Friday, October 14, 2005

Texas Dept of Public Safety: "It's not my fault"

I had today, a Friday, off from work, so what do we do to celebrate it? We decide to finally go get our Texas drivers' licenses. Oh goody. Just what I wanted to do on my day off, was to stand in line at the DPS and fill out a bunch of paperwork and get an ugly picture taken of myself.

I did accomplish at least one thing that every day off should have: I slept in. Quite nice, but as a consequence, we didn't get to the DPS until noon. You guessed it, the place was packed. I thought the DMV was bad in Virginia, but compared to this place, it was a techno geek's heaven. At least in Virginia, when you went in, they had someone to hand you a ticket based on what you wanted to do, and to make sure you had all the appropriate paperwork with you before you had to wait an hour or two.

In Texas, you just get in the 2 hour line, with no chairs, inadequate cooling, and rambunctious kids bouncing all around the tiny waiting room, and occasionally stepping on your feet. You hope that you have all the paperwork you need, because if not, they'll send you home to try again another day.

They only had two people working, and one lady was doing nothing but administering written tests. The DPS was averaging about one customer every 10 minutes, which with around 20 people in front of us equaled a really freakin' long wait.

Finally we get to the desk and the lady makes copies of all our documentation. Happily, we had all the paperwork we needed. After she took my license, she managed to misspell my name and had to do that again. I had both my thumbs fingerprinted on their little scanner, and then I had my picture taken. I was looking at other people's pictures on the computer screens, and I don't know what sort of system they had, but it automatically took the absolute worst picture of every single person in there. I don't think even a supermodel would come out of there looking decent.

Finally, after all that, I don't even have a license anymore. I have to wait 3-6 weeks to get it in the mail! Apparently, the little license maker machine is too expensive for Texas to afford, so they send everything electronically to Austin and do everything for the state there. So for the next month or so, I have no official ID, unless I want to carry around a nine year old passport with me.

The best part of the whole thing was a quote by the employee though. As she handed me my temporary (picture-less) driver's license, she told me to look it over and make sure it's right. Because if it isn't, not only do I have to come back and stand in line again, but I have to pay all the fees again.

Then she said, "If we make a mistake, it's not our fault."

I stared at her for a moment and finally replied, "Gee, I wish I had a job where I wasn't responsible for my mistakes. Must be nice." I don't think she appreciated my viewpoint.

Ah, Texas. You never cease to surprise me.