After hearing the horror stories on the news about the long lines at the DMV recently, I decided to give it a try in the late afternoon. To get a Real ID license, I needed to make an in-person visit, so I went to the DMV in Massapequa. The story you are about to read is mostly true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
The parking lot is full, but there doesn’t seem to be a line coming out of the DMV office located on the inside corner of the “L” shaped building. It looks like I made the right decision.
The greeter directed me to two lines in front of the photo station. I chose the one on the left with four people instead of the one with six.
My line is not moving. I got the greeter’s attention with the universal “What’s Going on?” signal holding my palms up. “That’s not a line,” he shouted. “That’s just some people standing around.” I silently moved to the real line, which now had eight people in front of me.
The pleasant clerk took my photo and asked to review my paperwork. “This isn’t half bad,” I thought. She typed a few keystrokes into the computer and said, “Everything looks good, sir,” handing it all back to me with a little piece of paper with the number U803 on it, requesting I take a seat. Bummer. I sat in the front near the counters and waited for U803 to be called.
Hearing the robotic voice making announcements every time a new number was called, I wanted to yell out “BINGO” just for laughs. Casually, I smiled at the person next to me, asking how long he had been waiting. He said since last Tuesday. He wasn’t laughing…
The woman directly in front of me working at counter 7 has been dawdling for more than 10 minutes without calling a number. The staff at counters ”6” and “8” are processing a lot of customers while “7” is still trying to get comfortable in her chair. Finally, she calls “R514.”
Starting to wonder if I will ever see my wife and children again. I just want one last chance to say goodbye.
Things are deteriorating rapidly. There hasn’t been a “Q” or “U” called in more than 20 minutes. Someone drew a picture of the girl at counter “7” on form MV-44 and burned it in protest. She processed just two numbers in the last half hour. The woman at counter “8” is suddenly moving much faster.
A shirtless man with his necktie tied around his head like a bandana is shouting, “What happened to the Q’s?”
Counter “7” has gone dark. The girl is missing. The workers at counters “6” and “8” are wearing black armbands and I believe there was a moment of silence.
Spied a woman in the next row waiting for “U801” to be called. We bonded and vowed to marry if we ever got out of here alive.
Starting to lose consciousness. Wait, did I just hear “U801?” I turned to congratulate my new friend, but she was gone. Godspeed “U801”, Godspeed…
I slipped from my chair when my number appeared on the board, dropping to my knees to thank our creator. Making my way to counter “10” with tears in my eyes, I presented my paperwork. I turned to view those still waiting for their turn and felt pity for them. Then I heard the customer at counter “11” say, “What do you mean you can’t complete the transaction?”
I woke up in the ambulance with my wife holding my hand. She told me for the last 20 minutes I just kept babbling, “The system is down; the system is down…”
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.