Dear New York State DMV,

Ten minutes. What's up with that? I think that it took me longer to walk there and back.

I decided that it was high time that I surrendered my Massachusetts driver's license in favor of one from the Empire State. I went through the rigmarole of getting my Social Security card reissued (I must have had one before this, I have a Social Security number after all, but I've never seen an actual card in my name before last week.) Prior to Monday, I would have said that the Social Security Administration's Brooklyn office had the market cornered on efficient bureaucracy, but you, NYS DMV, have got them beat hands down.

I await the results of your institutional photography skills.


Subway Knitter

I went prepared for a long wait. Indeed, when I stepped inside I noticed a few poor souls perched on those light-wood benches in the middle of the room. I walked up to desk number one (the desk where your paperwork gets a cursory review for completeness, and you get directed to the correct line), and I was told to go see the guy at the camera immediately--where there was no line. The camera guy quickly looked at my documents, made some scribbles in a red marker pen, and took my photograph (I hope that my hair was okay). He then gave me a printed receipt with a number, and told me to sit on a bench and wait for my number to be called.

"Ah, ha!" I said. Here's the wait. How much knitting am I going to get done? What's blinking on the board up there...K42. What does my ticket say? K42. Hey, that's me! I was summoned to window 16 without a chance to sit down.

At window 16 I was relieved of $45; my passport, Social Security card, and Massachusetts license were all scrutinized for authenticity. More scribbles were made on my application form. Stamps were used. Getting a driver's license is a serious business these days. I remember when my 16-and-a-half-year-old self showed up at the RMV (it's a "Registry" in Massachusetts, compared with a "Department" in New York) with little more than a copy of my birth certificate and some form that got stamped by the registry cop who administered my driving test. When I officially moved to Rhode Island in 1997, all that I needed was my valid Massachusetts license. When I moved back to Massachusetts, the RMV simply took my Rhode Island license and reissued my yet-to-have-expired old license (yeah, that was some good record keeping there--move to another state and they forgot to cancel my file.) Heck, I applied for my passport with less documentation than what I needed to show yesterday morning.

Anyway, I was done at window 16 in about five minutes. The entire transaction took (and I am not making this up) less than 10 minutes. I left with a paper receipt, a temporary license, and a promise that the real license would arrive in my mailbox within two to four weeks.

So obviously, I am one of a select few eligible to operate a motor vehicle under the flag of New York State. And I don't even own a car! If I did, though, I am disappointed to report that this registration is already taken:


You can always come back to Boston if you need to get some knitting done...

If you really want to experience what NYC is all about go to the Dept. Of Vital Records. I think I left great heaping chunks of my sanity there while trying to correct my son's birth certificate.

Or get a subway violation. They will really give you something to complain about.

Was the car sporting that license plate vandalized in any way? That's ballsy.

wow, my last trip to the DMV was hell on earth. i never want to go back there again. lucky girl!

I'm astonished that license plate wasn't sporting a fine patina of egg. Way to continue the infiltration, Colleen.

Pennsylvania is a similar tiptoe through the tulips. California? You wait for at least an hour even if you made an appointment. Hell on earth.

I had similar good luck at the 34th St "express" DMV! I wonder if that's where you went. I hope that the picture is good :)

My DMV experience in Illinois was similarly swift: window 1, window 2, photo (twice, then pick the one I want), wait 2 minutes then leave with the license in hand.

that's an awesome plate.

It took me about 10 minutes to renew my NYS drivers license last year (I had to get my grown up 21 license - yay). I was floored. But in classic DMV fashion I did almost get to see some young punk get beat up by a middle aged man who could obviously hold his own.

Also, you'd be surprised to know that there are quite a few Red Sox fans on Long Island. Back in the day the farther out areas couldn't get NY radio, so they only got the Boston games - consequently there is a large community of Sox fans on far eastern LI (I know this b/c an ex-boyfriend worked with a Sox fan at NYU and they were pretty brutal to the guy, putting yankees bumper stickers on his car. In the end though they chipped in and bought him a Boston jersey for being such a good sport).

It must be a first time visitor special...of course if you went to the DMV in any borough besides Manhattan I can believe it. I heard rumors that they are less busy.

Dude, it took me three tries at the RMV and getting glasses to get a license in Massachusetts.
I can't begin to tell you the horror the RMV is today.

That seems like a foolhardy vanity plate to be riding around NYC in!?! Yikes. I enjoyed my NY driver's license because it was pink and lacy looking. I hope they're still rather victorian looking.

You must realise that if you had forgotten your knitting there would have been a 45 minute minimum wait.

Wow...things have changed quite a bit since I moved out of New York in 1999. I remember spending hours in line!

This gives me hope for when I decide to swap my MA license for an NY one. Experiences at the MA RMV have left me skittish.

Wow. I had a similar experience getting my link pass transferred to a Charlie Card. It was kind of shocking. No line, quick and relatively (for Boston) friendly service. Amazing.

I only get through the RMV that quickly when I go to the one in Chinatown before 8, so I am one of the first in line.

I've been to DMV to surrender plates for clients and it's usually a fairly quick experience. I think it depends on what you're doing and maybe you just got there at a good time.

My crazy uncle once tried to put me in my place by saying, "If you like the DMV, you'll love socialized medicine." I smugly replied that I spent far less time and money at the DMV *without* an appointment and actually left with what I came for. (In CT you could renew your license on a *traveling bus* for a while!!)

Of course, NJ was a whole other animal. :)


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