A few days before my driver's license expired (and this was an "odd" renewal so I couldn't do it online) I called the local(*) Texas Department of Public Safety office and asked, simply "which days are the least busy?" and was told "Wednesday and Thursday". Armed with that information, I proceeded to the DMV at 10am this morning - a Thursday - and saw a line snaking out the door. Not a good sign, I thought. They opened at 7am - I should've come then, I thought - but that would've conflicted with my 8am dentist appointment (another joy in life).
(*)Perhaps doing my homework helped - I determined that the nearest office was [Dallas East] so I Google-Earth'd it and reckoned that I knew the intersection: Northwest/Jupiter. My plan involved not driving downtown to face The Main DMV Office (queue scary music).So, I whipped out my iPod and proceeded to listen to Yet Another Podcast. However, the line was moving. Quickly. Once inside the door, I could see the signs - in both Spanish and English - advising me not to mean against the walls. As if! It was also entertaining to see the ethnic mix: I was one of only two whiteys in a 15-person line. I soon found myself in front of the Triage Clerk (my term) and I explained that I was there for a renewal. She handed me a number and a 12-question (?) form, and waved me toward a counter. No pens were anywhere to be found, but a Latino gent sensed my plight and let me borrow his. I finished in about 60 seconds and returned his pen - he seemed surprised for two reasons: (1) I returned his pen and (2) I completed the task in less than 10 minutes.
The questions were simple - basically asking if I had any condition that would keep me from getting a renewal - it was very transparent. Once done, I sat down and waited for my number to be called. The paper slip said "WAITING TIME 5min." and it was right, more or less. So much for listening to my podcast - there wouldn't be time! My number soon flashed on The Big Board and I proceeded to the designated clerk, who asked me to (a) read 3 lines of numbers-in-a-box; (b) submit my left+right thumbprint; (c) pay the $24 renewal in cash; (d) sign my name; (e) smile for the photo; and (f) don't let the door hit you on the way out. My license will arrive in 4-6 weeks from Austin TX and meanwhile-hang-onto-this-document-it-shows-you've-renewed.
Fast and easy? Surprisingly (shockingly) YES. The hardest part was just finding the place - it was listed on the DMV's website, but I wasn't expecting a hole-in-the-wall in a strip shopping center. I guess at my next renewal - in 2012, I think - they'll have valet parking.