Friday, June 18, 2010

The California DMV and Mountain Biking

So I’m going to tell you a story about my experience at the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles)…it’s not pretty and this is a bit of a rant. In fact it is a testimony to the incompetence that the DMV seems to celebrate with the hiring of its employees. I live in the Glendale California area, and I’m not saying that I went to the Glendale DMV, but it would be out of my way to do otherwise.

I was going to the DMV to try to complete the registration of one of my motorcycles, and all that I needed to complete was a brake and light inspection. Now, just to preface the situation, I had been trying to find a brake and light inspection station (from this point on I’ll call it the BLS) off and on for about 2 years. Unable to find one locally, I fell back upon the DMV rule that said,

“Exception: When an official California brake and light station that inspects specific vehicles, such as motorcycles or large commercial vehicles is not located within a reasonable distance, the DMV will accept a Statement of Facts (REG 256) from a California repair shop certifying that the brakes and lights are in proper working order.”

So this is the course of action that I followed with no official California BLS within a reasonable distance from my house. I went to a nearby Honda motorcycle dealership and they did the Statement of Facts (from this point on I’ll call this a SOF). Now, you need to remember that dealerships repair the vehicles that they sell, hence a car dealership fixes cars and a motorcycle dealership fixes motorcycles…this will be important later. I know that any intelligent human being understands this, but you will see later that I was not dealing with intelligence.

So with past paperwork from previous DMV visits and my new SOF sheet from the dealership in hand, I go to the DMV to finally get my motorcycle on the road. Once there I waited in line and finally was given the chance to speak to one of the fine state licensing employees, who turned out to be a middle aged gentleman with a rather bored and vapid look about him. I explained what I needed, and what I had, and handed the whole shebang to him. He looked at the papers and I saw that he immediately threw away my shiny new SOF and began typing on his computer. Well to make a long story shorter, he typed and filled forms and typed some more and then asked for $303 from me. Now anyplace else you would receive merchandise upon payment of funds, but at the DMV you apparently get to pay for the privilege of watching them “work”. He took my check and handed my paperwork back and told me (with a thick accent) that I need to provide a BLS inspection certificate. I looked at him with my best “you’re kidding, right?” look. He continued to look blankly at me for several seconds before I pointed out that the SOF that he so quickly threw away at the very beginning of our business transaction was exactly what fulfilled that requirement. With a large sigh he shuffled through his garbage can and found the needed papers. Now, I have to say that almost the whole time that I was watching him type and fill out papers, about 20 minutes or so, there was a rather large woman (another fine state employee) standing behind him and jackjawing to another equally rotund and fine state employee. At this time he turned to the first robust woman (a supervisor) and showed her my SOF. They mumbled to each other for a few moments and she turned to me and said that they needed an official BLS certificate. I told her that there wasn’t a motorcycle BLS station within a reasonable distance from my home and so I fell back on the DMV rule that said I could use a SOF, and further explained that if she were to look on the internet at the official DMV site she could see the very same information. She promptly told me that BLS stations are all over the place. Yes, I replied, for cars but not for motorcycles. OHHHHH, she said, yeah they are hard to find for motorcycles. It seemed to me that I had won a point and that things were looking up. My buddy the paper pusher had assumed his vapid and completely blank look….

Here is where the laws of physics and logic broke down. I must have fallen into Alice’s rabbit hole because the absurdity of what I was about to go through was mind boggling!

The supervisor then told me that I needed a SOF from a BLS station. I looked at her. Hmmmm, well if I had found a BLS station, I would have a certificate….wouldn’t I?! I again explained that the DMV website explains that if I can’t find a BLS station the SOF would suffice. So captain vapid typed some more and moved his computer mouse around frantically…and they both leaned in toward the computer screen. The illustrious supervisor then read to me the definition of what a BLS station is. I told them that was not what I saw when I looked at the site and that they were looking in the wrong place. Super duper supervisor looked at me and said, “I’m looking at the DMV site right now and that is what it says.” I calmly told her that we didn’t need the definition of a BLS station, but the rule about when I could use a SOF, and that was on another part of the site. She looked at me, I looked at her, capt. Vapid stared off into space. “I’m looking at the DMV site and that is what it says“ she restated. I realized that I was not dealing with someone of even average intelligence, that the DMV hiring process seems to have struck again.

I needed to take another line of attack. I decided to agree and then redirect…I told her that I realize that the rule says I needed to go to a BLS station, and I was not arguing that point whatsoever. But that if I could NOT find a BLS station I could use the SOF as a replacement. She actually seemed to accept what I said and looked at the SOF. At the bottom of the SOF it was signed by the service manager of the Honda motorcycle dealership. Now, remember when I told you at the beginning that dealerships also repair the vehicles they sell? Well here is where that comes into play. She looked at the signature and saw that it was a dealership that signed the document. She quickly seized upon this point and stated, “I see here that it was a dealership that signed this SOF, and when I see that I know that dealerships only SELL motorcycles.” AHAAA!!! She made such a point that she could not help getting a very smug look on her face. My jaw dropped open, my eyes stared….my mind thought “ARE YOU F’ING KIDDING????!!!! HOW STUPID ARE YOU????!!!!” I closed my mouth and I calmly explained that it is a motorcycle dealership and dealerships also repair motorcycles, just as if she took her car for a repair to the car dealership. She looked at me, I looked at her, captain vapid looked off into space.

Now I’ve found that stupid people, when confronted with superior logic, tend to let their trains of thought randomly derail and jump tracks, rather than actually admit defeat or have to think. Case in point, she immediately said, “But you need a certificate from a BLS station.” Back to Square One. Ok, so again I am going to jump forward to save time, but let me say that we went through this rigmarole several times, almost exactly the same verbiage coming out of both our mouths…and there was never any sign of her making any kind of logical or intelligent connections. At one point I actually had the gall to suggest that she call the Honda dealership and ask if they repair motorcycles. Of course that meant actually doing something other than talking to her friend, so that was out of the question. I again asked her to look at the correct spot on the DMV website to actually see the rule instead of a definition…she refused that too. I could not believe that someone could be so inept and unwilling to actually do their job that they were volunteering to look like a complete idiot.

This is why the state of California is losing money, we hire people that have realized that they don’t need to do ANYTHING and they still get a nice paycheck….which means the state then has to hire another person to actually do the work that the first person isn’t doing.

Oh, I still have to go back to the DMV…I paid $303, but I didn’t get what I paid for yet. Tell me how they get away with that?

So, you are probably asking how this relates to mountain biking. I’ll tell you. That night I went for a ride with one of my buddies…and as I pedaled down the trail the stress of the day melted away. Once I’m riding the world is a better place and I get to leave the idiocy behind…

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