THE BLOG

The Waiting Game

05/30/2012 10:15 am ET | Updated Jul 30, 2012

As a motorist who has been driving (people crazy) for four decades, I am used to sitting in traffic for hours at a time. But I didn't think I would have to sit for part of two days when I went to renew my registration at the DMV, which stands for Department of Mass Vexation.

My adventure began on a Friday morning, when I drove to the DMV in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., and found that, because of budget cuts, the place was closed. Instead of looking on the door for the office hours, which would have indicted the place was closed the next day, too, I went back the next day and found that -- surprise! -- the place was closed.

My keen deductive powers convinced me not to show up Sunday. So I went back Monday morning and beheld a scene that was something out of a Cecil B. DeMille epic.

"I'm sorry," said the nice woman at the front counter, where I was given number F-130, "but we've had a lot of layoffs and two people called in sick today. You're looking at a two-hour wait."

I sat down with about 100 other poor souls in the hope that her estimate was wrong. After 20 minutes, I decided it was -- the wait would be at least three hours. I left and came back even earlier the next morning.

Everyone from the previous day must have had the same idea because they were back, too. I went to the front counter and took a number. It was F-120.
"I think I know what the F stands for," I told the nice woman.
She smiled and said, "Good luck."
I sat down next to a guy who said, "I've been here for three days."
"Your family must be worried," I replied. "Did you bring a sleeping bag?"
"I should have," he said. "I showed up Thursday morning and the line was out the door. I waited a while and gave up. The place was closed Friday."
"I know," I said.
"I came back yesterday and the woman at the counter said it would be a two-hour wait," he continued. "I stuck around for about 20 minutes and left."
"Me, too," I said.
"So here I am for a third day," said the guy, who had number C-411.
A disembodied voice announced, "Now serving A-004 at window No. 4."
"We'll be here forever," I said.
A little while later, the voice announced, "Now serving C-411 at window No. 3."
"That's me!" the guy exclaimed. People around us applauded. I high-fived him. "It's like winning the lottery," he said as he scampered up to the window.

I sat from here to eternity, watching people text, surf the Web on their laptops, read books or look at the overhead TV, which featured the Motor Vehicle Network. Programming included a game called "Can You Guess the Celebrities?" and a commercial for a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases resulting from motor vehicle accidents.

Finally, I heard the disembodied voice say, "Now serving F-120 at window No. 8."
"Yes!" I exulted as other customers congratulated me. I stepped up to the window and was greeted by a pleasant woman named Dotty. I told her that I had been to the DMV recently to get my license renewed and that I was in and out in no time. "Everything was very smooth and everyone was very nice," I said. "The DMV gets a bad rap."
"We do," Dotty acknowledged. "But we've been extremely busy lately because we are short-staffed. I hope you weren't waiting too long."
"Just a couple of days," I replied.
"That'll be $196.50," Dotty said. "Make out the check to DMV."
"How do you spell that?" I asked.
Dotty smiled. "Now you don't have to do this again for two years," she noted.
I nodded and said, "I can wait."

Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of "Leave It to Boomer." Visit his blog at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net.