Friday, May 22, 2009

Frank's Tips for Surviving the Secretary of State

I took my middle child to the Secretary of State today to acquire his level one driver's license. (That's the BMV for my three Indiana readers). It was . . . exactly what you would expect. And since Frankly Speaking is such a helpful oriented blog (wink, wink), I thought I would pass along several useful tips for surviving your upcoming trip to purgator . . . er . . . the license branch, as we call it back home.
  1. Pack a lunch. And plenty of fluids. There is a reason that the acronym is "SOS." You might want to go as far as investing in a GPS transponder beacon in case your loved ones become concerned for your whereabouts. And they will. In fact, you might want to stop at Gander Mountain before your visit to see if there is something freeze dried or dehydrated just to be certain that it is edible after your long delay. The wise survivalist will pack additional food for his fellow travelers so that the freeze-dried ice cream you bring along can be traded for a higher place in the line.
  2. Bring documentation. All of it. That you've ever received. Because, when you step up to the counter and the bureaucrat on the other side asks you to identify yourself, smiling and responding, "I am me," isn't going to cut it. You're going to need your Social Security card, naturally. And your birth certificate - the original one with the raised seal. You're also going to want something official with your address on it. A water bill; a title to your vehicle. If, however, you are like my son and have not lived long enough to establish that you are who you are, you might also want to bring along the scrapbook that your mother made for you. Locks or hair, your first lost tooth, the tubes that you had in your ears at one point - each of these contain traces of DNA that can be used to establish your identity. A report card works, if it has your address on it. But you might also want to bring along your teacher(s), and other relatives that can tell helpful anecdotes about the time when you were four years old and urinated on the front lawn in full view of the ladies bridge club across the street.
  3. Ask a computer guru to accompany you. Your service specialist is probably going to have to input your data at least once or, as in my case today, four times, before calling tech support for assistance. If at all possible, just bring Bill Gates with you to the branch. Or Steve Jobs. Oh wait . . . if the State used Apple they wouldn't need tech support.
  4. Make a game of it. This can make all the difference between sanity and . . . well, insanity. Begin a pool with your fellow masochists. Everyone throws in a buck to bet which employee is going to be serving you. Will it be the girl that looks like she graduated high school twelve minutes ago? The frustrated former middle management executive from GM? Really want to have fun? Stop at the bakery beforehand and snatch a random "now serving" number. When you arrive at the SOS, wait several minutes and then loudly ask, "Wait a minute! Did I miss my number? I've got 83 here!" Of course, that only works if they're nowhere near 83, but you can figure out that part of it.
  5. Make a buck. Make sure you take two numbers (you'll have to do this on the sly). Wait thirty minutes and then very quietly auction off the extra number. You're going to have to be subtle about this, however, as someone is likely to rip the pen and chain off the counter and either use the chain to strangle you or the pen to shiv you (or both).
With enough creativity, planning and patience (and a prescription for Valium), your trip to the Secretary of State doesn't have to be a mind-numbing, exercise in frustration.

NOTE TO "THAT READER": It is called humor. The views expressed in this column were intended to be satirical in nature and are not intended to reflect anger, frustration, perspiration or indigestion. Thank you, have a nice day.


Anonymous said...

Frank, you made one HUGE error.

DO NOT TAKE ANY FOOD OR FLUIDSSOS offices do not have a rest room of any kind. If you are waiting for an hour or more, that can be a real problem.

Plus, if you leave to find a place to relieve yourself, you can be sure they will pass by your number and then you will have to take a new number and start all over again!

Bill W.

Faith said...

I really like the Secretary of State, "License Branch" in Sturgis. There are almost never anyone waiting in there, and if you have to leave cuz you forgot something, they give you a slip of paper stating what time you were there and when you come back, you do not have to stand in line. Just go up to the blue square on the floor and then you are the next one in line.

Lorabele said...

Frank, this is one of the funniest things I've read in years. Keep it coming, friend.