TBT - The Trouble with the Department of Motor Vehicles

Dealing with the DMV is one of those unavoidable and often unpleasant experiences in life. If you want a driverís license or just a plain vanilla ID you have to deal with a bureaucracy filled with slow and inept people. I am sure everyone has their own personal horror story about their local DMV.

The most frustrating experience I had with them occurred in the early ë80s when my 17 year old daughter wanted an ID card from the DMV in Goulds, Florida. I took her to the DMV office and presented her US Passport to prove her citizenship and date of birth. The clerk looked at the passport and handed it back saying it was no good. I asked what did she mean? She replied: ìThe passport has expiredî. I replied: ìWell - as you can see, she is standing here in front of you and she has not expired!î. No sense of humor either.

Doing what any rational citizen would do when dealing with a idiot clerk - I asked for a supervisor. The clerk returned with the DMV office supervisor and she looked at the passport and said the same thing! Everyone in that office was drinking the same cool aid.

So I grabbed my daughter and we went to the DMV office in Homestead, Florida. We walked out 10 minutes later with her new ID - they had no problem with the ëexpiredí passport. In the face of bureaucratic obstinance - perseverance pays - sometimes.

But my favorite story with the DMV involved driving around in Puerto Rico. In that same period, the early í80s, I was spending a lot of time down there with an ornamental plant nursery. Driving around unfamiliar narrow roads in the mountains of PR can be hazardous - in many ways. One day I came around a bend in the road near Ponce and hit a school zone without enough warning to slow down, and the cops were waiting. They signaled me over to the shoulder, and instead of a ticket, they took my Florida driverís license away from me and said that I could reclaim my license at the Ponce Police Dept. when I paid the $65 fine in their office.

The fine seemed a bit steep to me - and the whole thing was just another speed trap, like you find in some rural areas of the US. So I returned to Florida two weeks later without paying the fine and without my license. In my mind I rehearsed a couple stories to tell the DMV about why I needed a duplicate driverís license: I lost the old one - someone stole my wallet in PR . . . .

But I have a rule that has worked well for me many times - try telling the truth first, and if that does not get the desired results, then get creative! A real saver of time and energy -when it works.

So I went into the Homestead DMV and told them what happened in PR. The clerk said: ìFive dollars and we will make you a duplicate licenseî. I asked: ìWhat about the fine in PR?î. The clerk gave me a quizzical look and said: ìThat is their problem down thereî.

A month later I was back in PR and the same thing happened again at a different speed trap - they took my duplicate license for speeding. And when I got back to Florida a little later I plunked down another $5 for another duplicate license. I was up $120 at this point!

To this day I wonder if those driverís licenses they took from me are still collecting dust in some desk in PR.

Where ever you travel - alway leave something behind for them to remember you by?!