Thursday, July 07, 2005


While much of the world was following, to a greater or lesser extent, the news of terrorist bombings in London, I was taking an extended lunch break and waiting for my number to be called at the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles.

Is there any state out there where a trip to the DMV is not dreaded? I remember when I moved to California, a Californian gave me a tip about how to deal with the DMV. Never just show up and wait in line. Call and make an appointment. It worked pretty slick, and my only times at DMV counters in California, to register my car and get my driver's license, were relatively painless. OK, so they were also more than a decade ago, so maybe my memory is giving the California DMV experiences more credit than they deserve. And there was certainly sticker shock at how much I had to pay to register my car. That was not a pleasant experience. But I didn't have to wait a long period of time to pay the state of California big bucks. And the only other times I went to California DMV offices was to pick up, or drop off, forms and get the hell outta there.

Today I was back at a good old Oregon DMV office. I wasn't expecting an ungodly wait. When I stopped in there a week or so ago to pick up some paperwork and a driver's manual, the line didn't seem to bad. But today, when I stopped in after lunch, the line was almost out the door. They had a person working a little triage booth inside the entrance to direct people to which line they needed to stand in and to hand out forms, and little numbers, so we could each wait our turn.

My number: 71.

The number the counterworker just called: 25.

I took my paperwork and made my way over to the chairs to wait. For 45 more people to be helped.

I should have brought a book. I should have brought my driver's manual. At least I could study for the driver's test so I could make sure I only have to make one more trip to DMV.

Fortunately for me, people don't seem to have a lot of patience, or time, and a lot of people had left long before their numbers were called. The clerks were blazing through numbers 3 and 4 at a time before someone would respond and walk up to the counter. So my wait was not as protracted as I had feared. And I walked out with a new set of Oregon license plates for the truck.

Oregon and California DMVs work different in other ways too. I think I got my first set of California license plates at the DMV office the day I registered my car, but my driver's license I had to wait for, as they send that through the mail. All licenses are issued out of Sacramento. Of course they confiscated my Oregon driver's license at the same time, so for what seemed like an eternity, I had no photo ID, which was much more traumatic when I was in my 20s and still occasionally carded at bars or buying alcohol. Now, it probably wouldn't matter much. Although I have had to show my drivers license a few times lately in setting up accounts, getting my apartment and such. But here in Oregon the DMV hands you your license before you leave the office.

I find myself wanting to mix and match the benefits of Oregon and California to suit my likes and dislikes. Oregon's closeness to family with California's closeness to friends. Oregon's cost of living with California's pay scale. Oregon's scenic beauty, melded with California's sunshine and blue skies. Oregon's housing prices, with California's self-service gas. Oregon's all-nude strip clubs and California's ability to buy liquor at the grocery store.

If I think of others I'll try to remember to post them later in another entry in my ideal state, Californegon. Or would that be Oregfornia?

And before I close, I will note that sometime in the next 24 hours, this site is likely to welcome it's 5,000th visitor since about January 5 of this year. I've revised the site counter so lucky No. 5,000 will know who they are. I won't likely be able to tell who that person is, (although I've figured out who a few of you are by how you access the site), but if he or she chooses to self-identify, that would be great. Maybe we'll even come up with some sort of prize like we did for the 3,000th visitor, which was never claimed.


kat said...

ahhh man, 4995. why couldn't i wait until later in the morning?

Anonymous said...

This post leaves me wondering just how you pronounce the word "Oregon." Is it OreGON? or ORegon? Damn.

Kaos said...

Its Ore-gun. You'll get laughed at if you pronounce it OreGON or Ory-GON like a lot of out of state people do.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't that be an organ then? You forgot the middle "ih" syllable.

For anyone who's taken Oregon's written driver's license test, how is it? The manual is well over 100 pages, and I'm not sure how closely I need to read it. After all, a lot of the facts and figures are not exactly common sense and can't easily be guessed.

grace said...

damn, i'm # 5011.

yeah... CA DMVs suck ass. seriously. ugh. even WITH an appt.

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