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Waiting for Godot at the DMV

June 15, 2003|MATT MYERHOFF

California's Department of Motor Vehicles offices are synonymous with glacially slow lines. Wait-avoidance schemes include taking a sick day from work to go during less-crowded hours or joining AAA, which offers faster smog and registration processing and cushier lounge areas at many locations. But sooner or later, everybody ends up at the DMV, a true meeting place for the diversity, grit and glamour of Los Angeles. We stopped at the Hollywood DMV to ask a few Angelenos what drives them.


Donald Coates

High school senior (with DMV tester), 18

Silver Lake

First time taking test?

No, my second time. I fell asleep while driving, so I kind of totaled my car. I totaled a parked car. Because I hit some trash cans, I destroyed city property and they had to file a police report. Because it was a loss of consciousness, the DMV automatically suspends licenses. I had to get a doctor's note saying I wasn't narcoleptic.

Did you bring anything to do while you wait?

I brought some biology notes. I have a biology test tomorrow.

First thing you'll do when you get your license?

I'm going to the Coachella music festival in Indio.

Worst mistake you can make in a driving test?

You could hit a car.

Your worst driving habit?

Besides falling asleep, I speed a little.


Tanya Morozova

Student, 25

West Hollywood

Your mission at the DMV today?

I was born in Moscow. I arrived in L.A. one month ago. I'm just looking for my identification card.

Did you bring anything to do while you wait?

No, I forgot. People told me this place is boring and you have to wait.

Is it like this in Russia?

You'll never believe me, but in Russia, bureaucracy is less.

What would be the worst mistake on a driving test?

To kill a person. That's the worst.

What question would be the most confusing?

Americans use a lot of slang. I don't know the meaning.


Bo Johnson

Production company researcher, 27


Your mission at the DMV today?

I moved here about seven months ago from Dallas. I got pulled over because my brake light was out, and they told me it was time to get my California license.

Why did you move here?

To be in the industry, like everybody else.

Any theory on why the wait is so long at the DMV?

There's different letters before people's wait list numbers and I don't know why. And I want to know.

Most confusing test question?

Everyone seems to get stumped on the four-way intersection thing.

What's your worst driving habit?

I [reach] into my passenger-side floorboard to get my CDs out.

What bugs you in other drivers?

When cars are blocking the intersection, my friend started throwing wooden clothespins at them. It causes no damage but it really startles people.


Erica Hunter

Children's dance instructor, 30


Your mission at the DMV today?

I need a license renewal. No test, just an eye exam and a picture.

Did you make an appointment?

No. I'm wait list number G133, and it's now at G89.

Did you bring anything to do while you wait?

I brought a book of plays by Jean Anouilh; he's French.

First thing you'll do when you get your license?

I'm going over to the Grove.

Who shouldn't be on the road?

Some seniors are very alert and spry, like my grandmother. She drives and she's 83. But I would revoke my other granny's license.

What's your worst driving habit?

I've made U-turns in residential areas at four-way stops, using the whole intersection.

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