Sweating It Out at the MVD

I am sitting in the Motor Vehicles Division and hoping for good luck this time. Normally I renew my car’s registration online but this time I got a message that more than one vehicle has my plate number. Interesting since I’ve had this license plate since 2006 when we moved to Taos.

My first experience here wasn’t a good one. I was still paying off a car. It was registered in one state. The finance company was in another. The MVD had to see the title. My luck the title arrived the day someone torched the place. Really. Anybody who did business there couldn’t have been surprised. The people behind the counter were a surly lot who appeared to delight in telling people their paperwork was incomplete — even if they called ahead to find out what was needed. I heard numerous horror stories. Surviving the MVD was a rite of passage for newcomers.

After the title went up in flames I had to start over. I asked the finance company to send the title to my house. Business went smoothly at the office.

Things have gotten better at the MVD. I got my drivers license renewed easily and decided to go for an eight-year license. I do registration renewals on the website. When I called the MVD office about my problem, I was told, “Oh, you will have to come in.”


I got my number 89 and sat with the others while people renewed their drivers licenses. The office was full. I wisely brought something to read. One new arrival asked how long it would take. Five minutes? she asked. I told her not to count on it. She left. 

The man with muddy pants who had 88 didn’t get a license because he didn’t have a legit paper that showed his physical address. The clerk was insistent but polite. He was wise not to argue.

My turn. Yes, her computer turned up the error. I paid the fee and after an assurance that it wouldn’t happen again, I was on my way. My stay at the MVD took an hour but it passed rather quickly.

I thanked my lucky stars.


2 thoughts on “Sweating It Out at the MVD

  1. I will probably pay for this but….

    I have rarely been treated so poorly as I have over the years at the Taos MVD. I often wonder if they actually go to a training to learn how to be so insolent, surly and rude…because…how can a human being actually act that way?

    What I’ve learned is that there is a little MVD office in the village of Questa staffed by kind, gentle and helpful people who are happy to strike up a conversation and treat you like a human being.

    Be sure to call ahead to the Questa office because they hours are shifty but I strongly urge Taos people to go there for all their MVD needs.

    Its nice to be treated like a human being.

  2. I remember my first year in Taos at the MVD, too Joan. And the storyteller in me insists that I share my own little twist and turn cause it’s a corker and nearly brought me to my knees.

    I was sent home four times for more or less the same information – all related to the physical address conundrum. It all could have been handled on the second round if I had been advised properly the first time but it soon became obvious that I wasn’t the one in charge. After my third attempt with all paperwork finally complete, I was informed that it was now 4:05 pm and too late for the person in charge to go out to the parking lot and look at my plates. “You will have to come back tomorrow!” she said.

    Looking up at the clock, I bit my tongue and in a pleading for mercy tone of voice I repeated her words, “tomorrow???”

    ‘Yes, tomorrow,” she said quite firmly. I turned abruptly and left.

    By the next day, my emotional dust had settled. I had given the entire experience great thought and a deep personal inquiry. ‘What is the higher road?” I asked myself. Someone had told me the night before about the road to Questa but I wanted to believe the answer was in the obvious problem, not seek the road to least resistance.

    When I returned the next day, I insisted on speaking to the supervisor who had sent me home the day before. With confidence and clarity I walked up to the counter knowing I had been liberated in view of the much bigger picture.

    “It must be awful for all of you to deal with this physical address rule,” I began. “I know for myself, I was at my wits end yesterday. I can only imagine how you must feel having to deal with it daily.”

    I watched as she sucked in the shock from my words. Moisture truly welled in her now transformed warm, lovely dark brown eyes. “Oh, thank you….thank you so much for saying that to us. It’s just awful to deal with the physical address rule and to get people to understand what they need and why we have to do it. In fact, we don’t even try to explain anymore. It is just awful.”

    I felt in awe of the exchange and now with my own guard down, I assured her, “You’re so welcome. But, I must admit, sending me home last night after three attempts yesterday to get it all completed – just seemed so unnecessary.”

    “Well, the truth is” she said. “We could have handled it yesterday but we could see that you were very upset. It just seemed best to send you home to calm down overnight and then come back today.”

    My jaw dropped. Our eyes locked and I made another Herculean grope at a civilized quick exit. The next year, having been properly educated, I went back with all my “stuff.” It went smoothly. I was very grateful, but oh my gosh the price we must pay for peace. I choose to believe it’s worth it.

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