If you are thinking of a perfect Tuesday, I am guessing you do it by starting with a visit to the DMV, and then close with a visit to the dentist.
Yes, this was my recent Tuesday, when I had these two delightful events book-ending my day.
I wouldn’t have normally planned it this way. My dentist appointment had been set for many months. And my DMV visit was dictated by living in a pandemic world. I had to get a replacement for an expired plate, so I had to actually go into the DMV, for which you need to set an appointment.
In pre-pandemic times, I usually just do a do-drop-in at the DMV. I live right around the corner from one, so I zip over at various times, gauge the line, and if it’s a problem, I just come back another time. But these are not those times.
Several weeks ago, I went online to set my DMV appointment. When I went online back in early July, I saw that there was one at 4:30 on the very day I was currently living. Perfect, I thought. Then I remembered that I had a work meeting at the same time, to which I thought, imperfect. No worries, let’s see what else is open.
Nothing. Not a single opening for the rest of July. I am really curious how that one 4:30 appointment managed not to get snagged.
So I booked the soonest one I could, which was early August.
I arrived for my 10:45 appointment with all of my paperwork in order. I approached the front door, and it was clear the DMV visit was going to be different. There were a handful of folks out front, waiting for access. There was a woman at a desk right inside the front door. An employee standing near the store said to me, “Do you have an appointment?” I told him I did, and he directed me inside. I spoke with the woman at the desk who got me checked in and said, “OK, you can go wait outside or in your car and we will text you when it’s time to come in for your appointment.”
I went to my car and cranked it up, wondering if the folks who were all standing out in the heat maybe didn’t have air conditioning in their cars or something. I turned on some music, leaned my seat back, and set in for what I assumed would be a usual DMV-sized wait. And about 30 seconds later I got a text from the DMV telling me it was game on time.
I walked back in and the woman asked my name. “Window number 7,” she said.
That’s it? Just … walk to the window? No sitting in a crowded waiting room with my chair backed up to someone who wants to lean back and nap on me? No child who really doesn’t want to be at the DMV who is constantly reminding everyone of that? No person who wants to watch YouTube videos with the sound up and no earphones in? This is not the DMV I know.
And sure enough, I went to window 7, and I got the new plate, and I was done. And it was not even 11. Not even 15 minutes total.
I went back to my car and texted my wife. “That was unsettlingly easy.”
I know COVID has changed a lot of our lives forever. But I am still hopeful that some of these changes stick for the future, as I think they are for the better. Six feet distance from people? I’m super good with that. People washing their hands on a regular basis? Not sure why they weren’t doing this before. But I did not even start to think the COVID could make the DMV a breeze of an event. I am hopeful that appointments and hanging out in your car (or out front) stays a thing from here to eternity. It made for a super easy (and fast) interaction. It will almost put a spring in your step. And make you forget you have a dentist appointment later in the day.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.