If Web Development Met the DMV

Any U.S. citizen can describe the awful experiences which accompany the use of a DMV (or, in some relevant cases, a post office). The minutes or hours of waiting in a line, the callous cackle of laughter of a pensioned employee doing nothing in a back room, the complete apathy behind the counter, the ambient despair hanging in the air…these are the hallmarks of its routine service. However, I would still rather wait in the line of a DMV than pursue another elaborate web development project…for, at the very least, there is still a shroud of humanity left in the husk of a DMV, even if it’s barely clinging to the inside like the placental tissue of a pumpkin. I wonder, though, if we were to apply the tools and norms of web development to the DMV…it might look a little something like this:

  • Debugging: As you walk into the lobby of the DMV, you swing the door a bit too quickly, causing the hinge to be pulled out of the door’s frame. Some of the DMV employees give you paper clips and a stapler in order to repair it. In order to be a good sport, you give it a half-hearted try, and when that doesn’t work, the DMV staff understand the futility of it. Instead, they tell you to come back later; they have concluded that the whole DMV office needs to be closed indefinitely, since it will need to be rebuilt entirely.
  • Error-Handling: Later, when you approach the counter and ask for a change-of-location form, the clerk just stands there. The clerk could correct your mistake and inform you that it’s a change-of-address form, not a change-of-location form…but instead, the clerk just stands there and looks back at you.
  • Browser Compatibility: When you approach the counter about renewing your license, they inform you that the process involves interacting with several different people: a photographer, a clerk, and a test administrator. However, for each different person, you will need to change outfits, speak a different language, and rearrange the furniture in the room to his/her preference.
  • Lack of Online Help: While attempting to actually renew the license, you are defenestrated from the second floor by the test administrator (despite wearing a blue shirt, speaking Turkish, and pointing all the chairs to the southwest). When you ask other DMV attendees for their advice on how to resolve this problem, each one has a different answer, but none of them actually help you.
  • Using WordPress: Frustrated with your trips to the DMV, you finally give up and hire Toonces the Driving Cat. At first, everything works perfectly, as you only ask him to drive you to work and back home. However, when you ask him to take a different route one day, he quickly starts to become frustrated, and in a state of panic, he drives the both of you off a nearby cliff, where you both perish in a mass of twisted metal.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

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