Overheard At The BMV

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

July is the month I must re-new the registration of my mini-SUV. And, while I am aware that I can re-new my plate online, I am also aware that the State of Indiana has had some security breaches amongst its many departments.

So being made paranoid, I opted to re-new the old fashioned way. Entering the BMV, I “took a ticket and took a seat.”

I realize the same government that gets their web sites compromised is the same government who wants to keep me safe and be assured that I am who I am. But listening to portions of conversation between drivers and BMV personnel made for an eye-rolling wait. I would tell you that it was humorous if it wasn’t so frustrating for motorists to comply.

The names in this column have been redacted to protect the guilty.

For instance, there was gentleman of Hispanic descent at the counter. The helpful BMV customer service rep told him, “Oh, you have a hyphen in your name on your driver’s license but your insurance card doesn’t have a hyphen. You will need to get that fixed with your insurance company before we can renew your license.”

“A hyphen?” I thought. “I hope they don’t realize the baby my momma named Curtis goes by just a four letter word: Curt.”

Then there was an excited 16-year old young man who was there for a driving test and to get his first driver’s license.

“Do you have your driver’s education completion certificate?” the yellow safety vested, clipboard carrying driving tester asked the young chap.

“Sure do,” he replied with enthusiasm. “Right here on my smart phone.”

“Can’t accept that,” said the drive test Nazi. “We have to have original signatures. You’ll have to go home and get the original certificate.”

Then the young man’s mother chimed in. “You mean the BMV has a smart phone app, I can renew my plates on line but you need to see paper documentation?” an obviously piqued momma glared.

“His driving test appointment isn’t until 1 p.m. You have time to go home and get it,” replied the drive tester obviously enjoying way too much of her authority.

Then there was the lady who must have been new to the Hoosier state. But I don’t think she would say she was shown Hoosier Hospitality.

As she sat down at the counter, I heard her say, “This is my third trip here. I hope I have all the documents you need this time.”

Apparently, from what I learned from overhearing, when you move to Indiana from another state, you have to provide multiple proofs of who you are and that you are a resident of Indiana.

While this lady provided a birth certificate, out-of state driver’s license and photo ID, social security number, and a couple of bills sent to her new Indiana address that wasn’t enough as somehow, through the mysteries of the BMV computer system, they told her she was in their system under another name.

“That was my married name, after the divorce I now use my maiden name as it is on my birth certificate you are holding,” she said obviously miffed at their invasion of her privacy.

“We’ll need to see your divorce decree where the judge approved you getting your maiden name back,” said the BMV customer service rep.

“WHAT?” this lady said at the very moment I thought it.

Unlike me, some people when they get angry talk in a lower quieter voice, but I heard something to the effect that she had been divorced for five years and in the move to Indiana it might be difficult for her to find that particular document.

“We need to see it and it can’t be a photocopy. It has to be original signed by the judge,” said the BMV rep obviously enjoying providing good customer service.

Resigned to having to dance to the BMV tune to get her driver’s license, the beaten down lady exited the building saying she would find the decree and be back because she needed the Indiana driver’s license.

I think I detected a smug nodding “We know” look from the other side of the counter as my number was called from another part of the room. I walked with trepidation towards the counter in front of the sign that proclaimed the BMV had been awarded a customer service excellence citation.

Without incident, I was able to get my plate re-newed…but the registration and sticker would be sent the old fashioned way: by US Mail.

So I guess I had a better experience that the hyphenated Hispanic, high tech teen, and long divorced damsel at the BMV. But I wonder how they completed their customer satisfaction survey?