Sunday, December 5, 2010


When I was living in upstate New York, it seems I spent a significant amount of time explaining that Texans weren't hicks and that we didn't all ride horses to work and that we were, in fact, a sophisticated, high tech, orderly, efficient, and kind people.

I moved back to Texas 13 years ago. Here is what happened.

Yesterday I ventured forth to get my drivers license, my auto registration and my license tags.

First, I stopped at the Texas Dept. of Public Safety since it was closest. I waited in line for about ten minutes to get to the information desk only to find out that my car had to be registered first. I questioned this policy in that it was 'me' getting a drivers license, not my 'car'. The information cyclops lowered her practiced glare upon me and snarled something about policy.

Back to the car. I drove 12 miles to the Harris County Precinct Office to get my car registered and my license tags. The line here was about twenty minutes long. The matronly lady at the counter was sweet as she informed me that I had to have my car inspected first and I was to bring in an AI-14 form as proof of inspection. At least she apologized.

To a service station which had a tag hanging outside that said "State Inspection". By now, I had been an hour into this venture and had not found 'Go' yet. My headache grew worse when I found out the the Texas State Inspector of Inspectors was there and when would be accompanying my inspector as he inspected my car. (Inspect the previous sentence close). A normal 15 minute inspection took 40 minutes. I do know one car really can pass an inspection.

Finally, with form AI-14 in hand, I returned to the Precinct Office. Another twenty minutes in line. When I submitted my form and my registration and my drivers license and my insurance card and every other piece of paper that I could find, the matronly lady became concerned because my title is from Massachusetts even though I bought the car in New York and my last residence is in New York even though my drivers license is from Massachusetts. I finally sobbed, "Take blood...fine me a thousand dollars...put me in jail...but just give me a registration and tags. There are no more papers. I cannot get anymore papers. This is all that exists!" After a conference with her supervisor, they decided to re-title my car in Texas (Do not ask me why. I have a very adventurous car, first titled in NY, then in MA, now in TX.).

After about thirty minutes and $112 later, I then trudged back to the Dept of Public Safety. I waited in line for another twenty minutes to see Cyclops again. I showed her all of my papers and told her that I wanted my old Texas drivers license number back since it had not expired. She asked why, and I told her that I had, after twelve years, memorized it and I don't have another twelve years to spare to memorize another one. This, of course, took a phone call. She then gave me a number to stand. Of course, it was Number 13. I was told to sit in the waiting room and my number would be called.

The waiting room was packed. A funny observation: Everyone there seemed to be poor and Mexican or black and there were no white people and there was not one business person or dressed up person in the lot. Now, where do 'professional people' go to get their drivers license? Oh, and everybody had five screaming kids. My headache was pounding.

I felt pretty gloomy when the first number called as "84". I figured that put me 29 people back. To entertain myself, I offered to hold a crying baby while a mother went in to do her license thing. I received a bloody, go-to-hell look in return. "91" was finally called out. I tried to strike up a conversation with a teenage Mexican lady....but either she didn't speak English or I have that Jack-the-Ripper look. "98". I tried to sleep. "Number 6". I got up and paced....I had been there an hour now. Finally, Number 13 was called.

I bounded into a big room to get into another line. I only had to stand there ten minutes. Finally, I made it to the counter and told the lovely lady (black hair, black eyes, very little make up...quite cute) about wanting to keep my license number. She said "No problem" and I suggested she tell that to Cyclops back there. She thought the Cyclops reference was funny. I tried to pass the eye test with no glasses. She caught me trying to sneak it so that my left eye could look in the right eye spot in the Dreaded Eye Machine. Damn woman made me put on my glasses (which I hadn't worn for four years). She wasn't so cute any more. In fact I told her that I thought she was sweet when I first got up there, but now I see that she is mean. She thought this was funny too.

Well, I got eyes tested, my face photographed, and then was finger printed and I affixed my signature to something. She handed me a form and said that this was my temporary license and I would receive my official one in eight weeks (eight weeks!). As I left, she said, "Be sure and get your car inspected and registered". Oh my headache.

I take back that comment about Texans being orderly and efficient.


  1. I would disagree - Texans are orderly and efficient - unless they work for the DMV.

    It is funny though, the perception people have of Texas who've never been there. My ex sister-in-law seemed convinced that there were tumbleweeds blowing through the streets of Houston.

  2. you forgot to mention(maybe i missed it), but i had to pay a 35.00 "moving back to Texas" fee. I 'bout blew my gasket, but had to pay it.. lol. I took a box van off a truck once and tried to register it. I now take medication because of that ordeal..

