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The Department of Mindless Villains

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Posted (edited)

Trying to get my crunched Miata back on-line and dealing with the DMV is not a pleasant experience.  Never has been....


The Department of Mindless Villians


     If you haven’t figured it out, the title describes the organization otherwise called the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Or, as they are more commonly referred, the DMV.  Hence, my personal tag for them. 

     I have heard, over the years, any number of stories about people’s less than pleasant interactions with the staff of the california* DMV; my personal experiences have been defining.

     Let me go back a number of years.  During my early interactions with the Mindless Ones were pretty much on a par with everyone else’s.  Annoying at best, but nothing notably horrid.  Until that fateful day in 1975. 

     I was working for a little outfit in San Francisco, Western States BankCard Association – the original MasterCharge company.  By now I had worked my way up the corporate ladder from the lowest clerk in the mailroom to… well… running said mailroom.  But what the heck, I was management and hey – it was actually challenging and fun.

     But on the aforementioned day, I was told that I had pulled of some sort of budget miracle.  In those days, budgets were complex, and managed with spreadsheets – real, paper spreadsheets.  Filled out with pencils and all calculations done with Addo-X Adding Machines.  And for some of us more advanced types, our personal, super-sophisticated calculators that would add, subtract, multiply, and even divide.   

     Anyway, I was called into the boss’s office to discuss my department’s annual budget.  Specifically, the fact that I had come in eighty-seven cents under budget for the end of the fiscal year – an absolutely unheard of accomplishment!  I didn’t see what the big deal was; just arithmetic.

     But I was to be allowed to replace our aging, two-year old delivery van – a 1973 Ford “Club Wagon” (Econoline with windows).  The poor thing in two years had run up over 50k on the clock; every corner was bent, some worse than others.  The beast had myriad scratches, dings, and other blemishes, but she was mechanically sound.  And would have to be disposed of.  And by golly, if I wanted it, I could buy it from the company for the not-quite-princely sum of five hundred dollars. 

     Oh, HELL yeah!  A new huntin’ and fishin’ rig!  A definite step up from Otto, my ’73 Super Beetle!  Mind you, I loved ol’ Otto, but hey – space was limited, and the new Duck Truck could comfortably seat eight with luggage!  Or better yet, three or four and bunks.  Yes!  I forked over the five hundred bucks, the boss gave me a signed pink slip, and I was a happy dude.

     But!  I had to register it.  Which, in those days, meant a physical trip to the DMV.  And the DMV in San Francisco was worse than a zoo; therefore, I wisely elected to drive the extra twenty minutes to the Daley City office. Not crowded at all; lines were maybe ten or fifteen minutes.

     Then came my turn.  I handed the lady clerk the signed pink slip with all the transfer fields completed, and fished out my checkbook.

      “Okay!” she said.  “Everything seems to be in order!  We’ll be sending you new plates in the mail in a few weeks and - ”

      “Uh… wait a minnit – new plates?  Howcome new plates?”

      “Oh!  Because you have to surrender the vehicle’s commercial plates!”

     A mite baffled, I pondered a moment, then asked, “but… aren’t vans required to have commercial plates?”

      “Why, yes they are!  But it’s not a van!”

     Now I’m really baffled.  “Well, of course it’s a van!”

      “No it’s not.  It’s a station wagon,” she stated, as if I was a simpleton.

      “No, it’s a van!”

       “No, it’s not!”

      Have you ever had that feeling where you wished you could open the top of your head and scratch your brain?  Well, that’s where I was.

      So I pointed out the window.

       “Ma’am… do you see that green vehicle parked right outside?”

       “Why, yes I do!”

       “And what kind of vehicle is that?”

       “Well, it’s a van, of course!”

       “Well Ma’am, THAT is my vehicle!  And as you can see, it really IS a van!”

       “Oh my!  Well, in THAT case…” she whipped out a new form.  “You have to take this to some sort of state official and have it signed off on as being a van!”

