A recent day began with me taking my wife’s new car to a Scottsdale dealer to have a spare tire and mounting bracket installed in the trunk. The car didn’t come with a spare tire because the manufacturer had to cut weight in order to meet federal mileage standards.
Later, my day continued with a visit to an office of the Motor Vehicle Department for the State of Arizona.
The contrast between the two experiences was stark. The experience at the dealer was pleasant; the experience at the MVD was unpleasant. The reason? Because I was seen as a profit at the dealer and a cost at the MVD.
I arrived at the dealership at 6:55 AM, five minutes before my scheduled appointment of 7:00, which is when the facility was scheduled to open. It had already opened, and the service representative was awaiting my arrival and had a loaner car waiting.
Part of the Penske conglomerate, the dealership was spotless and the employees were courteous.
Before I could drive away with the loaner car, I had to show my driver’s license and proof of insurance to a cashier. She looked at the license and said, “I’m sorry, but we can’t give you the loaner because your license has expired.”
Taken aback, I looked at the license, and sure enough, it had expired last November on my birthday. MVD had never sent a renewal notice, as the department does with the renewals of car registrations.
Someone from the dealer drove me six miles back to my house and offered to pick me up when the car was ready. Instead of accepting the offer, I decided to wait for the closest MVD office to open so that I could renew my license. I would get there by taking the public bus that stops a block from my house.
I’m gun-shy (literally) about public transit, because I had been terrorized many times when I had lived in Chicago for nine years and took the El and bus to work. Fortunately, there weren’t any weirdos or dangerous people on the bus that picked me up. And unlike public transit in Chicago, the bus was clean and the driver was friendly.
About five minutes into the trip, an elderly woman pulled the cord that notifies the driver with the sound of a bell that someone wants to get off at the next stop. No ding-dong was heard. I pulled it again for her. Once again, no ding-dong. I then told the driver that the cord wasn’t working. He responded, “Yeah, just yell ‘Ding-ding’ when you want to get off.”
I yelled “Ding-ding!” at my stop and got off with another passenger who also was going to the MVD, which was several blocks away. A sixty-something, he looked healthy and had no difficulty with walking. Along the way he told me that he has been on Social Security disability for 15 years.
Although I arrived at the MVD office before the busy time, there was already a line of about 25 people. A clerk at the first station explained that my license had expired sooner than normal because I was now at the age where I had to get it renewed every five years, and only after passing an eye test. I asked why MVD doesn’t notify people in advance. Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “I dunno.”
After filling out the required form, taking the eye test, and having my picture taken, I stood in another line to see another clerk to complete the process and pay the renewal fee. After finally reaching the counter, I asked the clerk if I could get a license that is accepted by the TSA at airport security check-ins. He said, “To get that license, you have to bring other identification papers.” I responded, “I expected that, so I brought my passport with me.” He handed me a list of requirements and said, “As this list shows, you need more than a passport.”
Mind-boggling. A birth certificate and other documents are required to get a passport, and the TSA accepts passports as proper identification at security check-in. Yet a passport isn’t sufficient to get a TSA-approved driver’s license. In addition to my passport, I needed evidence of a valid Social Security number and two other documents that show residency, such as a mortgage document or utility bill.
The list of requirements handed to me by the MVD clerk said this about Social Security numbers: “You are required by A.R.S. 28-3158(D)(5) and 28-3165(F), under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 405(c)(2)(C) and 666 (a)(13)(A), to provide your Social Security number. It will be used to verify your identity and to comply with federal and state child support laws.”
Whew, that should make you feel safer at airports, as no one in America has a phony Social Security number. And it’s reassuring to know that terrorists will be current on their child support.
After finishing at the MVD, I walked two miles to the dealer to pick up my wife’s car. Along the way, I thought about how the MVD is similar to the local Post Office, which never opens early and never increases staffing for busy times during the Christmas holidays or during the winter when tens of thousands of snowbirds move to my hometown of Scottsdale for warm weather. I wondered why socialists and other assorted leftists can’t see the sharp contrast between being treated as a profit and being treated as a cost.
Then I crossed over one of the canals that provides water to metro Phoenix. A sign at the bridge thanks two former U.S. senators for building the canal, as if they had dug the canal with their own hands or paid for it out of their own pockets. In a rational world, the sign would have thanked taxpayers for building the canal. I was tempted to throw the sign in the canal but realized that a judge wouldn’t understand my pique.
The car was ready when I arrived at the dealer and was cleaner than when I brought it in. The service representative and cashier thanked me for my business. The next day I received an emailed customer satisfaction survey from the Penske Company.
I’m still waiting for a similar survey from the MVD. Maybe it’s stuck in a line at the Post Office.