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Motor vehicles triumph

Normally, everything we write comes from both of us. But New York State insists on seeing us as two separate individuals. As a result, the following citizen’s experience was written by Katherine. By the way, contrary to the anecdote with which this post begins, this is a happy little story.


This month my driver’s license expired. This would not be a big deal, but I carry considerable emotional baggage based on my first trip to the NY Motor Vehicles Bureau office when I was 22 years old.

I had all the proper forms. I had my learner’s permit. I had a No. 2 sharpened pencil in case anything new had to be filled out.

Katherine, quite a while ago

There was one item I neglected to bring. A package of tissues.

Here’s the story: When I arrived at the Department of Motor Vehicles, I was prepared for a moderately unpleasant experience. That was the reputation the DMV in New York and elsewhere,  had at the time. But the level of frustration exceeded all humane bounds; kind of like anticipating a lot of traffic on the road, and winding up in a 14-car collision. My pain began with a four-hour wait in line. That would have been bad enough, but when I triumphantly reached the head of the line, I was rudely told that I had been in the wrong line.

I took two totally futile steps. First I broke my number two pencil in half. And then I began to weep. That’s where the tissues would have come in handy. Meanwhile,  I marched to another line, where I slowly progressed for another four hours. My day was shot.

Flash forward a few decades. The process of getting my license renewed just took approximately seven minutes online (not counting a ten minute walk to a local pharmacy for my vision test.) Three minutes later, I received a confirmation that the transaction was complete. I was able to download a temporary license immediately.

This process was so smooth, so simple and so efficient that I felt I had to give New York State some credit for a public service that is unrecognizable and infinitely superior to what it used to be.

Good job, New York.


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