  3. That's what I love about living in a "liberal" state, I have never had to spend more than 15 minutes in a DMV office over the last 20 years. Most of the stuff we do online.

    The Republicans here want to "privatize" DMV here.

  4. You mean you can go to the actual office? Ours only exists in a world of posting and call centres. I am told that real people work there, but you can never be too sure.

  5. Department of Motor Vehicles seem to be pretty much the same everywhere. Well, maybe not the office, but the people who work there.
    Today we can make appointments and bypass all the lines or do all but the driving test at our auto insurance office (AAA)

    I felt your pain Jerry! Too many hours of our lives spent under the thumb of petty bureaucrats! Great story!

  6. What the... you DON'T have a horse?!

  7. Ah the DMV! You should move to Utah. Here our DMV's are run like fine-tuned precision clocks.

  8. That was a ghastly experience and I am exhausted just reading about it.
    Perhaps it is the small town I live in but my DMV experience has always been delightful. At most 10 minute wait and interesting people to talk to. Think I'll stay put.

  9. Been there done that Jerry, I have spent several thousand hours at the DMV too and now in CA going to AAA sure is easier.

  10. I hate to break it to you...but it not just Texans...going to the DMV, where ever you live is an opportunity and should be a preequisite, to consume drink or Xanax or both. It is almost always an exercise in patience and endurance!

  11. To my certain knowledge SC has done nothing right in the twenty+ years I've lived here--except to revamp their DMV licensing process. It was an all-day goat rope when we first arrived and a repeat every renewal cycle. When the shame of it all became front page headlines in our local paper, an effort was made to straighten it all out.

    I expect, however, that every state is going to get tougher on us boomers when the biggest bumper cars ride in history gets cranked up in a few years. There may be death panels.

  12. The DMV in cali is so messed up, we have a website where we can look at the wait times for all the local offices before deciding which one we want to go to ... isn't that grand?

    fortunately, most stuff we do by mail. it was the whole behind the wheel driver's test that about pushed me over the edge with my daughter. only 2 more kids to go!

  13. It's wonder people don't get a panic attack after all those intrusions and wait times,etc. And we think things got easier when the computers came into our lives. LOL

  14. A day well spent, Jerry! Is "well" the right word?

    I am also in the process of renewing my licence and getting the registration done which is going to put a nasty dent into my modest, university student income :( It's such a pain, but it's nice when it's all done. Hope your headache has passed!


  15. LOL!! Oh my what a horrendous experience!! But you must admit, your wonderful story telling has put quite a funny spin on it!! I LOVED this "I finally sobbed, "Take blood...fine me a thousand dollars...put me in jail...but just give me a registration and tags. There are no more papers. I cannot get anymore papers. This is all that exists!" I so needed a good laugh today, thank you!! :))

  16. Ah, it seems there are always more papers. I did get a disabled parking pass for my broken foot in 10 minutes which, when averaged with the 90 minutes it took to get my license transferred from Cali to AZ might just be acceptable... might. In Cali we could make an appointment and go to the window at our appointed time and point out what we needed... oh, your inspection sentence is much better.

    Thanks for the smile :)

  17. I was feeling really sorry for myself since the latest thing to blow up was my computer, which is in the computer E.R., until I hijacked my son's computer and made a safe re-entry into blogland.

    I must admit, I truly do want all Texans to own cowboy boots and a horse.

    I went though the same motor vehicle/ lic. renewal thing two months ago. I couldn't register my cars until I had my lic. renewed. I couldn't do either without paying the taxes on the cars.

    We pay a sales tax when we buy the cars, then the things are taxed every year (on the mysterious Blue Book value) until they go to the junkyard. Then the parts are sold, and taxed. Is it my imagination ir is this ridiculous? Especially since on the other end of the scale, according to the revered Blue Book, my 97 Chrysler - which is like a plow in snow - is only worth 1800.00. I said to my insurance guy, "Hey, could you buy all the parts on that car, put them all together and make it run, for a measly 1800.00?" He had no sense of humor, his reply was, "Ah, thats not how things work." OK.

  18. just thinking about the dmv makes me double up on xanax. I think they should pay the people who work there based on customer surveys. Really why do they hate us? Funny post Jerry and I bet we all feel your pain!

  19. The DMV sounds a bit like the passport office. When they have something you want and have monopoly on providing that thing, I guess they can treat you any way they feel like. It's no wonder we have those "Falling Down" moments. Congratulations on getting through it without going postal.

  20. Just be glad you didn't have to have your mandatory horse inspected. They hate the hose they hook up to test the exhaust.