A day at the BMV

Monday June 27, 2011 Michael, our host since we moved to Columbus, Ohio, my wife and I arrived the Bureau for Motor Vehicle, BMV office on West Broad Street at about 9.30am. We entered the imposing building as the morning and warming sun escorted us in. The cool air conditioner was just at the right roomy condition as we proceeded to the line at the reception. Three people were ahead of us, a middle aged man with a young man he was chatting with that looks like a teenager and an elderly woman that should be in her mid-sixties. Everyone has come for documentation or a license either to assist or for self.
To our right in the open hall are rolls of long seats arranged in about eight seats each divided by aisles making about six rolls that stretched towards the end of the hall. They all faced counters of officials calling and attending to customers. Set of computer cubicles separate the seating section from the end of the open hall.
“Next, please. Good morning. What can I do for you?” the female uniformed-official at the reception desk attended to us. My wife and I came for our temporary driver’s license which will also serve as our identification cards for subsequent engagements. We were referred to counter 7 after being given our numbers on the seating-line facing the many counters.
Over 60 people were seated in the hall waiting for their turns. Many more continued to come in, some like in a human convoy of six to seven people who have probably just arrived Columbus and need to have identification documents. Some conclude their business on a counter while some are referred to another counter and yet another counter. But business was always brisk as the officials seemed trained to attend to such a large crowd as brief as possible yet with required results. Virtually all the officials have eye-test machines on their desk and some of the customers are asked to look into them to read the letters that they see.

“Number 377, counter 7.” The three of us got up and marched to the counter. “Let me have your resident permit and social security cards, please.” We handed over our passports and the Social Security Number cards to her. She gave us some forms to sign. Because we were there for the temporary driver’s license we had to do the eye-test before taking a written test. She asked if we were prepared for the test and we responded in the affirmative. My wife went first for the eye-test and she read everything showed to her perfectly well. She was directed to computer number 13 to write her test. The computer cubicles separating the seating section from the end of the open hall to the right were for the test. Every potential driver in Ohio State is required to sit for and pass the test. There are 30 questions and 75% is the pass limit and anything lower leads to a repeat of the test at another day.
My wife and I had read the BMV booklet in preparation for the test since we were given by a friend about 18days before. I have been driving in Lagos, Nigeria for almost 20years yet I have to take the test which we don’t do in Lagos but my wife does not drive and so will have to learn how to drive the ‘Columbus way’.
My wife waited for me to also have my eye-test done and get my computer test assigned. The official asked me if I drive with my glasses on and I do. She asked me to look into the eye-test machine with my glasses on to read the letters right from the top to bottom. I was able to read the first line very well and manage the second line fairly well and could not read the rest of the remaining six or more lines left. She asked if that was how far I could read and that was it. Even when she asked me to try again I could barely go into line three. The glasses were obtained over three years and I have not gone for another test. The lady filled a form, gave it to me and requested that I get new glasses and then come for the eye-test again before I can sit for the driver’s written test. ‘Wow!’ What a way of discovering how weak one’s eyes could be.’ It was surprising but better discovering it and fixing it.
My wife went to Computer 13 and spent less than 15minutes. She passed the test and reported to another counter where the test is processed and other procedures for obtaining a temporary driver’s license are done. The officer in charge called her name, gave the card to her to inspect for any error and since there was none, she was free to go. I got a State Identify card and left for home to be back when my glasses are ready.