Friday, March 7, 2014


How I feel sometimes

Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV’s) have a bad reputation.  I am not saying it is not justified, but they have a bad reputation.  It is always a place where time seems to  be without any value to people.  At least it is where the officials do not seem to value anybody else’s time.  I am not sure why it has to be that way, but it is the same everywhere.  Avoid going to the DMV if at all possible.

Look at those lug nuts!
Last week I was driving faster than I should have.  We received a text from President telling us to go get the elders in Utuado, a remote place in the middle of the island. 
Road to Utuado
There is not a quick way to get there.  It was late on Saturday night, we were tired, and we had to go get the elders because they did not have water or electricity in their apartment.  Come on, Boy Scouts go without electricity or water every weekend.  They had gallons stored for emergencies, so they would have been fine.  In fact, they live just a block from the church.  But we got in the car and drove the hour to get there and take them to Arecibo for the weekend.  They ended up sleeping on the floor of the other elders’ apartment.  I was stopped for going too fast through a reduced speed area.  I did not see the sign. The trooper was really nice, almost apologizing for stopping me.  He told me I have 30 days from then to pay the ticket.

I decided it would be best to pay the fine early in the day because the reputation of the DMV in Puerto Rico is even more negative than other places.  So this morning, about 1000, I drove to the DTOP office ( I have no idea what those initials stand for but it is the Puerto Rican equivalent of the DMV) to take care of my civic duty.  

I knew it was going to be grim when I could not find a parking spot within a block.  

Actually the place is on a busy highway and there were cars parked on the sidewalks, 

including a big unit that pulls big trailers.  
I am walking in the street because the vehicles are on the sidewalk.

The actual parking lot was bedlam.  

I think the people who pulled into the parking lot thinking they were saving time because they would not have to walk more than 10 steps, those people were probably still trying to unscramble the mess at closing time this afternoon.  It was worse than trying to get out of a parking lot at a BYU football game.
I entered the building and saw several lines snaking around the room.  Nobody was speaking English and there were no English signs telling me what to do.  I saw a wheelchair-accessible window on the far wall with a lady sitting behind the glass, so I went there.  There was nobody else in the line and it said something about express or fast or something like that.  I leaned down to talk through the hole at the bottom of the window.  I don’t know why they do it here, but everywhere in public offices, except in a bank, the people who are “serving” the public are behind a glass wall, through which communication does not happen.  There is a lot of shouting and gesticulating to try to get the message across.  It is the worst arrangement I can imagine anybody devising.  Some bureaucrat with nothing more to do, I suppose.

Anyway, I said I had a question, to which the lady behind the glass said, “I don’t speak English.”  I pushed the ticket through the hole.  She asked me in broken English “want to pay ticket?” to which I nodded in assent.  She indicated that she could help me.  She tried with great difficulty to read the writing on the form, would smile when she figured out what the scrawl said, and eventually, after about 5 minutes of work, she printed out a letter and handed it and the ticket back to me, indicating that I would need to go to the next building to pay the ticket.  I thanked her and left.  

I have been told that that first stage of the process usually takes half a day of standing in various lines trying to communicate with non-English clerks to get the letter.  What the letter says is that the car does not have any outstanding fines.  Yep.  The car gets the fine, not the driver.  When it comes time to re-register the car, if there are any fines outstanding, the vehicle cannot be registered until the fines are resolved (paid for).  Go figure.
Sisters from Mexico and Dominican Republic.  Love these ladies!
I went to the next building where a guard at the door looked at my paperwork and nodded approvingly (I think she was surprised that I had already obtained the necessary letter), indicating that I should wait in the line forming across the entryway.  In a few minutes she beckoned me to go into the building, where I stood in another line for 15 minutes before being called by the next available public servant to come to his work station.  He didn’t speak Spanish, either, but he was also nice and friendly.  He asked for my driver’s license, and when he saw Idaho written on the front he acted a bit surprised.  I smiled and nodded, saying, “Great American potato.”  That brought a smile to his face.  He told me how much to pay, I handed it over, he signed the papers and I was finished.  It took less than an hour to do something that I had been told would take at least 3 hours and be worth several higher blood pressure points than I wanted to admit.  I walked back out through the jumbled parking lot, walked the block to my car, and drove to the office to get to work on my vehicle report. It was not yet noon.

Friendly office elders.  Love these men!
It was a great day.  And tomorrow is our 41st wedding anniversary.  
Wedding anniversary is as good as any reason to celebrate.  Love you, Babe.

Time flies when we are having fun.  Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment