Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bureaucracy--You Gotta Love It!

Is There Any Intelligence Left in Government?

J.J. Ray

Recently I had to make a trip to the Alabama State Troopers office to get my drivers license renewed. The wait was only an hour, which for them was almost instantaneous. I sat down in front of a nice looking woman who directed me to the eye test machine. She tested both eyes and proclaimed I had twenty-fifteen vision in both eyes. Then the fun began. She asked where my glasses where? I explained that I had eye surgery and no longer had to wear prescription eye wear. Then I asked her about the eye test and my passing.

She explained even though my vision was better than most that I could not get a new license until I had some eyeglasses. I then explained my cataract surgery and how they fixed my eyes. The examiner listened attentively to my story and said, “Take the lenses out so I can verify that you have them in”. I was shocked. “Ma’am I just told you how they did surgery on my eyes and showed you my cards, the lenses do no come out”.

Her retort was, “If I can’t see them you can’t drive without your glasses”.

I felt like I was listening to a Yogi Berra commercial. Once again, I tried to reason with her explaining that I had passed the eye test and there was no reason to wear glasses. She was very rigid and explained if I drove without my glasses, I would be ticketed even though I no longer needed them. I had to call my son to come and drive me home.

Sounds like the end of the story but it gets worse. Arriving home, I called the State Troopers office in Montgomery. After being placed on hold for forty-five minutes this authoritative woman answered my call. Once again, I related my experience. After a brief pause where I was once again put on hold so she could check with a superior, I was told that no new license was forthcoming unless I could produce my eyeglasses and pass the eye test. Once again, I explained that I had passed the eye test without my glasses and that my vision was twenty-fifteen. That did not matter, my old license was restricted to prescription eye wear and that was that. My wife hearing this conversation suggested calling the governors office to ask where they were getting their employees. She suggested perhaps it was a foreign country where no one understood English. Coffee was in order so I sat down to decide on my next course of action. So far, I was batting zero using common sense.

Running out of options, I found the number on-line for the director of the Alabama State Troopers. After explaining my predicament, this nice woman once again put me on hold so she could check with a superior. Ten minutes later, she said that if my doctor would fill out a form or send a letter they would the issue a new license. Hallelujah, I proclaimed hanging up the phone. My wife came running into my office expecting me to have had a new spiritual awakening. Boy was she fooled. More phone calls to the doctor and a fax to Montgomery and a week later it was done. I was legal once again.

The question is simple. Is there no common sense left in Montgomery and/or intelligence? Perhaps we would be better off if the driver’s license division was outsourced to India. At least there, they do speak English, sort of.


Unfortunately, J.J.'s experience is not uncommon. We personally know of the following:

A person attempting to acquire a marker for a Revolutionary War ancestor was asked by an individual with the Lauderdale V.A. office if she knew her ancestor's Social Security number.

A person seeking a title for an inherited vehicle was asked if her relative would again drive the car. We're pretty sure the man in question planned on staying dead.

A woman working in the motor vehicle licensing division at the Florence-Lauderdale Government Building couldn't think of the name of the facility. When another customer offered the name, the clerk replied, "Yeah, what she said." The clerk then went on to tell the customer that he couldn't purchase a business license until after September 31st. We imagine he's still waiting.

We pay the salary of these state/county employees--depressing isn't it?


So firefighters are political...who knew? Many months ago, we mentioned a future blog on Lauderdale sex offender Lloyd Hayes, a former Florence Fire Marshal. We had previously mentioned Hayes in a series of articles on a man indicted and tried for rape; at that time we had many requests to do a story on Hayes. Ultimately, we decided since Hayes had been in no documented trouble since his child pornography charges, we would not do the column.

With local firefighters again in the news, especially in Killen, we've once more received requests to do a column featuring a timeline of Hayes' fall from grace. The story of child pornographer Lloyd Hayes should be published in the next few days, and apologies to those who thought we were giving him special treatment in not offering it sooner. We certainly have no intentions of glossing over any city employee who uses our tax dollars to store photos of the sexual torture of children.