Friday, October 20, 2006

Production Booster

(The above bookmark is courtesy of my youngest brother-in-law, the second one in the series.)
Most of us have dealt with over-the-counter service one time or the other. Banking transactions are perhaps the most common form for private entities while for the government sector, things like applying for a driver's license or renewing one are common reasons for making a visit to government offices.

With the advent of the Internet Age, most of these activities that used to involve personal trips have been replaced by online transactions, which is a boon to those who have access to the information superhighway.

However, for those who are still not computer literate, they still have to contend with the traffic, the long queue, and at times less than satisfactory service from the counter staff. Similarly, most services offered by government agencies, for example, renewing a driver’s license, still necessitate appearance in person for those who are non-citizens, as yet.

I’m in that boat and have spent almost half a day renewing my driver’s license last time around. So when the time for renewal came up again this time, I was prepared, both with the required set of documents, and more importantly, enough reading material to last a day.

I arrived half an hour before the appointment time of 9.50 am, and was pleasantly surprised to find that there was no queue at the outside screening counter. Perhaps it so happened that there were not many walk-ins today. From past experience, I already know that there are actually two lines: the one I just mentioned and the other one at the services counters located in an inner room out of sight from those in the first line. Usually the longer wait occurs in the inner room due to a combination of a limited number of attending officers and the need for them to scrutinize the supporting documents for completeness.

Even though it was still about 30 minutes before the appointed time, the officer waved me in to stand in the second line. A grouse that I have whenever I have to queue up for service is doing that standing up. Back where I came from, most counters have already implemented a ticketing system whereby a visitor, upon entering the lobby, would first take a number from an auto-dispenser. Then one would compare the number on the ticket with those displayed on top of the counter, thereby knowing roughly how long the wait is likely to be. Then one can either take a seat, comfortably ensconced while waiting, or even dash out to run other errands if the wait is long enough.

But here all have to stand in line, sometimes hours on end. Of course there are people who leave the line to take a seat while keeping a close watch on the progression of the line lest one is inadvertently left behind.

One reason for the difference is perhaps the line here is usually short, less than ten people at any one time (unless the line is for some concert/game tickets). Today I was sixth in the line. And the pace seemed quicker too as I could only cover about twenty or so pages of the book that I was reading.

The lady who served me was most friendly, and processed my documents efficiently even though twice she had to refer to her superior/colleague due to some peculiarities in my case involving INS documents.

Frankly, I wasn’t very sure whether I would be getting my driver’s license renewed today because of the aforementioned uncertainty. I was already thinking the worst when the lady sought advice from her superior when my circumstance was not listed in the department’s guidelines on supporting documents.

I still could not believe my good luck after I was back in my car barely after one hour in the Department’s office. My office secretary would be thinking that I was pulling her legs because I told her not to expect me back in the office until after lunch when I left the office for the appointment.

Yes, I was indeed pleasantly surprised at how smooth things went. That really put me in a jovial mood for the rest of the day. And a production booster to boot.


CY said...

I know, I thought the DMV was going to take for-friggin-ever when I went to transfer the title of *my* car! But it was so quick and painless. :D So funny how things like that can put you in a good mood so easily.

Also, why is your blog named "aPleasant Surprise"? Technically, wouldn't "apleasant" mean "unpleasant"? Or did the space bar jam up at that moment?

Say Lee said...

Another example of happiness would ensue?

As for "aPleasant Surprise(s)", I have actually taken great pain to explain the rationale for the title in my blog article with the same title. It's obvious you have missed it.

In fact, your Klang cousin thought that my blog title is very brandable!