If you need your drivers license renewed -- or have a kid getting his for the first time, God help us all -- you know what you are in for. The lines, the angry people, the smell, MY GOD THE SMELL! Ok, not all DPS offices smell bad (I'm looking at you Dacoma location!), but they all are God awful seventh circle of hell-type places. Last time I was there, I saw no fewer than 10 people run out the door screaming like that kid that freaked out over finals in Real Genius. And just like in that scene, the rest of the DPS patrons sat there nearly motionless, only gently nodding their heads understanding.
The good news -- at least if you live in or near Spring or Rosenberg -- is the Houston area now has two DPS "Mega Centers" that are equipped to accommodate up to 1,000 miserable bastards per day. They have kiosks for checking your wait time and even some new fangled technology that allows you to get a place in line from a website. Is this the future?
But there is more they can do to ease our pain. It's bad enough we have to sit lifeless in these waiting room disasters for what feels like days on end, but then we face the zombie-eyed attendants who, God bless them, appear to have had their souls drained by succubi. So, if we have to go through this mini hell on earth every few years, the least the state could do is help us out.
5. Two Words: Snack Bar
Tell me someone wouldn't leap at the opportunity to serve food to people desperately waiting for the sweet relief of death. I bet McDonald's has already suggested it. A small snack bar was added to the main jury room downtown (another place where dreams go to die), why not the drivers license place? And don't give me that "people won't be here long enough for that" line because you can't bullshit a bullshitter, sonny. Also, don't tell me about the mess that would be made. You have been to other DPS office before, haven't you?
4. A Patio
Some people like to smoke. Some just want the fresh air. If there was that aforementioned snack bar, perhaps visitors would dine al fresco. It could could be called the "lanai" or the "veranda" to make it sound like a retreat when, in reality, it's just part of the parking lot roped off with some cheap plastic chairs. Put up a few umbrellas, maybe a sandbox for the kids (or really weird adults), hey, a TIKI BAR (!) and, BOOM, just like that, island paradise. If you really want it to be cool, drop in some live music every once in a while like a singer/songwriter or a death metal band. Either would be preferable to the din of screaming children.
3. Really Good Wi-Fi
Increasingly, more and more people have smart phones, tablets and laptops with them at all times. Give them a little better access to Twitter, Facebook and the Internet with a good, FREE wi-fi connection. Maybe instead of tweeting their horror stories, they'll Facebook your praises. They might even Instagram you into online immortality and, believe you, you've never lived until you've been Instagramed into online immortality, mister.
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2. Combine Government Services
If it really is a Mega Center, let a few other government agencies get in on the action. Have you ever been to the Social Security Administration office? What about an IRS tax support center? I say put all of that crap in one place like a grocery store where the products are long confusing forms and misery. That way, sufferers can make a day of it at one location instead of bouncing from office to office to office. Use that fancy appointment setter software to let us get our license at 10, file our taxes at noon and pick up a copy of our birth certificates at 2. Done, done and DONE!
1. Non-Designated Driver Happy Hour
I'm not suggesting you get everyone hammered, but a Friday afternoon happy hour where you serve some brightly colored drinks at the tiki bar on the patio to people not getting behind the wheel and present demonstrations on why drinking and driving is really, REALLY bad. You could do the reflex test they performed on Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati that backfired because Fever just got quicker as he got drunk. Maybe show that famous drivers ed classic "Blood Runs Red on the Highway," or was that a joke from the movie Moving Violations? There are so many TV and movie-based options from which you can choose. Just pick one! But, whatever you do, you know this is a good idea because pretty much everyone forced to wait at the DPS office is thinking the same thing: God, I need a drink.