Monday, December 03, 2007

dmv debacle

I'm taking most of the week off because of the christmas show, so today I decided to get my car inspected and registered in D.C. Heck, I've only lived here six months, don't want to rush things. I'd heard the horror stories of the D.C. DMV, so I was prepared with snacks and magazines and patience.

10:20 I get in line. Actually one of three parallel lines. I read the New Yorker until it makes me sleepy, then the Washington Post magazine, which includes a particularly bad Date Lab. Find my Maryland registration stuck to something in the glove compartment - whew.

10:55 Reach the front of that line and join the line for old cars, which have to do the treadmill test. Sit there for half an hour, gradually realizing that I could be here all day. Eat some nuts. Pose for a few self-portraits.

11:40 Move my car into the inspection building. Honk the horn, flash the lights, turn the wheel to the right and left, demonstrate that it is a functioning vehicle, and go inside to wait. I watch through the window, and at about...
11:50 car is on the treadmill and ready to go, when I notice that the car in front of it is no longer a little white car (as in picture above) but a large red SUV. Witness much discussion and pointing at my car.
11:53 My car gets backed up off the treadmill and the large red SUV has *its* emission test.

12:05 My car is back on the treadmill. Awright! I'll be out of here in ten minutes!
12:15 My car is pulled up to the end! Oh wait. They just drove it into the street. Oh. Now it's in another lane. I go out and this guy explains to me that somehow one of the inspectors pushed a button that meant my car got taken out of the computer system entirely, so my inspection didn't count. Oh, and by the way, it wouldn't have passed anyway because of my window tinting. And I said, ok, how do I get it off? And he says you use a razor blade, and walks away. And I'm like, well, great, because I don't have a razor blade on me. Then he comes back with two razor blades and we both get to work.

12:40 He finishes scraping. (He found a proper scraping tool - I was totally hopeless with the razor blade. He ended up doing almost the whole thing. He is my new favorite DMV guy. He broke two or three blades on my window.)
12:45 They test my car again.
12:55 My car FAILS. I need a new gas cap. Two and a half hours, and I'm not done yet.

So I'll be repeating this whole ordeal later in the week. Maybe that time I'll bring my real camera.


David J said...

When I moved to Oregon with my crappy old Saturn, I failed SIX times before someone told me how to beat it: you need to get on the freeway and drive for at least 20 miles at top freeway speed, then immediately get to the DMV. That does something or other to the catalytic converter, and so by the time you get to the smog station, your car is burning cleaner than if you get there via surface streets.

towwas said...

Yikes. That's a lot of fails! Actually, my emissions were fine - it was just the seal on the gas cap that failed.

erin*carly said...

at least you didn't get towed! when i went to get my Virginia license last year, i went to the DMV in Arlington. there was NO parking, so i found a spot in the strip mall in front of it. i got out, walked across the lot to the DMV, and then realized that the line now wrapped around the building. who knows what it looked like inside, so i turned around and went back to my car. not even five minutes passed - and my car was GONE! the sign that said no parking for DMV was covered by a tree, and i didn't see it until there wasn't a car in the spot. i shared a cab with another unsuspecting victim to the impound lot, near Ballston Mall, where they proceeded to charge me $100 to get my car back.

not a happy camper that day.

my return trip was at 4:45 - they closed at 5pm . . . with 'closing' meaning they just close the door. they finished every transaction for every customer that was left in the building, maybe 20 of us or so? it took me less than 20 minutes to get my new license.

moral of the story?

the DMV SUCKS, and watch where you park. arlington tow trucks are ruthless!

Coloradan said...

You have my sympathy. K is currently debating whether to park in our parking space off the alleyway (appealing in the abstract, but a pain in practice) or register so she can park on the street. I'll show her this post...

Also, glad to know I'm not the only person who follows Date Lab. What is the appeal? Maybe schadenfreude that I'm not going on these very public, usually awkward dates myself?

J.Bro said...

I wonder how many tons of CO2 you emitted in order to fail your emissions test. A bunch, I bet.

towwas said...

Oh my god, J.Bro. That damn car was running for about an hour and ten minutes, because of course I was idling it while I waited so it would be ready for the test. And then when they finally did the test that counted, my car had been sitting there for half an hour with the engine off while we scraped at tinting.