DMV: We Like It When Their Lights Shine

We've noted here before our dismay that a Marylander can go through life without ever experiencing the joy of smooth and polite motor vehicle services. In many states, especially where voters elect secretaries of state, renewing licenses or getting tags is a minor task akin to stopping off for a gallon of milk. If delays or rudeness persist, people vote the problem out of office.

Maryland offers the Chesapeake Bay and incomparable treasures. But a smooth and efficient Department of Motor Vehicles hasn't been among the offerings we've noticed in 15 years at DMV facilities in Anne Arundel, Calvert and Prince George's counties.

So when we heard about the courteous new DMV in Largo, we were, to say the least, skeptical. After all, just last month, to get a driver's license renewed, we spent two hours and 21 minutes at the DMV in Annapolis. (We were told it was a computer problem but it seemed to us like a problem of too many people on protracted breaks.) Whatever the case, it scotched a fishing outing and gave us a case of the birthday grumps.

With truck tags expiring in a few days, we decided to give the Largo office a try. Last time we were there, one woman was so unbelievably rude that we asked her: "Is it your goal each day to make things as hard on people as you possibly can?" We'll spare further details, but suffice it to say that our outburst didn't speed things along.

The clock in the truck this week said 9:41am and, just in case, we decided to take our lunch inside. We moved swiftly to one station and then to a second, where we overheard a smiling woman tell a colleague: "Let your light so shine that you don't have to preach."

We found this biblical suggestion so intriguing that we were a little slow moving to the next station, where another woman was waiting with a smile to take our $97 and hand over a set of new stickers.

"Am I done?" I asked, stunned.

"You're done, honey," she said.

The clock said 9:57: 16 minutes, including the time it took to call our insurance agent for the policy number.

We don't know quite what to make of this turnabout, but we're pleased.

If that DMV light keeps shining, we'll stop preaching.

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VolumeVI Number 34
August 27-September 2, 1998
New Bay Times

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