Today was one of many future, crazy, hectic days.
I had to take Louie to get her drivers license. Little did we know what an ordeal this would be.
Here in Texas, for a person receiving their license for the first time, they are required to take a driving test. That’s probably pretty standard in most states.
Here, you are now required to make an appointment. The days of showing up and testing are long gone.
Well, tomorrow I have to take her to her school to get her laptop, schedule, and parking permit. Obviously, in order to get a permit, she has to have a current license.
I get online to schedule an appointment and discover that no appointments are available in the entire Houston area until mid October.
Her testing then would mean no permit, missing a day of school, me or Jenny missing a day of work and her having to get another verification of enrollment. (in order to get or keep a license, they have to be enrolled in school until their 18th birthday)
When I say none, I mean NONE. I checked all of Houston, Sugarland, Missouri City, Conroe, Humble, Huntsville, Hempstead, even College Station.
Why so booked? A rush for students to get the DL? You’d think so. But no. As I discovered today, it’s because the Houston district of the TxDOT (the governing body of the TxDPS) will not staff or update their offices.
How did I discover this info? I asked. I called the main branch of the DPS in Austin, TX. They had an appointment available for today. Actually, they had 22 available for today.
So, at 10:00 am, Louie and I made the 2 hour trek to “A Town”
When we got there, we were met by a kiosk. The screen prompted you to touch the various buttons that resulted in you being checked in accordingly.
I figured that since my license is due for renewal next month, I might as well kill two birds with one stone.
We got out tickets, with our numbers (I was given the one document I needed to fill out without having to search through endless forms) and sat down in the air conditioned comfort of a building that would easily accommodate 100 people.
We checked in at 1:38 pm. There were at least 59 people ahead of us. That meant a long and boring wait, right? Nope, by 1:50 pm Louie and I were both standing at a clerk, having our photos taken and paying our pound of flesh.
Next, I had to take Louie and the car to the “drive lane” to wait for an instructor to meet us, inspect the vehicle, check the insurance, and take her for her drive.
When we pulled in line, there were 9 cars ahead of us. Wow! Here’s where we’d have to wait, right?
By 2:15pm, Louie was sitting at the front of the line and the instructor was climbing in.
By 2:45, she was done and we were finalizing all her paperwork. By 3:00 pm, we were on our way back to Houston, both with new drivers licenses.
For some folks, 1 1/2 hours may seem like an eternity. But considering that we stood outside, in the rain for 3 hours, just to get to the door where we were then given the paperwork to fill out and then directed to wait another 2 hours in a building that could only “legally” hold 30, when we got her permit, I’m impressed.
I talked to the clerk and she explained the whole “Houston District” philosophy to me. Today was Tuesday. And my daughter was the 8th student to be tested that drove up from this area.
They had 16 clerks. A far cry from the 3 at the ofc here. They had an automated system. Not a woman with a clipboard flipping through various worksheets. They have an information desk. Not a security guard telling you to get to the back of the line and wait your turn.
It was fast, efficient and they were very friendly.
It went so smoothly, I actually felt like we were doing something wrong. So I went to the information desk and asked, “is this all we need to do?”
“yes ma’am. The screen will flash your number and it will be announced over the speaker”
If a system is in place. And a good system, at that, why on earth wouldn’t every office use it?
Oh, that’s right. Because we don’t have any money.
Well, let me tell you this. For my daughter to go to Austin, it only cost her $11 and me only $25. If we’d done it here, it would have been $16 and $36.
That may not seem like a lot, but consider the 9 of us that were there in these two days.
If you come up with an average of $8 per person. Multiply that by 20 days in a month and figure in only 2 offices (we have 7) that’s almost $1500 a month the Houston District looses due to outdated system management. A penny saved, my ass!
Well, by 5:00pm, we got back to town. I dropped Louie off at choir rehearsal, paid a few bills, put gas in Jenny’s van, went to the bank, picked Louie back up, came home and noticed it was after 9:00.
This is just a small glimpse of what life is going to be like in a month.
Jenny will be back at school, I’ll be working up in Hays county building a new bridge system, kids will be in school, Louie will be raising her pigs and working (she got a job at the same supermarket as Huey) and this lazy life we’ve been living for several months will be a memory.
Welcome back to the real world!!