       “But ma’am – aren’t YOU a state official?”

       “If course I am!”

       “So, can’t YOU sign it?”

       “No!  That would require me leaving my window and I will not leave my window!  You might try the CHP office” and with that I was dismissed.

      I sighed, gathered my paperwork, and hied myself on down to the CHP station, where a very grumpy sergeant obliged me by signing off on the paper while making a few interesting and uncomplimentary observations about the DMV.

      I returned to the DMV and completed my transaction.  I retained the commercial plates, and was told to expect a new pink slip in a few weeks.

      And in a few weeks, indeed I did receive a new pink slip on the van.  But, and with all due respect to my Asian friends, my last name does start with Cha-, but is NOT “Chang.”

      So I made my third trip to the Daley City DMV.  I explained the issue, and was advised that a corrected pink slip would be issued, and to expect delivery in a few short weeks.

      I got it.  Only now, with all due respect to my Hispanic friends, my last name had now become Chavez.  Fourth trip to the Daley City DMV.

      Several months later, I walked out of my apartment one morning and was dismayed to discover a ticket on my windshield – I had been cited for “expired registration.  Well poop! 

      I made my fifth trip to the Daley City DMV to ask what the hell happened.  Well, it seems that I had neglected to pay my annual registration by the due date. 

       “But I never received a renewal notice!”

      And of course, this resulted in a lecture about it being MY responsibility to keep track of the registration due dates – NOT the DMV’s.

      Grumpily, I wrote a check that included late fees and penalties and headed home.

      Well, being the bright boy I am (or used to be), I very studiously watched the mail when the expiration date approached – no renewal notice.  Again.  But I was bright enough to take the preventative action of making my sixth trip to the Daley City DMV.

      When my turn came, the lady behind the counter (sadly, the same one I had dealt with on all previous visits), with an air of absolute delight, advised me that not only was my current registration due, but I also owed for the previous year, plus a whole basketful of accumulated fees and penalties!

       “No!  Wait!  I paid those fees!  Right here at this very window!  In fact, I handed YOU the check!”

       “No you didn’t.  And if you did, you have to prove it!”

      Aarrgghh!  So, with that, back home I went.  And, being the good banker boy I was, I religiously kept my bank statements and checks – which, in those days, were as a matter of course returned to the account holder with each statement.

      So, I found the check – clearly endorsed and stamped – and made the trip back to the Daley City DMV.  Trip seven.

      When my turn came, I righteously and triumphantly handed the same “official” lady my documents – including the cancelled check from the previous year.

      She did her stamping and sorting thing, then announced that I still owed a totally silly sum of penalties and back fees.

       “Uh… no, I don’t!  All was current at the time this check was written!”  

       “Nope.  You owe a bunch more for fees and penalties.”

      I must have raised my voice about then, or otherwise displayed an air of displeasure, because the security guard meandered over and with an expression of authority inquired about the “nature of the problem.”

      The lady behind the counter accusingly proclaimed that I was being totally unreasonable and offensive.  The guard assumed his best Buford Pusser demeanor, filled his lungs, hitched up his trousers, and started to advise me that I was to leave the premises forthwith.


      Suddenly, there was another presence.  The Boss Lady herself!

       “What seems to be the problem?” she asked in a calm voice.

      Mister Guard stepped back and watched as the “official” lady clerk proceeded to explain how I had been delinquent, and was refusing to pay the past-due fees and penalties.

      The Boss Lady calmly listened, then to her credit, turned to me and asked if that was accurate.

       “No!” said I… and proceeded to tell the entire story of my history of dealing with this “official,” including the current situation.  She looked at the check, examined the entire stack of papers, then turned to the “official” and clearly said “Edith!  The man was paid in full, his current registration is not past due, he does NOT owe any penalties and is NOT in arrears for ANYTHING.  PROCESS HIS REGISTRATION!”

