By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Even in the best of times, no one really likes going to get their driver’s license renewed. It’s usually a slog, where you’re stuck in a waiting room surrounded by people who also don’t want to be here. Who wants to spend the precious downtime in their day waiting in line?
On Wednesday, I went on a journalistic (and personal) endeavor to find out what it is like getting a driver’s license renewed during the coronavirus pandemic.
For background: I turned 28 on March 11 (in case anyone wants to send really late birthday gifts). My driver’s license, which I got in Kansas in 2014, expired the same day. Like the responsible adult I am, I realized on my birthday that I couldn’t find my birth certificate, which I needed to get my license renewed.
After contacting the state of Kansas and paying the equivalent of a semi-nice dinner to have the darn piece of paper shipped to me, I finally got my birth certificate a week after my birthday.
On Wednesday morning, I gathered all of my documents and headed to the Wyoming Department of Transportation building in Cheyenne.
I scanned the parking lot, trying to figure out how many people were currently inside the building. I’d arrived early, just 15 minutes after the office opened, but there were about 12 cars in the lot, belonging to employees and the public. Since the Cheyenne location is limited to 10 people in the building at a time, I had a suspicious feeling that I’d be asked to wait outside.
I was quickly proven right. Within three minutes of walking into the building, I was given a license application to fill out, but I was asked to wait in my car until one of the employees called me to come back inside. Instead of walking the extra few yards to my car, I waited outside, enjoying the last few rays of sunlight I’ll likely see before I retire to my apartment until summer.
The wait thankfully wasn’t long, maybe five minutes at the most. I hadn’t even finished filling out the application.
I got back inside and was a bit surprised to see how quickly the other clients had been taken care of and ushered out of the building. I was the only person being helped. As I talked with the few staffers behind the counter, they told me how slow the days were now that people weren’t constantly in and out of the building.
The woman helping me said she’d only been working at the office for a month and that when she started, the workload was heavy and they were constantly busy. Now? Not so much.
There was a sign next to my seat, letting people know they may experience longer wait times since the department was short-staffed, but it didn’t seem that note applied to this situation.
The staff also said they’re sanitizing everything a person uses, including the seat they occupied while waiting, after they leave the building.
In total, the visit took 30 minutes from me arriving to when I walked out of the building to go home. This might have been one of the smoothest experiences I’ve ever had getting a driver’s license. I couldn’t believe it.
The moral? If you need to get something essential like this done, a pandemic may be the best time to do it.