Let us now praise the Government

Well, I put it off as long as I could, but finally I had to go to the DMV today to renew both my license tabs and my driver’s license. That’s kind of like waiting to go to the dentist until you need a root canal and bridgework. Anyway, I hoofed it over to the Hennepin County Government Center at lunchtime today, anticipating a gulag-like shuffle as if in leg-irons from one counter to another while hoping the re-education wouldn’t be too painful.

The first thing I noticed when I got there was that the HCGC has changed quite a bit in the four years since it last darkened my soul. The main reception area has been re-designed, and is airier, even bright. Rather than a bunker, the lady in the information booth was in a half-moon shaped desk that looked almost conceirge-like. When I asked where I needed to go she gave me directions with what almost appeared to be a smile.

I got to the motor vehicle area a little later than I had hoped to, and was thus expecting a long line. Instead, this reception area was also well-lit and pleasantly decorated and there was only one person ahead of me and he was quickly dispatched. I stepped up to where the state employee was conducting bureaucratic triage and distributing waiting numbers. This fellow as even jovial as he confirmed that I could get both of my missions accomplished by the same person at the same time, then he gave me my number and the form I needed to fill out and pointed me to a comfortable waiting area, around which were 19 service windows arranged in a semi-circle. Regularly a pleasant voice on the intercom would say “Number such-and-such, now being served at window 18” or similar. Did she say served?

A few minutes later my number was up and I went to my assigned window where the woman there was bright-eyed and smiling. In less than a minute she had done what she needed to with my forms and had me standing on the little blue line, looking into the camera. The bright flash left a dinner-plate sized spot in front of my eyes, but I was still able to examine my new photo. Something was wrong, however. “I don’t know who that old guy is on the screen,” I told the woman. “But I’ve never seen him before.” She actually giggled.

After blinking several times I was able to autograph the last document and then she handed me my brand new license tabs. Just like that I was on my way, my head swimming at the ease of the experience (and a little from the after-effects of the flash). I wasn’t so discombobulated, however, that I didn’t see the table of cookies and juice that had materialized in the waiting room. Blinking a few more times, I confirmed that, yes, there was a table full of cookies there – chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and sugar – and a juice dispenser. No camera crews were in sight, either, as I surveyed the room. I considered the tray of cookies the way a cautious bear might sniff at an unexpected honeypot in a clearing. “What the heck,” I thought as I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie. It was soft and delicious.

Now that’s what I call my tax dollars at work!

3 thoughts on “Let us now praise the Government

  1. Don’t let them suck you in dear. The cookies and juice were there because they had just taken blood from you. Apparently they learned something from the Red Cross.

  2. If you miss the Russian gulag style of government bureaucracy, and it’s no longer available at the DMV, I suggest you try losing your social security card, and going to that office. I went to the one in Brooklyn Park. That will restore your faith in how the powers that be are able to turn a 30 second transaction into a 2 hour ordeal.

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