Age Discrimination

My birthday is coming up and I had to renew my driver’s license this year. Since Leslie got a notice saying she could renew her license online this year, I was hoping I could do the same. Turns out that anyone over 65 has to go in and renew their license. To put it politely, I was rather pissed off that I couldn’t renew online just because I was 65. It reeks of age discrimination to me, and there’s far too much of that for my taste.

I checked online yesterday and the closest office to me has been closed down, probably because of a major budget shortfall because of the recession. When I checked the next closest office, it reported an hour-and-a-half wait. Since those are usually optimistic estimations, I decided I should go another day.

That turned out to be today. Leslie told me that the best time to go was early in the morning. So I got there about ten minutes before the office opened. I was a little shocked to see a long line of old folks lined up at the door when I arrived, at least it seemed long to me. The gentleman in front of me said that he was there the day before and this was a “short” line in comparison. He left the day before when he guesstimated that his wait would actually be nearly three hours.

Standing in line, I suggested that recent budget cuts seemed to have made the lines much longer, not surprising since they’ve closed several offices as part of budget cuts, and apparently those cuts haven’t been offset enough by people renewing their license online.

I was a little surprised by others’ responses, though I probably shouldn’t have been. One gentleman was outraged that they had made cuts in state offices that provided direct service to the public, arguing that service to the public should have been their first priority (particularly service to those of us waiting outside the licensing door). I didn’t bother telling him that I thought it was more important to finance medical care for the poor and maintain realistic class size than it was to keep lines short at the license office.

A gentleman driving a Cadillac suggested cuts weren’t necessary at all, that the State was making them in places like the licensing office in order to increase support for raising taxes next year.

Luckily, the staff seemed relatively efficient, and despite long lines I barely had enough time to open my copy of Hardy’s Jude the Obscure before my number was called.