Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Notes from the Maryland MVA

Dennis Miller once described the experience of going to the California DMV as being "where Franz Kafka meets (former blonde "Dallas" actress) Charlene Tilton." Today's visit to its Maryland equivalent wasn't quite that bad, but there were challenges.

My license expires Thursday, so I needed a temporary credential until the real one arrives in the mail (They don't give them to you in person anymore, and I thought I missed the apparent window for renewing by mail). I went in with my eye exam and form already completed. All I needed to do was pay $48 and I was good for 8 years.

I checked in at the info desk, then one of the sit down desks where the MVA worker needed to enter my eye test into the system as she performed them to other customers herself (she worked with impressive efficiency.)

They referred me to an automated kiosk to complete the process; there was a long line, abetted by one extremely slow customer and general confusion among people who'd never done the kiosk thing before. Thankfully, MVA staffers intervened and were shepherding people through the process.

Eventually they directed us to a second kiosk outside that only took credit cards and checks, no cash. An elderly couple in front of me completed the laborious process, only to have the payment system fail and the machine go offline.

So I rejoined the line for the original kiosk. They referred me to an online alternative. I completed the process and, when I was ready to print my documents and leave, they disappeared from the screen.

MVA worker: "You were supposed to do it from the kiosk, not the online station."

RJC: "YOU told me to use the online station."

Anyway, they found the paperwork I needed to get out of there.

I was a state employee for four years, and I'm definitely not a bureaucracy basher.  The vast majority of state workers I meet are people doing their best for the citizens of Maryland.

Today's issues were infrastructure, not personnel related. These challenges will improve over time with experience and better education for all concerned. Perhaps an online tutorial teaching Marylanders in advance of an upcoming MVA interaction would alleviate some of the confusion.

The best part: I'm glad I don't have to do this again for another 8 years.