4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

DMV lines – the great leveler

Dear Matthew Alice:

While standing in the license renewal line for an hour and a half the other day at the Department of Motor Vehicles, I realized that this mundane chore is one of our society's great levelers. Everyone – Paul Bloom, Dr. Thomas Day, Don Coryell – must stand in line at the DMV in order to obtain a license. Am I right?

Sara Kassara, Mission Beach.

By its own regulations, the DMV allows nobody to dodge lines, but in practice some people can take cuts. Much to the DMV's credit, the department ignores the rules sometimes to allow the handicapped, the faint, or the elderly to advance to the head of a line whenever it becomes apparcntthat such a person can't wait as long as everybody else. At the Hillcrest office of the DMV there is a table in front of the supervisor's desk where' the excepted people are brought to conduct their business sitting down. "There's no written proc~dure or anything on when you bring people to the front of the line," said a spokeswoman -for the DMV in Sacramento. "The only hard and fast rule is that everybody has to come down to the office to do their business. I had somebody ask if the department had a mobile unit to make house calls for taking the picture on a license. I told him no way."

The manager of the office in La Mesa said, "I suppose there's some way to beat the system - by sending a look-alike to take your place in line - but if there is, I've never seen it. We treat everybody the same, and we don't like the lines ourselves because they're hard on everybody."

This manager tells people who telepIxme ahead of their visits that the best will have to wait three or four more months for the standing lines to be eliminated.

The consolation of waiting at the DMV is the chance of meeting some famous person who can't avoid waiting either. Not long ago I met someone in line who looked remarkably like Joan Didion. (She resembled the photograph on Didion's latest book, The White Album, which I'd gotten for my birthday.) I introduced myself and she said, "I had better tell you what I am doing here. What I am doing here is trying to pass a test that corresponds, in some totemic way, to everything in California that I have been taught to believe in. To say that this line is in some way better than the Eight-Items-Or-Less line at the Mayfair in Hillcrest is beside the point. The point is this: the Eight-Items-Or-Less line at Mayfair may appear to be going somewhere, but this line, the line at the new DMV office with its Bang & Olufsen exterior and its immature landscaping, is the line that leads to a driver's license, which by extension is the line that leads to wherever we are going."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Reader writers' music picks, San Diego's history of punk, singer bred in TJ's Zona Norte

FM radio survey, local jazz greats, tribute to Mr. Lennon
Next Article

San Diego fishing life, dirty work, tools of the trade

The heady job of a waiter, nurses on the run, who brings you your candy

Dear Matthew Alice:

While standing in the license renewal line for an hour and a half the other day at the Department of Motor Vehicles, I realized that this mundane chore is one of our society's great levelers. Everyone – Paul Bloom, Dr. Thomas Day, Don Coryell – must stand in line at the DMV in order to obtain a license. Am I right?

Sara Kassara, Mission Beach.

By its own regulations, the DMV allows nobody to dodge lines, but in practice some people can take cuts. Much to the DMV's credit, the department ignores the rules sometimes to allow the handicapped, the faint, or the elderly to advance to the head of a line whenever it becomes apparcntthat such a person can't wait as long as everybody else. At the Hillcrest office of the DMV there is a table in front of the supervisor's desk where' the excepted people are brought to conduct their business sitting down. "There's no written proc~dure or anything on when you bring people to the front of the line," said a spokeswoman -for the DMV in Sacramento. "The only hard and fast rule is that everybody has to come down to the office to do their business. I had somebody ask if the department had a mobile unit to make house calls for taking the picture on a license. I told him no way."

The manager of the office in La Mesa said, "I suppose there's some way to beat the system - by sending a look-alike to take your place in line - but if there is, I've never seen it. We treat everybody the same, and we don't like the lines ourselves because they're hard on everybody."

This manager tells people who telepIxme ahead of their visits that the best will have to wait three or four more months for the standing lines to be eliminated.

The consolation of waiting at the DMV is the chance of meeting some famous person who can't avoid waiting either. Not long ago I met someone in line who looked remarkably like Joan Didion. (She resembled the photograph on Didion's latest book, The White Album, which I'd gotten for my birthday.) I introduced myself and she said, "I had better tell you what I am doing here. What I am doing here is trying to pass a test that corresponds, in some totemic way, to everything in California that I have been taught to believe in. To say that this line is in some way better than the Eight-Items-Or-Less line at the Mayfair in Hillcrest is beside the point. The point is this: the Eight-Items-Or-Less line at Mayfair may appear to be going somewhere, but this line, the line at the new DMV office with its Bang & Olufsen exterior and its immature landscaping, is the line that leads to a driver's license, which by extension is the line that leads to wherever we are going."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

We Got Beef on the waterfront

Local jerky maker spices up weekend bayside markets
Next Article

Notice the difference in Zgara gyros

Bay Park counter shop deviates from processed Americana
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close