THE NEW JERSEY DMV
Years ago, in New Jersey, if you had to choose between eating glass, setting your genitals on fire, or going to the Department of Motor Vehicles it would have been a tossup.
You could always count on a wait of two to three hours for the simplest of tasks. No matter what documentation you had, it was never enough or valid. No matter what line you waited in, it was always the wrong line. If you asked the wrong question you would be sent to another line with no chance to clarify. Whenever you finally found the right line, it would close just before you reached the end.
Years ago in New Jersey, you also had to have your car inspected every year. The inspection lines, especially if you had a job and could only go on a Saturday, were huge. The wait was at least 90 minutes. If your car was over four years old you generally failed inspection. You would fail for headlight alignment, tire inflation, turn indicator, or exhaust emissions.
You could avoid the 90 minute wait by going to a privately licensed mechanic, but that would cost forty bucks. Years ago, I never had forty bucks. I had to spend 90 minutes on a Saturday to find out why my car would fail…they always found something, and then spend several hours adjusting my tire pressure or changing a light, and then go back for another 90 minutes to pass inspection.
To save money, several years ago, the State of NJ decided if you have a new car, you don’t have to have it inspected for four years. Any other car only needs inspection every two years. I recently had to run my car through this inspection system. There was no line. They did not check my lights, or my breaks, or my horn or my windshield wipers. They only checked my exhaust emission. This giant facility which used to test about one million cars a day now tests 75 cars a day and they only test exhaust emissions. With modern technology, I don’t think they fail anyone except an occasional 1974 Chevy, but they do employ lots of people. I’m not complaining, but do we really need these facilities? Did we ever need them?
Last month Mrs. C had to renew her license. She had to go to the DMV. I went with her and braced myself for a two hour visit in hell.
There were no lines.
A person greeted us and directed us to the correct line.
The person behind the window was polite.
Mrs. C had her renewed license with a new picture in less than 10 minutes. What the hell happened? How was this possible?
Oh! Turns out the system has been privatized. Seems the threat of competition makes the process a little better than when it is run by bureaucrats who's job is guaranteed.
The New Jersey DMV owes me several days of my life that I will never recover, but I must say their changes are better late than never.