Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Binghamton Experience: "DMV Chapter"

I never would have thought that a trip to the DMV would shed such light on The Binghamton Experience. My story today is two-fold, so I think I'll make it into 2 separate posts (because I'm CRAZY like that!)

First, why/what the DMV:
I received a jury summons in L.A., which means that I have to prove that I don't live there, which prompted me to finally go about getting a NY driver's license. Now, this is a bit traumatic because I JUST endured The DMV Experience in August, for the happy reason that I needed to change my name to "Williams" (yeah!). I also took a damn good picture for once, so it was a double bonus to have the new name with the new hot photo. More importantly, I had just recently experienced one of the Layers of Hell, which IS the Los Angeles DMV Experience.

In case you don't know, Los Angeles County has about 10 million people (literally). There are 29 DMV locations serving that population, which means there is about 1DMV site per 350,000 people. To be totally blunt, it sometimes feels (especially in the core of LA County, where I live) that probably 340,000 of these people might not come from this country and, as a result, do not speak English or at least not "well." This makes processing times MUCH slower. I had to make an appointment, online, nearly 1 month ahead of time, TWICE, to achieve my goals at the DMV in L.A. 'Nuf said.

Anyway, I had seen the Broome County DMV in passing, because it is located in the middle of "Antiques Row" on Clinton Street in Binghamton. (This is another posting in itself, because the lack of "antiques" or even a "row" might be the biggest "bait and switch" around, but I won't digress.)

So I pop into the small building on a small, very retail- (or now, saloon-) oriented street and find myself in the lobby of a lovely, vacuous space that feels just like a bank lobby. I am the 2nd person in line, which gives me just enough time to look around and see that this is, in fact, a bank lobby, complete with exposed vintage vault and tons of unused space where the "personal banking" used to take place at fancy desks.

I waited approximately 2 minutes and all of my questions were promptly and concisely answered. I was shocked by the ease of dealing with this county bureaucracy. It seems that Broome County has a population of only 200,000, and, with 5 DMV outlests, that means a mere 40,000 people per DMV!! No wonder there is such fast and easy service. Plus, the lack of any language barrier can't hurt with the ol' "through-put times."

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