Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thinking like the government

Drivers in Manitoba renew our licences annually and get a new picture taken every four years.

The annual renewal date arrives four months after the driver’s birthday. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s better than everyone renewing licences and government-run insurance on Feb. 28, Soviet-style, as we had to do until a few years ago.

So six weeks ago I trotted down to my friendly neighbourhood insurance office, for that is where you go to renew licence and insurance in Manitoba.

Signed the papers, confirmed the payments.

Asked whether I had to take a new picture. No, they said. You’ll get your new licence within a month. Great.

Three weeks later I received voice mail from another insurance agency, whose door I had not darkened for at least three years and which is unconnected with the one I have been dealing with. You need a new picture for your driver’s licence.

Bombarded with solicitations from around the world, I did what any rational Canadian would do. I deleted the message and forgot about it.

OK, maybe I uttered an epithet about call centres.

Six weeks after my application, no new licence. The temporary one is expiring.

Head down to friendly neighbourhood insurance office. Explain problem. Get two workers puzzling over computer.

You need to take a picture. The other agency left you a message.

Why would they leave me a message? Why didn’t you? That I would have paid attention to.


Take off glasses. Remove smile. Assume neutral expression. Take picture. Sign in three places. Receive another temporary licence.

Wait three weeks, they promise.

At least the government isn’t charging me more money.

Just my time.