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Illinois Issues
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Publisher's Gallery: Long lines didn’t mar my experience at the driver’s services facility

Mike Morsch
WUIS/Illinois Issues

During the 2002 campaign, Kris Cohn, the Winnebago County board chairwoman and Republican candidate for secretary of state, complained that Illinois citizens are frustrated with long lines and an unresponsive bureaucracy at driver’s services facilities. 

Nothing was mentioned about long lines at the post office, the grocery store, the restrooms at Bears games in Champaign or at the offices of prosecutors who want to question anyone who ever worked for former Gov. George Ryan.

Incumbent and eventual winner, Secretary of State Jesse White, pooh-poohed Cohn’s claims, saying he had everything under control and had instituted numerous reforms in the office over the years.

As one who needed Illinois license plates and a state driver’s license, I was hoping White was right. But, just in case, I set aside an entire morning on each of two days hoping the lines would be manageable.

They were. Mostly because there weren’t any lines at all, at least at the Springfield facility I patronized. I had, though, anticipated an unresponsive bureaucracy, which I was fully prepared to gripe and moan about because what would a driver’s services facility be without people milling about griping and moaning. I certainly wanted to contribute to that process.

But on the day set aside for license plates, I was in and out in 10 minutes. I had to spend the rest of the allotted time griping and moaning about how I had canceled all the appointments I could have kept.

I did figure the driver’s license part of the equation would be more challenging, simply because, as an out-of-stater, I was required to retake the eye test and the written test. I contemplated raising the argument that as an Illinois native who spent the first 24 years of a 26-year driving career with an Illinois license, I should be covered by some grandfather clause that I could invoke to avoid the written test. 

No such luck. And I wasn’t about to cause trouble for the public servant who had absolutely nothing to do with making the rules. In fact, I would offer that each legislator, who does have something to do with making the rules, should be required to spend one day a term at a driver’s services facility listening to complaints just to give the workers a break.

The eye test was easy. The first letter on the eye chart is always a very big “E” and I had that memorized. So I stuck my face into the eye test machine and shouted “E!” before the public servant had a chance to offer verbal instructions. I thought this was funny. She was less amused.

“Please read the fourth line,” she said. “But those letters are a little smaller,” I countered, pointing out that since there wasn’t a line, we had plenty of opportunity for some tomfoolery. I failed to take into consideration that this woman could have given me the secret 1,000-question written test reserved for wise acres rather than the standard 29-question test.

I am happy to report that not only was I fortunate enough to get the 29-question test, I correctly answered 28 of the questions, which suggests to me that somebody needs to think up tougher questions.

All that remained was my formal portrait sitting, otherwise known as the driver’s license photo shoot. I’m not sure what kind of camera is used for this photo, but it has to be the It Will Make You Look Stupid and Ugly model. I’m not sure how many chins this camera added to my face, but it was more than the three I already have.

So long lines did not mar my exper-ience at the driver’s services facility. As the head honcho, Secretary of State White and his crew deserve a tip of the cap for making my experience as painless as possible.

Which wouldn’t have been the case had I been asked to take the tumbling test.

Mike Morsch can be reached at 217-206-6521 or by e-mail at morsch.michael@uis.edu


Illinois Issues,February, 2003

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