An Afternoon at the Davenport DMV
With my birthday right around the corner I realized my Texas license was about to expire. So I headed out to Davenport DMV. I know that's not the official name. The official name is probably something like The Davenport Iowa Driver's License Service Center. So I anyway I headed over to the place where they'll give you a license. Yaknow, kind of sort of down the driveway from the KFC and behind the strip mall there on Kimberly Road.
I knew I was in trouble from the start. The lot was fuller than I expected on a random afternoon in the middle of the month with the temperature hovering around ten degrees. Anyway I hopped out of the car, walked into the building and hoped for the best.
Ticket number 141. What number were they serving? 82. It was decision time. Stay, or attempt to come back right when they open some morning and hope I wouldn't be too far back in line. I decided to stay. There was an impromptu line of wall flowers standing in front of the ticket machines because the seats were full. At least full enough that those of us who didn't want to climb over several people chose to stand.
Quickly enough, they rolled through to number 96. That's when the pain started. It really did seem like they moved quickly to 96. Then the numbers just sat there. An employee came out in front of the counter and asked those folks who needed several services including drivers tests, cdl testing and the like to line up in front of her desk. I hoped that would move things along. Not really. And one dude doing something for a cdl seemed to be up and down at that employees counter for the better part of 90 minutes.
I overheard one employee talking about how she was going to lunch at 12:50. Two more employees bundled up in their official Iowa Driver's License Service Center jackets with yellow vests to administer road tests. At this point I spied an aisle seat in chairs so I went and sat down and started playing with my phone.
That's when I got to hear the guy across the aisle complain over and over and over again about how long it was taking. Especially compared to how quickly the Scott County folks were processing registrations and license plates on the other side of the room. He kept telling people how long he had been waiting and how when he lived in Illinois he'd go to an out of the way Secretary of State facility in the boonies to renew his license in five minutes.
At this point they had reached number 106. And then all the little now serving numbers above each counter wasn't lit. In fact, I didn't see any employees at any of the counters. There may have been one or two, but to me it looked like no one was back there. The woman across the aisle started talking to me about just needing to get her license renewed. She hoped she didn't need any other proof of identity or address to get her renewal done. She was kind of having a conversation with her self about whether she could run an errand and get back to the DMV before her number was called.
I had almost been there two hours. One of the bosses. The important looking folks who walk around, confer with other employees, and always seem to be walking somewhere important comes out front. He says he wants to speed things up and he can do that by taking a tally of who was there, what numbers they had, and kicking the numbers out of the now serving queue of those who left. And trust me, as we ticked closer to 1:00PM, people split. Maybe driving through KFC or Freddy's after spending their lunch hour waiting in a place that probably gave them headache.
After they got the queue numbers squared away the boss wanted a show of hands of who was getting their first Iowa license. He wanted to check and make sure we all had the proper papers to prove who we were and where we lived. Great idea, except at that point if I didn't have the right documentation I would have been really mad. If you're going to do this, a better idea would be to do it before someone waits two hours.
Good news, my paper work was correct. My number was called. And in 21 days the State of Iowa will be sending me my official license in the mail. The woman who helped me explained they're in the process of training some new employees, and at the same time, are down a few people because of the flu. She appreciated my patience. I appreciated the fact that next time I can just renew online.
I expected the process would take an hour to an hour and a half. Not two hours and change. That's one of the rougher experiences I had with a DMV. And I've got plates and drivers licenses in a bunch of states: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Texas and now Iowa.
Michigan was the cheapest. Indiana was the most difficult to deal with. Texas was slow, kind of like my experience here, but cheaper. And Iowa? Definitely the most expensive state in money and time to keep my car and myself legal.
Isn't Government bureaucracy great?