The DOL: Where America Gathers

The Department of Licensing (DOL)  is non-discriminating:  rich or poor, short or tall, smart or stupid, white or non-white, angel or jerk, fluent English or no English, you get treated the same. 

Over the past few weeks Barbara (my exceptionally smart and cool wife) and I have experienced the joy of the DOL as we’ve guided our 16-year-old son through getting his first driver’s license.

We have waited well over 16 hours at the local DOL and suffered countless examples of incompetence and rudeness.  A root canal, looking directly at the sun, talking to a life insurance agent and repeatedly listening to Stairway To Heaven are preferable to a visit to the DOL.

I’m convinced that DOL employees have also worked at TSA or vice versa.  In both cases clear and accurate communication is vital and yet they are both a mecca of miscommunication. 

I digress… I’m just sayin’…

Okay, back to our DOL experience.  It began with applying for Tom’s learner permit.   Among the many documents required are the actual Social Security card… not just the number.  How many people actually have a Social Security card?  You also must prove your citizenship.  Tom has a passport so that hurdle was cleared.  Pity the person who brings in a photocopy of a birth certificate.  That must be a certified copy, not a photocopy.

Barbara took  number A340.  The lines were serving D and C, no A’s.   This was going to be a long, long wait.  With nothing to read and no phone calls to make she decided to do something she has never done in public:  file her fingernails.   

The room is about the size of an airplane hangar with rows and rows of hard plastic chairs.  People occupy every chair and are standing and sitting along the walls.  There is a hum of conversation, people talking on their cell phones and the continuous computerized voice calling out the numbers “D411, C391, D412…”

People of every size, shape, age and color are gathered to wait and wait some more.   You calculate how long it will be until your number is called.  Should I leave and come back?  What if they start calling A000 numbers?  Unbelievably boring.

The wait for the learner’s permit was two-and-a-half  hours.  It seemed like two-and-a-half days.

Then it was my turn several weeks later, for Tom’s written test.  Drove to the DOL and got our number and waited three hours for Tom to take his 20 minute test.  He passed.  Then we took another number and waited another hour to get the driver’s test appointment.  There is no vending machine, no video games, no coffee.  Just a bathroom which hasn’t been cleaned this century and a non-working drinking fountain.  But there is an ATM. 

Here’s an idea:  Why not allow online scheduling?  I mean you can buy airline tickets and reserve a seat online, why not schedule appointments online? 

To be continued…

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