Mike: Logan, when is the last time you visited the DMV?
Logan: Ha, umm. Hmm. Let me consider this. I think it was in Virginia when I changed the title on my car, when I had a car, three years ago? I don’t remember. I tend to block out unpleasant experiences. And you?
Mike: A few days ago! So, the thing is I know everyone says that going to the DMV is an unpleasant experience, and I’ve been a few times and it was never that bad, but the experience I had a few days ago was bad. Superbad. Superbad: The Sequel. I had to renew my license because I’ll be driving around the holidays, and I also had to have a vision test. I filled out the forms in advance and mentally prepared myself for two hours of waiting, which I estimated based on reading tons of Yelp reviews of the DMV I went to. It ended up being four hours.
Logan: Oh dear. Merry Christmas!
Mike: I was given a ticket with a letter and some numbers on it, and told to watch a screen for my number to come up. On Yelp, people suggested bringing reading material because the wait can take a long time, but you also don’t want to miss your number, so you’re constantly checking the screen, which makes reading anything difficult. My number popped up after an hour, and it took maybe five minutes to take the vision test and for the DMV agent to look over my paperwork. Then I was told to sit down and wait again for my number to pop up so that I could pay and have someone issue me a temporary license.
After about two hours, I noticed something strange was happening, which was that sometimes a number would pop up on the screen, but it didn’t match the number at the corresponding counter you were supposed to go to. I asked someone at the DMV why that was and she told me, “Sometimes the number on the screen is wrong, and you’re supposed to double check at the counter just in case.” Which—how was I or anyone else supposed to know that!? So I got up to tell the ticketing person what happened, and she issued me a new ticket, and said, “Sorry, you’ll be next.” I wasn’t next. I was called up an hour later. I then ran out of there as fast as I could when I was finished. My right eye was twitching by the end of it.
Logan: This. Sounds. Terrible. Was there any point when you considered taking your own life? Or, um, leaving?
Mike: I thought about it for a second, but realized that if I left, I would have to come back and the nightmare would start all over again. So: It was now or never legally drive again. I’ve never had an “Oh my god, the DMV is hell on earth” story, but I guess this will be my story—the terrible lighting, the holiday music on loop, the public service announcements and the weird “trivia game” that would pop up on the screen next to the numbers being displayed.
Logan: I mainly don’t like going to the DMV because I’m afraid they’ll make me take the driver’s ed written test again and I’ll fail, like I did when I took it the first time when I was 16. I can still remember that. Shivers. So what’s the moral here. Bureacracy is terrible? Maybe the DMV is a secret scheme to get us all to give up our licenses and make the country go green? But also, I can’t believe you worked after that. I definitely would have not worked after that. I would have called in. I would have sent an email saying, DMV terror, dying, going to bed, no me today. How did you do it!?
Mike: I guess I’m good at compartmentalization? I complained about it for a good half hour to anyone who would listen to me, and then was like, “Ok! Putting it behind me. Hopefully I won’t have to visit that place for a long time.” I feel like the DMV would have stressed you out even more if you went when I did because one of the public service announcements that kept popping up was, “Have you done your taxes? Have you paid your taxes? If you haven’t paid your taxes: DO NOT IGNORE IT. There are places you can go to seek help!” And then a list of places. Servicey.
Also, the trivia questions: “Which actress…” And even before I finished reading the question, I was like, “Jennifer Aniston” because the answer is always “Jennifer Aniston” and, sure enough, the answer was “Jennifer Aniston.” Also, a fun fact I learned at the DMV: Before erasers existed, we used to use white bread to erase pencil markings.
Logan: OMG you’re right the answer always IS Jennifer Aniston!!!!!! Why is that??!?! Also white bread is just another way to say Jennifer Aniston. And yes, that tax shit would have made me walk out the door. Maybe next time you could like, take a train to a pretty suburb and go to their DMV there. I bet it would be a totally different experience.
Mike: I’m just hoping I’ll never have to go again. When I got back to the office, I asked Alex Balk when the last time he went to the DMV was, and he said, “Eight years ago.” So I’ve got at least eight years! Also: Jennifer Aniston.