How to win against the DMV bureacracy


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I’m a grown man that freely admits to being afraid of the DMV, I have my reasons…


“Use Keywords” is great advice. I’ve worked for a couple of companies that I’ve also been a customer of later, and using the old internal vocabulary helps immensely, especially if used casually. “Oh, well, the expectation was set with me that etc etc” works well when dealing with one technology company in particular.


Which is a fairly good roadmap for most things in life.


They’re generally nice people, just frustrating to work with sometimes…


As a lawyer, I say this is good advice but – in dealing with any bureaucracy, a couple of other tips:

  • If you can avoid having someone tell you “no”, do so. Better to call back and talk to a different person than to have anyone say “no”, a “no” is often entered into the record.

  • Be extremely nice; bureaucrats get beaten up all of the time, a nice person on the end of the other line – no matter how idiotic the situation – is better. These guys usually know how idiotic the problem is, but have little agency to fix it. See if you can get that persons direct line and use it to follow up. They’re often quite happy to have a phone call worth looking forward to.

  • Pick up on their name and use it.


Reason dot com?


Pretty sure step one is to steal a bus, no?
*I know, it’s not the DMV per se, but still a gov’t transportation authority.


Some people recommend the “Kindly Brontosaurus”.

(Fine, Apatosaurus, whatever.)


Curses! You have exposed my anarchocapitalist agenda!


People who do that really annoy me, but then again I’m more reserved than most and definitely not bureaucratic in nature.


We tried the ‘killing with kindness’ tack with the IRS, who loses our business’ paperwork on average once a year, then tries to say we never submitted Form XX. It doesn’t seem to work; the only thing that does is sending everything certified mail so they can’t say they never received it. Even then, it’s a crap shoot.


Here in VA, the DMV is a breeze. Boy, was I surprised when I arrived in CA for grad school. YIKES!


My experience is that when you are treated like a cog all day long, it’s appreciated. Look, don’t layer it on with a trowel, but “Thank you, Jane” gets you a long, long way.


My key has always been to bring a book.

  • Know As Much As You Can in Advance
  • Figure Out As Much As You Can Quickly
  • Use Keywords
  • Speak Directly and Stand Your Ground
  • Follow Up With the People Who Helped You Out

Let me re-write:

  • Know lots of shit that would require you to have a fucking degree in whatever obscure bureaucratic rabbithole you just got shat into.
  • Know lots of shit that would require you to have a fucking degree in whatever obscure bureaucratic rabbithole you just got shat into.
  • Know lots of shit that would require you to have a fucking degree in whatever obscure bureaucratic rabbithole you just got shat into.
  • Be able to outlast people who are paid by the hour to ignore you.
  • Take names that you will never be able to use again because no-one in their right mind is going to give you a direct line.

Okay, got it. Problem solved.


This is part of my report “Why the war on bureaucracy is unwinnable”


I have to say, the NY DMV is something else. I’m from the west coast, and dealing with the DMV there is always a thoroughly unpleasant experience, but it’s got nothing on the DMV here in New York. In fact, I can honestly say that the level of inane, pointless bureaucracy in NY is worse than in fucking Japan , with an extra dollop of corruption on the side, and that’s really saying something. I don’t know a single person here who doesn’t feel that way, yet somehow these jackasses keep on voting for democrats and republicans. There’s got to be some serious cognitive dissonance going on.


Getting your license in Japan is nuts but renewing turned out to be surprisingly easy


(One for the Brits out there)

I was trying to get home from Glastonbury with some friends, by train. We’d had a wonderful few days of fun, probably didn’t smell too great, and were still in high spirits. Predictably, we got stuck at Birmingham New Street station, as the last train was cancelled. The local ‘customer service rep’ interrupted our dancing to explain that we couldn’t get home, and would have to try again tomorrow. You should have seen the guys face when I suddenly became composed and serious, explain our rights. A few minutes later we had three taxis to drive us the remaining 50 miles up to Nottingham. Knowing your rights is always valuable!