The DMV, the Passport dept, and the IRS.

DMV
On Monday I decided to go to the DMV to order new plates for my car (same CADEAU I've had since I was 18 years old). I know it can take a long time but I had some reading to do and I could do that there, so I took the leap.

The Oakland Department of Motor Vehicles has always been a huge melting pot of people. And this day was no exception. Folks were reading up for their driver's license written test, and those behind the counter were going as fast as they could.

One customer said the new immigration ruling had a huge affect...people can't be arrested for driving a car, even though they don't 'officially' live here. Ah ha! That's the new/best deal of the year!

It was strangely calming not be be bothered about this wait. The customers seemed very nice and only one baby was crying at a time. Slowly the chairs became empty. Very slowly.

I know the public can get appointments, but when I was talking with folks around me, they were scheduling out through the second week of Feb! Uh, that would not work for me. One guy had been there 4 hours already, since 8am! Another had been there two hours and was still counting!

I got in and out in about 3+ hours. And I was glad I brought my reading stuff.

The disappointment was that I could NOT find a parking space ANYWHERE! After circling around for 30 minutes, I decided to park almost three blocks away. Next time I'll be hanging my bike on the back of the car...and riding it into the DMV.

PASSPORT dept.
There are few things that bug me as much as when the US Government provides a service and then they can't deliver. I started filling out my almost-expired passport form about three weeks ago. They provide a online site that you can fill out, then print out, then sign your name, and send it in. Uh, not so much this time. Why do I always think it's my fault? So I did it three more times with the same result...as in nothing.

I got busy. I looked at my passport daily. Today every thing worked just fine. One of the things I like about this system (when it works) is that I don't have to use my own messy, sloppy, handwriting. Really, I can barely read my own writing when I'm taking notes while listening to my clients! And while I do use an iPad, I think it's rude to try to listen and type at the same time. Alright...I admit it. I just can't do it.

IRS
This is the time of year I issue 1099's to folks. I went into Office Depot and looked at what they had for making the system more automated. I actually don't even know what a 1099 is..but it needs to be done.

Ah ha! I could buy a card and the simple instructions say..."Fill out the forms online, and then we mail them and email them to the people that need them, once you put the code on the card into the computer." Well, that sounds easy enough. Well, it wasn't.

When I had some doubts I used the 'chat' system. It took one full day for them to come up with a stupid answer to the stupid question I wrote. That went on for 3 days. Then when I looked again for a phone number on the back of the card...I found one! Warning...it could take up to 45 minutes of holding time..while the two automated messages continued and continued. I held for 45 minutes.

But I won! I got a hold of the lady! I wanted to make myself real to her so I asked her questions about the job, where she worked, while we were both waiting on something to happen. Then she said she just wanted to fix her headset because it wasn't receiving properly...and I yelled out NO! And there is was. Click. A dead phone line. OH NO!

But this gal had showed me some stuff. For the first time I could move around the website, without losing any info I had put in. I do not know, and will not ask, why they had me fill out an excel spreadsheet that appeared to do nothing. That is when I wised up to the 'chat ' gig.

It took me two nights to get this done. But it's done! And 'the automated system' confirmed that the emails have been delivered. But I had a plan B. Last year I ordered the forms for the 2014 1099s. If necessary, I could hand write every copy of every form (I think there are 5 copies for each form and I had 8 individual forms. But then I'd be facing the same issue...nobody would be able to read my handwriting.

And, when 'they 'asked me online about how their system worked today, I said the chat sucked. And since online is the direction it will be going...they need to talk to regular people like me (alright, I'm not regular, I'm dumb). But they need to know how it works..and then figure out the instructions that fit for me (us).

May your new year be more productive than mine.

Live richly, marilyn

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