      She gave me a smile, said “so sorry, sir!” and walked away.

      Edith was not happy, but did as she was ordered.

     The following year, I again did not receive a mailed renewal notice – and made Trip Number Eight to the Daley City DMV.

      By then I’d had enough.  Two weeks later, I was working on the van with my kid brother, received an electrical shock, and in disgust said “That does it.  I’m sick of this thing ~ I’d sell the Duck Truck for five bucks!”

      Charlie grinned and said, “I’ll call cousin Joey B.”

      Joey B showed up with five bucks and drove off with his Mill Valley Green Ford van.

      But wait!  There’s more!

      During the intervening years, there were a few minor skirmishes with the Department of Mindless Villains.  (Note: trying to have a road legal Honda Trail 90 re-registered for off-road use only took four visits to three DMV offices in two counties before finding someone who could process the relatively simple transaction).

      But about 2002, I had to renew my driver’s license.  No big deal; was done through the mail.  But a year later, I moved – this required a physical visit to the Madera DMV to file a change-of-address.  Another simple transaction.  The “gentleman” behind the counter entered my new address in the system, then by hand completed a small, cardboard form with my new address.  This form was to be carried with my actual license, in lieu of replacing it.

      Four (six?) years later, that license was nearing its expiration date.  No renewal notice had been received – but I had learned my 1970’s lessons well!  Several days prior to the expiration date, I presented myself at the Madera DMV.  Again ironically, I found myself across the counter from the same fellow who had previously taken my change of address.  I explained that I had not received a renewal notice.  He queried the system, and declared that the problem was that although the hand-printed address on my “new address” card was correct, the address entered in the system was off by one digit – hence my not receiving a renewal notice.

      But no problem!  All I had to do was apply for a new drivers license!  NEW!  As in BRAND NEW!  New number even!

      I clearly and succinctly explained to this “gentleman” that I had absolutely NO intention of doing so.

      He was insistent – and I was equally insistent that would not happen.  Then I uttered the magic phrase: “I want to see the boss.”

      The “gentleman” was not happy; someone else summoned the “boss.”

      So – the “boss lady” appeared.  Without allowing him a chance to speak, I explained the situation.  She listened, then turned to the “gentleman.”

       “For God’s Sake, Juan!  Correct the address in the system and issue his renewed license!”

Incidentally, this same individual flunked a work colleague on her written exam.  Bobby had moved here from Scotland, wanted a license, but failed to pass.  Until she reviewed her “failed” exam upon her return to the office – and discovered that Juan had apparently used the incurred “key” to score her test.  When she returned to the DMV office to show him, he simply closed his window and walked away.

      Of course, there’s more.  Ask me about trying to re-register my 2002 Mazda Miata.  But another time.

      Indeed… DMV = “Department of Mindless Villains.” 






Edited by Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967
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Posted (edited)

Thanks once again for your immensely captivating and entertaining soliloquy. We're all waiting for the next exciting chapter in your book. There is a book coming.......right?

"Tales of the Hardpan" has a nice ring to it.

Edited by Sixgun Seamus
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10 hours ago, Sixgun Seamus said:

Thanks once again for your immensely captivating and entertaining soliloquy. We're all waiting for the next exciting chapter in your book. There is a book coming.......right?

"Tales of the Hardpan" has a nice ring to it.





      .......... what he ^^^^^ said .....  :mellow:

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12 hours ago, Sixgun Seamus said:

Thanks once again for your immensely captivating and entertaining soliloquy. We're all waiting for the next exciting chapter in your book. There is a book coming.......right?

"Tales of the Hardpan" has a nice ring to it.

Tales of a true Curmudgeon?

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hads a few experiences , never thought to document as it brings back bad memories , but now i see im depriving others of learning experiences 

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Let me know when Tales of the Hardpan comes out!
Delighted in your ability to tell a tale!

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18 hours ago, Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984 said:

Tales of a true Curmudgeon?


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