Monday, December 6, 2010

Lesson Learned - Functional Wisdom You Can Use

Damn, it's been almost 2 full weeks since any postings yet so much has happened. The move went down, and with it everything that accompanies moving: changing your address, changing all the contact information with everyone and everything: Banks, DMV, Credit Card Companies, etc..etc...Though we all know how painful it can be going through the more bureaucratic aspects of moving, I was able to find a few entertaining things while I was at it, and a couple words of advice for you guys next time you head in to any sort of "take a number" type setting where they give out numbers like H288 and A017.

After waiting at the San Mateo DMV for about an hour, I was able to get my vehicle registration changed over to my new address. While nothing particularly awesome took place in the people watching department, there were several people "smelling" experiences within the hour that piqued my sense of disgust. Not sure what these people ate throughout the day, but if they went through the new TSA scanner, they could have easily been caught for smuggling limburger cheese and wads of wet dog hair on their person.

The other 'awesome' thing I found at the DMV is below:

Now, this is a picture of what I originally thought was some tribute to America's Bad-Ass-Ness. However, I noticed later that this was actually the most ridiculously gaudy nameplate I've ever come across. I can only hope that the lady in the picture is actually the Manager that this nameplate serves to absolutely memorialize. I think the plaque at Pearl Harbor is smaller than this thing. Anyway, I'm pretty sure she felt I was taking a picture and picked up that stack of paper, since, the other 10 minutes I was standing at the counter she was simply turning in very slow circles "supervising" - much like the 3 guys that "work" for CalTrans (read: lean on shovels) while the other 2 guys actually bust their asses to get shit done.

Anyway, I'm sure she spent years dealing with jackasses like me who try to game the system - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Is it worth a shot? Absolutely.

Here's what you do:

At most of these places, they start you a line where you walk up to somebody who generates a tag for you (C288, K314, etc.) at which point you sit on your thumb for an hour and hope your foot doesn't fall asleep, since getting out of your chair and falling on the ground in front of people at the DMV would be more embarrassing than having to be at the DMV in the first place. Now, the reason they give these tags with random numbers and letters is simply so you have no idea what order people are actually being called - this is also why you see people who got there after you, go in front of you. Here's the kicker though: I learned this past week that there is a "secret button" that will generate what is known as a "Front of the Line" ticket. Seriously.

How do you get one of these? Aside from having relations with the person giving out the tickets, I've found that you can often get away with one of these Golden Tickets if you do a few things in a very specific order.

1) Go on the website and find a number for the specific bureaucracy you are dealing with: SFMTA, DMV, Social Security, etc... It really doesn't matter which one - almost all of them have the same prefix throughout the building, just make sure it's close enough to make the guy at the desk think you actually got the number from someone there.

2) When you walk up to the counter, the person is going to try and rush you. DON'T LET THEM. Speak calmly and directly. It also helps to have a bunch of papers in your hands - preferably the forms you need. Most importantly, have the number you wrote down from the website handy. Here is where it gets critical - tell the person: "I was here earlier in the day and was given this number to call to have the system updated since it wasn't previously recognizing my information. The guy 'over there' said once it was done I could come to the front and get a 'quick ticket' or something where I wouldn't have to wait so long to update my registration/change my picture/etc..."

Important: Try not to sound like you know about these "front of the line" tickets. If they get specific with who you spoke with, say it was a few hours ago, and you don't see them anymore. Mind you, these folks hear and see all sorts of shit everyday. They don't like attitude, and they sure as hell don't like people thinking they know how the system works. Worst they can do is give you a regular ticket and you wait the requisite time. If you're an ass, I'm sure they have a ticket that can make you wait even longer...

Using this strategy I was able to get my new parking area permit in less than 10 minutes instead of 40 to an hour. Unfortunately, I actually had to call the "database guy" and get my address entered into the system. This was the day before though, and I wasn't going to waste another hour sitting around stank ass people. So, I told him I was there earlier and the "guy on the end" said I could go to the front. It worked. This isn't full proof by any means, but if you follow the steps outlined the odds of you decreasing your wait time are infinite compared to just walking in and taking the number given to you. Also, wear something that makes you look important and very busy. Carry a briefcase, or throw on a suit if you've got one. Trust me. People love to act like they don't play favorites, but study after study shows they do.

Good luck out there.

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