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Posts Tagged ‘bureaucracy’

What is worse?  A trip to the dentist or the Department of Motor Vehicles?

After waiting for 30 minutes to get inside the DMV building, you get to wait in this room. The room is 3 times the size of what you see here. (photo: Reed)

I headed over to the DMV to get my car’s emissions levels re-inspected after a faulty oxygen sensor failed me the first time.  After passing the test, I went around the block to the DMV’s administration center to register my car in the District.

Primary elections in DC were being held next door to the center and parking was limited.  When I arrived I was greeted by a line of other DC residents snaking out the door.  And this line was just to get a number to get placed in another waiting area.  Typical!

I looked at my watch and saw that it was 9:18am.

In front of me was a guy who was passing the time thumbing away on his phone.  I realized that I was in for a long morning at the DMV and introduced myself to Chad and asked him to accept my $10.  Chad accepted and told me that he was there to renew his license and change his address.

Chad said he'd rather go to the dentist than visit the DMV! (photo: Reed)

“I went to get something notarized and they said that I needed a new license because one of the corners was broken because I sat on it,” he said before pausing.  “Man, I’d rather go to the dentist than come here!”

I’m with Chad on that one.

As we inch forward in line he tells me that this was his second trip to the DMV this week.

“So I went online on Monday and checked the cameras to see how long the lines were on Monday and there was no line at all.  So I came down here only to find out that the reason that there was no line was because THEY DON’T OPEN ON MONDAYS!!  The place was closed.” 

That’s funny.

Now holding number C325, Chad looked at the monitor that shows which number they are servicing.  He had 20 people in front of him.  I asked Chad how long he thought it would take to get through the system.  “I’ll hopefully leave here in 45 minutes so that I can get to work on time, if not, I’ll have to call my boss and say I will be late.”  That time came and went and Chad pulled out his phone and dialed his boss.  He got some extra time, but it proved to not be enough.  He finally left around 10:45.  It would take another 50 minutes before they called his number.  

My number was called a few minutes later.  As it turns out I waited almost two and a half hours to be called on.  It would take ten minutes to complete my transaction.  And here is the weird part.  They asked if I wanted to transfer my old tags to my new car or get new ones.  I had my old tags with me and said I would probably just keep my old ones.  Not only would it be cheaper but it would also be better for the environment.  But wait!  I was wrong.  It turns out it was more expensive to keep my old tags because they would have to renew them which had fees attached to it.  That’s insane.  So what did I do?  I surrendered my old license plates and got new one.

Chad filling out one of the many forms they give you. (photo: Reed)

The 29-year-old told me he was going to use the $10 to help pay for parking while he was at work.  “The hotel charges $35 a day, but I park nearby where it costs $13, so this will go toward today’s parking.”  

By the way, I learned that Chad was born and raised in DC.  He graduated from the LAB School and then went on to study business at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.  I had never heard of this university when I met Chad, but then heard of it again recently when the controversies over Delaware candidate for Senate Christine O’Donnell looked into her educational background.  After school Chad managed a McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant but later opted to leave for a less stressful position.  Now he is a server at a steakhouse in a luxury hotel in downtown DC.  

I asked him if any of the readers of the Year of Giving could help him in any way and he said he would appreciate it if any Life Coach would be willing to donate some time to work with him.  Several Life Coaches have reached out to me so I have the feeling we will find someone for Chad.

FYI this entry filled up the last page of my third notebook that I have used so far this year.  Tomorrow I crack open a new one.

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Do you believe in Karma?  I do.  I think that I have always been a generous person, however, since I have started the Year of Giving I have noticed more people being generous toward me.  Are people really more generous, or am I merely paying more attention?  Impossible to know, however, today was an excellent example of kindness coming back to me.

My brother is getting married February 13th.  He and his fiancée asked that I marry them.  By the way, I am not a minister, nor have I ever performed a wedding.  So I am venturing into uncharted territory.

In order to perform a wedding in the District of Columbia, there are a series of hoops that you must jump through.  First you must be ordained.  The Universal Life Church Monastery is an organization that has more liberal requirements to become ordained for the purposes of performing ceremonies.  So, I got ordained.

Then I gathered all the information that DC requires and went down to the Superior Court of DC only to be told that I was missing a copy of the founding documents for the ULC.  I told them that the ULC didn’t provide such information, and they replied, “That is not true.  We receive applications all the time from the ULC and the other applications have the founding documents attached.” So, I said, “well, if you already have copies of the founding documents, then why do you need me to provide you a copy?”  The women smiled and said that that was irrelevant.  Bureaucracy!  She said a simpler way was to find another ordained individual from the ULC who could endorse me.  The problem is that I don’t know anyone, much less someone in DC, who is ordained by the ULC.

The office courthouse was open for another hour, so I called the ULC and asked them to fax over the documentation.  They agreed, but I didn’t think they would get there in time.  Just about this time, another guy in the lobby said he overheard my conversation and told me that he was also ordained through the ULC and was going through the same process.  He introduces himself to me as Mac.  He didn’t need all the paperwork that I did, because he got endorsed.    Mac thought that I might be able to use some of his documentation.  Lucky for me, he is a little further along in the process (he arrived at 1pm, I arrived at 3:45pm).  Then the light bulb went off.  Once he is registered, he could then endorse me!  We were just minutes away in theory to them finalizing his process.  I say “in theory” because there is a lot of walking back and forth to other offices and statements like, “that’s up to the judge to decide.” 

While Mac goes up to talk to one of the clerks, I found myself talking to Mac’s two friends that are with him: Cyndi and Vanessa.  Cyndi flew in from Chicago to surprise Vanessa for her birthday on Saturday (Happy birthday Vanessa!)  Vanessa is the person that Mac is going to marry in the Spring.  All three met in high school in Oklahoma.  Phew, I feel like a family tree might be helpful here.  Anyway, we were talking about how good things were happening to me and I told them about my Year of Giving.

I decided to give Cyndi my $10 for the day.  The 29-year-old tells me that she is an accountant in the Windy City.  So I am thinking that she must have a good grasp on numbers and money.  I asked her what she was going to do with the $10 and she said that she was either going to give it to a homeless woman and her son who she sees every day near her office or buy some cocktails.  A smile comes across her face as she realizes how much her two answers are polar opposites.  After the day they have had at the DC court, I am leaning in the direction of the cocktails.  She says she will circle back with me and let me know what she ends up doing with it.

About this time Mac finds his way back over to the dozen chairs that sit along the perimeter of the room.  He says that he is now legally able to perform wedding ceremonies in DC.  Rather than me wait for my paperwork, since Mac is now “official” he is able to endorse my application.  This was a tremendous help to me.  Despite having spent most of his afternoon at the courthouse, he graciously agrees to remain there a little while longer to help me out.  We are finally called up to the clerk’s desk and she asks him to raise his right hand and swear that the information that he has supplied is true to the best of his knowledge.  He does so and she says he is free to go.  He leaves a dollar on the desk to pay for the notary fee.  I tell him to keep it, but he insists.  Mac, I owe you…more than a dollar.  Let me buy you a drink when you are back in DC (Mac lives in NYC).

I got most of the process done that day.  I just have to go back on Monday and stand before the judge and then I am told that the process should be complete.  If anyone has any good advice for me about performing the wedding ceremony, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

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