It wasn’t until I was in the military that I realized how far-spread this problem is. Prior to my experience here, the problem was encountered very little, just at the MVA (which my non-Maryland readers will know better as the DMV.)
Then I joined the army and learned of the joy that is impersonal public service. From the beginning all the way to the end, I’ve experienced five years of apathetic, vaguely hostile people. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. The ones whose jobs force them to come into contact with dozens, if not hundreds of people a day yet they treat each one of the patrons as if they’ve personally offended them by killing and raping, (in that order no less) the family pet.
You go to the DMV, you stand in line for so long that you don’t even remember why you went, and when you finally reach the person behind the counter, all you want is some caring and politeness. But what do you get? You get a clerk who gives you such an evil look that you start to hate yourself and you don’t know why.
“I just wanted to come here and renew my license,” you think to yourself. “But now I’m starting to question if I’ll get into heaven when I die! Why does this person hate me so much? What did I do?!”
These public servants love to act as if each person they deal with is personally responsible for giving them such a dead-end and apparently thankless job. But don’t fall for their Vulcan mind-tricks! It’s not your fault! They chose the jobs they have! They are the only people to blame for their own destiny, (wow, that sounded almost like some kind of personal philosophy or view on life, I wonder how that made it into this column.)
The only thing worse than the clerk who hates you for no visible reason is the clerk who is too apathetic to even look you in the face when they’re talking to you. It’s like they just underwent electroshock therapy or a lobotomy. They spout memorized junk at you without tone or inflection. Don’t even try to ask this person a question if you don’t understand something, because they’re too lethargic to even kick-start their brains into working. They’ll just look through you with glazed, unfocused eyes, unable to comprehend what’s just been spoken. Then they get angry because you almost made them think, so they’ll either refer you to somebody else, which will result in more life lost in one of those never-ending lines, or they’ll just screw you over on whatever you went there for in the first place.
So what can we do about these people? Not a damn thing. They don’t understand or appreciate somebody being nice to them, so it’s a wasted effort. Maybe you can give them money to grease the wheels of the system a little, but unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, you don’t carry that much cash on hand, (Ever notice how his fortune was made up mostly of change with the occasional bill thrown in? How rich can he be with all that spare change?)
The only thing that I can think of working is if you get very rich and famous before you go to the DMV. Oh, and make sure you’re extremely appealing to the opposite sex, that helps. Then you’ll not only get great, (read, decent) service, but you’ll probably get to cut your way to the front of any line. And that’s most important, because there really isn’t enough space in the DMV for everybody to use a sleeping bag.