August 3rd, 2007


Now serving $17


Ok, so yesterday, I got my license tab renewal form in the mail. If you want to renew in person, do this. If you want to renew by mail, do this. Down in the corner, away from everything else: If you want to renew online, go to "". Really, that could all have been organized into one bullet list, people.

I go online, I click on "how to renew my vehicle license". Blah blah blah, several links to pages I don't really care about, then "See also: renew your vehicle license". Yes, that seems like the thing I really want. Not a "see also", let's make that the default, and if people need help, let them ask for it.

Click, click, Washington law now requires plates to be replaced, yours is due to be replaced. Select either a new number, or for $20, you can keep your old number.

Hm, maybe this is the year to buy a vanity plate. If I'm going through this much bother, maybe I can make it worthwhile by making my ride more personalized.

I get to a PDF form that you can fill out, with instructions that say that if you want to print it out for your records, you can. Perhaps the intended process is to fill it out on the computer, sign it, and (postal) mail it in. That's totally not clear. Seems like a web form could completely accomplish the whole process, minus the signature (I'm sure somebody could figure that bit out) without having to go through the hassle of paper or stamps. Come on, stamps? What is this, 1770?

Also, vanity plates take 8 weeks or so, and my registration expires in 4 weeks. So that's no good. Let's do the cheap thing now, and get the fun thing in the pipe. Ok, now it's asking for my driver's license number. Dig it out, and OOOPS, it's expired. Has been for almost, but not quite, 60 days. At 60 days, they charge you an extra $10 to renew.

That was all yesterday.

Today, I intended to get to the DMV at the crack of opening, 8:30, but I ended up dragging my lazy self in at a slothful 9:00. Two hours of waiting, and two minutes of actual desktime, and I'm out of there with a temporary license.

I was truly frightened by some of the other people there. The guy who faced the blue backdrop sheet and asked "do I face this way?". "No sir, face the camera." The various 60ish year old women who did not read the "this is not an entrance" or "take number here" signs.

Here's a proposal - I think it can make money, but I donate to the good of mankind. At my DMV, there were something like 8 desks. There were between 2 and 4 people behind the various desks at any point in time. It'd sure be nice if they were all staffed, wouldn't it? I'm sure the principal reason why they aren't is funding.

I introduce the "gold desk". When you come in, you have the option to bid on a place in line. You don't have to, and I think that you still benefit from this plan even if you make no bid. Some (maybe one or two of the desks from my DMV of eight desks) desks go by the policy that when they are ready to take the next customer, the person with the highest bid is taken. This could be all done discreetly, so nobody would have to know that you bid $70 and the next guy bid $15.

I don't know what a DMV bureaucrat makes in an hour, but I expect that it wouldn't take very many people bidding to fund the gold desk. If there are no bids in the system, the desk just reverts to "first come, first served".

I would have bid $20 to have cut my two hours at the DMV to one hour, and maybe $30 to cut it to half an hour. There's money on the table here.