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  • Jerry Della Femina

HELP! I'M STUCK IN RED TAPE AT THE DMV



As you’re reading this, I’m at the Department of Motor Vehicles, renewing my driver’s license.


It doesn’t matter what time you’re reading this, a trip to the DMV takes hours – sometimes days – and ranks right up there with a trip to the dentist for a root canal.


I dug up this old column that I wrote in 2001 and all I can say is every word you will read is true. Here goes.


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In every country there is a group connected to local or national government that is the butt of jokes and ridicule.


In the USA, since the days of the Pony Express it’s been the U.S. Post Office. “Going postal” is a phrase to indicate that someone has lost it and is based on the fact that on occasion (I must admit rarely), an employee of the Postal Service has run amuck and machine-gunned a bunch of people.


That is now all over. The fact is the Post Office has its own problems and is losing millions of dollars every minute. In 2001 the Post Office reported a loss of over $1.7 billion and I don’t know about you, but I don’t pick on anyone who loses over a billion dollars a year.


My plan is that the feds declare the sale of marijuana legal and the government becomes a dealer and sells grass and Lotto tickets out of those thousands of post offices that are in every town in the country.


This should not be a typical government boondoggle. They do not have to hire a single person, but they should provide jobs for all their current employees. I guarantee you won’t see a happier guy than your cheerful postman after a few weeks of delivering cannabis to the hungry masses.


With my plan the government will make a profit selling grass of as much as 20 to 30 billion dollars.


Anyway, with the Post Office now off-limits to our taunts and laughter, we must find a new group.


Might I suggest the Department of Motor Vehicles?


Every child comes out of the womb hating the Department of Motor Vehicles in New York City.


Everyone has had at least one bad experience at the DMV in his or her lifetime. It’s not just that their people, with one or two exceptions, are incredibly rude. They are quite stupid, too.


Is it a New York phenomenon? Are they as rude in Iowa? Minnesota? Rhode Island? I invite readers who are from out of town to let me know if being nasty, uncivil, ill-mannered, coarse, discourteous and vulgar is just a New York thing.


I wrote a column when my daughter Jessie, age 16, went to the DMV to get her learner’s permit.


My wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, and I did what every parent should do with a 16-year-old. You first make sure she is aware of all the responsibilities of being a safe, considerate driver and then you try to get her prepared for the experience of dealing with the pit bulls who work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.


“What’s the big deal?” Jessie asked.


“You’re young, you don’t know these fiends,” I answered. “At 4:00, when they close their offices, they all get together and count how many people they sent home for not having all the necessary forms. And then, when those people come back the next day with that form, they tell them that they need still another form.”


“You’re exaggerating, as usual,” Jessie said, smiling. “I’m sure they’ll be nice.”


The next day Jessie came home from her first trip to the DMV in tears. “Ohmigod! They were worse than you said,” she sobbed.


“Told you so,” I said with a condescending smirk on my face. “Tell me, what was the worst part?”


“I guess it was when they called Mommy a barbarian and escorted her out of their offices screaming.”


“Barbarian,” I said with a smile. “Sounds like your mother to me.”


“Don’t let her hear you saying that, she was just there to sign an affidavit that I was 16 and really Jessie Della Femina. It was awful.”


“What happened?” I asked.


She answered, “I went into the room and there was a group of us standing in line and there was this Chinese-American man who works at Motor Vehicles and he was in charge. You know how Chinese people are always so polite and soft-spoken and nice? Well, this man was nuts. He kept screaming, ‘BE QUIET! BE QUIET!’ and then this very nice black woman standing next to me said something to me and before I could answer the Chinese man screamed, ‘YOU TALKED! YOU TALKED!’ Then he ripped both of our applications out of our hands and tore them to pieces. That’s when Mommy stepped in.”


“Is the Chinese man still alive?” I asked nervously.


“Well, he and Mommy started screaming at each other. He was yelling ‘OUT! OUT!’ at Mommy and she was screaming ‘NO ONE SCREAMS ‘OUT! OUT!’ AT ME WHEN I PAY HIS SALARY!’”


“When did they use the ‘B’ word?” I asked.


“As we were leaving. The man and this other man, who I think was his supervisor, were screaming ‘YOU BARBARIAN!’ at Mommy.”


“Was there any blood spilled?”


“No.”


“Then it was just another typical day at the Department of Motor Vehicles,” I said.


Postscript: Judy contacted a Mr. Joe Picci, who was head of “Communications” at the DMV in Albany. Communications at the Motor Vehicles is one of the great oxymorons of all time. Mr. Picci promised a thorough investigation. We haven’t heard from him since. But it’s only been 18 years and the Department of Motor Vehicles has a tendency to be a bit slow-moving.


And in Mr. Picci’s defense, being in charge of investigating rude behavior at the DMV is as thankless and useless a job as being a women’s swimwear buyer for ISIS.


-If you wish to comment on “Jerry’s Ink” please send your message to jerry@dfjp.com

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