Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tai Chi car inspection and DC services: would that they were all online

I have to get my car inspected by Saturday.

Every night starting last week I've thought, "I'll get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow and get it done." And now I really really have to, either tomorrow or Friday - not Saturday. Because Saturday is a Big Day. The day The Parents - Nick's and mine - meet.

So Thursday or Friday. I can't decide which is likely to be better.

It's something I've been postponing because it's so incredibly painful. You get there at 5:30 am and there's already a long line to wait through before it opens at 6 am. People line up way before it opens probably because they only want to be three hours late for work instead of five.

Because they move so slowly - honest to god like Tai Chi car inspectors - it takes forever.

I remember this from two years ago. I remember thinking, honestly, people, doesn't it hurt to move that slowly? And you could get more done if you were using both your hands. Instead of only one because the other is glued to your phone. Which is stuck to your ear.

I am a person who talks and moves quickly, who gets frustrated when walking behind people who amble. I might not be the most dexterous person on the planet, but whatever I'm up to, even if it's tripping, I'm moving fast.

But in circumstances like these, you are forced to just wait. And wait. I remember sitting there with my book, looking up occasionally, all "Breathe, Lisa, breathe." And then I'd look up again, see that nothing had changed in the last 15 minutes, and mutter, "Ow! Ow! Ow!"

The shocking thing I've discovered about DC, a city with appalling government services and DMV offices that are so aggravating that you'd rather chew off your own toenails than have to go to them, is this. Online services are amazing.

Seriously. If you can do anything ahead of time and online, do it.

I needed a replacement driver's license, and I filed for one online. And got it within a week. My online registration renewal? Took maybe three days.

If only I could upload digital pictures of my car and send them some of my emissions virtually. And then print out that little orange sticker. That would rock.


  1. You know, I went there some August morning last year to get my inspection done. I'd heard all the stories and decided to get there before 6. Of course I was running late, and didn't get there till 6:30... but I managed to get out of there by 7:30. It wasn't bad at all. Except for the getting up at an ungodly hour part. That part sucked.

    Now going in to the DMV... ugh. Don't get me started on that.

  2. Why are government agencies the worst places ever? It's like to get a job there you have to compete for who has the most miserable life and the worst attitude and the worst interaction with people. On the other hand, when you do happen to get a decent, half polite person, it really does make your day b/c it's so unexpected. Good luck!

  3. 1) Go tomorrow; Fridays are worse than Thursdays. The good news is that it's not the end of the month - that is pure hell on earth.

    2) Make sure your trunk is empty - the first time I went there, I had just moved, and had a 13" TV in my trunk. Somehow this unbalanced my car, and I failed the brake inspection (which I had just passed in another state two weeks before).

    3) After you get your car inspected, if you pass, be sure to go back inside, wait at the little window, and get the stamp - it's usually fine without it, but sometimes the paperwork doesn't get shuffled properly, and then you're SOL when you go down to the DMV to get your parking pass.

    4) If it's all just too much to deal with, I think there's a service that will do it for you (the attorneys at my old firm would hire someone, for something like $90, to do it for them). Googling turned up nothing, but the phone book might help.

    5) Directions and tips:

  4. I suggest you do a live blog in order to pass the time. I'm sure it would be RIVETING.

  5. "I might not be the most dexterous person on the planet, but whatever I'm up to, even if it's tripping, I'm moving fast."

    You make me laugh Lisa :) We have parents in town this weekend too - have fun!

  6. This morning I had to get a new tire. Tomorrow morning I'm finally getting my car window replaced. I believe that the tai chi workers in DC are so slow because they're constantly traveling back and forth to Cali to do tai chi style repairs and inspections on MY car.


    The kicker is that not only is the process So Slow, it's also always So Expensive.

  7. I live in a state that seems unique in the world. We have to have a Roadworthy Inspection done once, when we buy the car. After that, it stays roadworthy for as long as you own it (assuming you pay the registration, and the Police don't pull you over for things obviously hanging off it...)

    Just boastin'

  8. It's actually really fast if you go to get inspected in the middle of the afternoon during the week. The last time I went, at like 2 pm on a Wednesday, there was no line AT ALL.

    Of course, most people can't go in the middle of the afternoon.

  9. Yesterday, I realized that my driver's license had expired the day before. Usually, I dread the DMV, especially in where I lived in NM. But I'm finding that UT has far better DMVs than anywhere else.

    And we just have the safety and emissions done at the Jiffy Lube down the street.

    Hope the parent meeting goes far better than the DMV.


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