- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2002

The outrage involving the Department of Motor Vehicles in the city comes out to $17.8 million in overbilling, going back to 1981.
That is what the DMV owes you, the people, as far as anyone can tell. But who knows, really? The tab could be $178 million.
This, after all, is the DMV, the Bermuda Triangle of city agencies. People who go to a DMV center to renew their licenses frequently turn up missing.
A trip to the city's DMV is not an errand to be completed. It is a lifestyle.
You are encouraged to pack a first-aid kit, canned goods and a sleeping bag before entering a DMV center in the city.
The DMV is an obstacle course trapped in the building of local government.
There's no place to park, the 90-degree sun is out, the computers have the hiccups and the employees are on a coffee break. Take a number, get in line and have a nice couple of weeks.
When it comes to unpleasant obligations, the city's DMV is in the company of a root canal and a prostate examination. It is hard to say which sound is more unnerving: the sound of a dentist's drill, the sound of the rubber glove smacking against a wrist or the sound of a DMV employee cutting some serious Zzz's.
No, nothing beats the life of a DMV employee. You don't really have to serve the public. You just show up to your chair each day, fluff up your pillow and put your Walkman in place. At the DMV, the customer is always wrong.
The DMV is not some wing of a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy. That would be an improvement. It is a retirement home.
The DMV has fallen and can't get up, except when it is time to eat. You can spot most DMV employees by the food stuck between their teeth and the blank look on their faces. You want to be helped? That's a good one. That will cost you extra.
No one should stand before a DMV employee without a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates and a gift certificate from the nearest restaurant.
That is no guarantee to be helped, just a gambit to grease the process.
The alternative is to die waiting, and die is the operative word. You paid too much in 1981? Are you still breathing? The DMV would like to know, although it is still trying to figure it all out.
The issue of overbilling is so darn complicated. You can see how it would baffle the DMV's best and brightest. You paid $50 too much.
Let's see. If you're the DMV, do you a) go on another coffee break; b) complete the crossword puzzle on your desk; c) check out the latest news on the Web; or d) retire to the restroom?
It is funny how it works with overbilling in other cities. They know what to do in Boston, El Paso and Baltimore.
In Washington, however, it is an intractable problem, worthy of the usual political huffing and puffing.
D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, is planning to hold a hearing on the matter next week. That's just great, a question-and-answer session with the requisite wringing of the hands.
First question: What's wrong with the District's DMV operation other than everything?
Second question: How's the DMV's coffee?
The name of the DMV's new computer system is Destiny, as opposed to It Takes Time to Work Out the Bugs.
The lines seem longer than normal, which probably is just a symptom of heat exhaustion.
Before they try to resolve the parking problem at the DMV building on Brentwood Road NE, they might want to install a water station, rescue personnel and a reader board with hourly updates.
At least the DMV is consistent, as D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams noted, in so many words, earlier this week. It was bad before he became mayor. It is bad now. It probably will be bad after he is gone.
So you have to go to the DMV this week?
How are your legs? Have you been in training? Are you feeling strong? Do you feel ready?
God bless and good luck.
Here's to you.
One last thing: Before you go, just in case, don't forget to update your will.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide