Letter to the editor submitted by Gerrit Argento, July 24, 2018
Yesterday, I approached the unmarked grey concrete building with foreboding. Everyone told me, “Don’t go in there, stay away from the DMV building in Norwalk. You will lose your soul in there.”
I replied, “But I must go in there. I must beg the dragon to let me use my car and boat.” “Don’t risk it,” they said, “The dragon is asleep. If you wake him up, he will get angry and throw his net over you.”
I went in. I had no choice. I entered a cavernous chamber.
I could immediately feel the deadening and arrogant breath of the dragon. Over 100 people, or what looked like people, were in the cavern. Most of them were sitting on metal chairs in trance-like attitudes. About 30 of them, like convicts in leg chains, were slowly shuffling back and forth, as if sleep walking, along alleyways marked with flimsy plastic ribbon. They were not talking to each other because they were all strangers to each other. They felt no solidarity among themselves. The dragon would not let any of the people use their cell phones to call outside for help.
Many of the meek and quiet people had been waiting for three hours to petition the dragon for the right to use their cars and boats. They clutched their petitions in their hands hoping they had filled out the boxes on the forms correctly, hoping that some new regulation had not been imposed on them while they were waiting for hours in line, hoping they would not have to go home to get another slip of paper and then return not to their place in line but to the beginning of the line.
After an hour of shuffling in line with the other mendicants, one of the dragon’s attendants gave me a ticket, which allowed me to wait in a much longer line. Now I began to feel that I was losing my soul. I began to feel abject, obedient and helpless. I felt I would do anything to please the dragon. If the dragon snapped his fingers, I would humbly crawl on my knees across the floor to the magical window which held my permits.
Now, a day later, I understand why the beaten down figures in the metal chairs that I saw when I entered the cave looked so non-human, almost like forlorn statues. I was now feeling the same way and no doubt looked like a zombie myself. I had lost all my energy. I wanted to please. I would do anything demanded of me. I had lost my sense of right and wrong. I had lost my feeling that I was a worthwhile human being, that I had rights as an American and resident of CT. All was gone except my craven supplication to the dragon for the permits so necessary to my life.
What struck me most about my experience was not DMV’s callous and humiliating treatment of the people but the peoples ‘ abject, patient and resigned acceptance of their treatment. Have we been for so long subject to arrogant, mindless and unnecessary government bureaucracy that we accept it? That we accept the crowding and waiting? That our government will commandeer us for almost a whole work day, what with document searching and preparation, driving to a DMV office and waiting and waiting and perhaps failing and having to return and waste another day.
Why can’t they be open in evening hours until 9:oopm so that people do not have to leave their jobs during the day? Why can’t they have more facilities so that we are not jammed into one over crowded building? Why must I submit my papers to four separate clerks behind four separate windows? Why can’t one clerk handle it? Why can’t they even mark their building as a DMV facility so that after driving for 45 minutes one knows when he has found the correct location? Why does it seem that so much is done for the convenience of DMV employees and so little for us? Why did DMV close the AAA affiliate office in Stamford, which gave such excellent service?
One suspects this private sector operation with its private sector jobs was closed so the jobs could be moved to government union employees and increase their dues paid to the government unions who would then have more money to pay for more politicians, lawyers and lobbyists to expand union entitlements?
Why do we have to put up with a government that fails to take the most common sense and efficient steps to provide its monopoly services to us? Why?