| January 9, 2013

Chick-Fil-A or the DPS: Where would you rather go over your lunch hour

More than three months after my wedding, I find myself in the dreaded line at the Department of Public Safety (a.k.a. the DMV). It's before 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning in January and about 18 people are already assembled outside the unopened door of the office. Even though this winter has been unseasonably warm, it's more than a little chilly. In their black peeptoe heels, my toes are turning purple. "Never mind," I say to myself. "If I want to legally change my name, I have to do this."

For the past few weeks, I've repeated that sentence like a mantra as I've trekked to and fro -- from the Social Security office to the Post Office, from the Post Office to the Department of Public Safety -- to officially become "Tina Korbe Dzurisin."

As a part of my pre-New Year's resolutions (I made them in early December), I've committed myself to finally complete the name-change process. I've intentionally procrastinated this part of wedding-related to-dos (most of which I enjoy) because, to put it mildly, I'm not a fan of inefficiency -- and every experience I've ever had waiting in the TSA line at the airport has taught me not to expect particularly streamlined treatment at the offices of government agencies.

For the most part, I've been pleasantly surprised. My in-person interview at the Social Security office took just five minutes -- or 20 from the minute I walked in the door of the office until the minute I walked out. I had to take my shoes off and stand barefooted on the sticky Social Security office floor for a few seconds before I walked through a metal detector (note to self: wear socks!), and I also had to remove my 3.5-oz. can of hairspray from my purse and put it outside the door of the building -- but those were minor inconveniences. The man who conducted my interview was very congenial -- and my new Social Security card came in the mail within a week.

At the Post Office, my experience was much the same. The line to take a passport-sized photo was long, but the employees were courteous. A 20-minute errand, from start to finish.

Even the DPS was not so disastrous as I was expecting. I first attempted to update my driver's license on a Friday afternoon -- the very worst time to go, but the first time I had available. The wait -- according to an employee who just happened to walk by -- was three hours. "Come at 8 a.m. Monday," she said. "The line won't be as long then."

So it is that I find myself shivering outside the DPS this particular day. Inside the building, an employee -- some kind of security guard, it seems -- repeatedly opens the door to let in other employees, but not even at 7:59 a.m. will he let the rest of us set foot inside. (We know because the man at the front of the line stepped forward a minute too soon and was shooed back).

At 8:00 a.m., the doors open and most of the line presses forward to the receptionist's desk. I know where I'm headed, so I line up immediately before the driver's license renewal desk. The lady behind the desk tells me the system is still warming up. In a few minutes, she's ready for me. It takes about 10 minutes -- maybe more, maybe fewer -- for her to ask a handful of questions, administer a brief eye exam and snap my picture.

"The cashier will call your name when she's ready for you," the employee tells me. I wait another 10 minutes for the cashier to take my money. By 8:30, I'm in my car and driving (a little late!) to the OCPA offices.

All in all, not bad -- but no Chick-fil-A, either. The last time I joined a long queue of cars at a fast-food restaurant, an employee came out of the building to write down my order and take my money before I even reached the takeout window. I drove in and out of the parking lot in seven minutes flat -- and complained about how long it took.

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