Everything should be made a simple as possible, but not one bit simpler. Albert Einstein
I recently received my new driver’s license in the mail. Of course, I don’t like my photo. But after all these years of new driver’s licenses, I can ignore the unflattering portrait and remain grateful that I still can drive.
Because of my age, I had to appear in person at the Georgia Driver’s License Center in Brunswick to complete an in-person vision screening. I appreciate the fact that those younger than 64 can apply on line and receive their renewal license without leaving home. I’m certain, these days, many take advantage of this easy way to renew.
Of course, beginning drivers and those new to the state still must present their documentation at a center. Those qualifying for commercial licenses also must appear in person. So, there are still numerous people showing up at centers for driver permits. There was one young man waiting to take his road test. His mom had moved their vehicle to a specified spot for him eventually to drive with an examiner. After I left, I wondered how long he would have to wait. Also, those applying for commercial licenses would have to drive one of the big rigs parked outside.
However, the state, with the introduction of on-line services, has cut employment at the centers dramatically. In addition to being able to secure a license from a home, the state has also installed several computers at the center for applicants to fill out their forms. I was third in line and it took at least an hour to complete my request.
I filled out the form quickly and was called to the counter in a timely fashion. However, the gentleman helping me was also advising two other employees and trying to help the three ahead of me complete more forms. In addition, he answered the questions from the two clerks directing people to the right stations.
At one point in our exchange, he said, “Please move over here.” I gathered my papers and started to move to the next station. He laughed and reached out. “No, not you, ma’am. Him,” he said, pointing to the man behind me.
Then he answered a question from the clerk to his right. Next, the clerk, on the left, now assisting “him” asked a question.
This clerk, evidently the one with the most seniority, continued to answer questions from those around him, as he asked me to read the eye chart, then to look at the camera as he snapped my photo.
When he finally handed me my temporary license and my canceled photo license, he thanked me for my patience.
Not once did he seem flustered by the multitasking, but it was the first hour of the day. If he faced such mass confusion all day long, he had to be exhausted when he left at 6 p.m. The center was constructed with ten stations to assist customers. Only four were in operation. But, there were plenty of chairs in the room for people to sit while they waited. During my hour’s stay, other drivers had almost filled the room to capacity.
What about those drivers whose patience is tested while they experience long waits?
I have frequently questioned our communal impatience whetted by fast food, fast communication, fast lanes for traffic. We want what we want and we want it now. But there does come a point when unnecessary delays become senseless and waste good time.
I certainly appreciate any attempt by government to cut costs. However, there are times when these cuts can be too costly. There are times when we need real people helping real people. The Internet has not eliminated that need.
I accept the fact that people can make mistakes. I’ve made my share. But computers, especially auto check, makes mistakes, too. And there are times when people are far more efficient than any computer. Computers should be used to make one’s job easier, not more difficult.
I must agree with astronomer Cliff Stoll, “No computer network with pretty graphics can ever replace the people that make our society work.”