13 January 2009

SF DMV (i)

I registered my car Monday. I still had it from Saturday morning (one day I hope to recount that tale) and drove it work. I was feeling fortuitous, since I had used a parking meter all morning and did not get a ticket. I set out to get a smog check. Unlike Vegas, smog stands are not plotted in random parking lots around town. As far as I can tell, they're actually hidden. I found one by driving along a busy road for a long time, then asking a random gas station attendant. And I think I know why. What goes for $20 in Las Vegas, goes for $59.95 in San Francisco. Smog stands out in the open might be attacked. I got the same pokes, sniffs, and random form for three times as much money and not nearly as much convenience. It didn't take long though, and since all had gone well, I decided to go to the DMV. It was 2:30 or so on a Monday afternoon. And my luck ran out.

There is only one DMV in San Francisco, while there are several in Las Vegas Initially I assumed that could only be because the San Francisco DMV moved like a well oiled machine, churning out newly licensed drivers and registered vehicles at a fervent pace. I was wrong, by a lot.

The SF DMV had ample parking, which is unheard of in this city . I walked in and stood in the first line I saw. There was a sign above reading "Start Here," which I thought was helpful. I got out my paperwork and I waited. I saw the security guard make a woman leave because she was eating. I think it was a set up though - there's a hot dog stand less than 15 feet from the door. I saw an older woman wearing overalls, a brightly colored shirt, a brightly colored hat, and bright make up staring at the floor as if she were about to fall asleep. She was also wearing headphones and is apparently a big Jennifer Hudson fan. It was loud. I listened as the girl in front of me applied for asylum, even though she's legally allowed to stay indefinitely. Don't ask me what that's about. And then it was my turn. And the man sent me to another line at the other side of the building. It too read "Start Here," and was specifically for registration. It too had a long line and after seeing no way around it, I counted my first 20 minutes as a loss. Once I finally got to the counter, things got a little weird.