I had to go to the Bangor DMV yesterday. I got there at 11, and the line up the side of the wall at the Airport Mall was about 10 deep in front of me. Holding true to most tales from the DMV, the line didn't move very quickly. 45 minutes had passed before I made it up to the corner, and then, as I turned the corner, I realized I had been standing in the second half of the line. There were actually closer to 25 people in line in front of me. I didn't get out of there till past 1PM. And I actually count myself lucky, because it took longer for others.

But you kind of expect that. A trip to the DMV is not known for being a "quick" errand. And as we all stood in line, chatting, I learned that some of the people waiting with me had traveled from as far away as Millinocket.

As we inched closer to actually making it into the DMV waiting area, which according to the signs up on the wall could only hold 25 people at a time, we learned from the lady working as a health screener at the door, that 3 people had called out, so they were working with a staff that was already smaller than expected.

After finally making in to the room, it was time to wait some more. But at least here we could sit. As as I sat and watched, I started to notice situations that felt as though they could have been avoided with a little bit of preparation. And these situations, each one of them, cost precious time. They held up the line. They tied up the already depleted resources of workers there. And a lot of those time-consuming situations didn't need to happen.

Let me explain.

One lady made it all the way up to the line. She got through most of her paper work, filling it out at the counter--which took some time, but whatever. The thing that got me was that when it came time to show proof of insurance, she had planned to do it from an app on her phone, but her phone died. So she had to run out of the building, and across the parking lot all the way out to her car, grab a charger, come back in and plug it in and wait for her phone to boot up. All of this, while the line outside the door grew and grew. A little preparation on this lady's part, and that 15 minute ordeal could have been avoided.

Another example was a couple who had come in to get a their real ID cards. They had traveled over an hour just to come to Bangor, and waited in line for another hour and a half before making it to the counter to be helped. When they got there, they had all of their documentation except one of the forms was supposed to be certified, and it wasn't. So they had to leave to go back home, get the form certified and then come all the way back down to Bangor to go through the same waiting game again.

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That got me thinking: There has to be an easier way to do this! And there is.

Here are a few tips to help you survive your next trip to the DMV.

Tip #1: Make Sure There's Not An Easier Way To Do What You Need To Do.

The list of things you can take care of online these days keeps growing. So the first thing I would do is check to see if there isn't an online option for you to use. In some cases you can renew your license and submit certain forms directly online, saving yourself an afternoon of waiting in line, wasting both your time and the time of others.

Check here: Link to the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Tip #2: If You Do Need To Go In, Find Out What You Need To Bring With You BEFORE You Go. 

It's a lot easier to call or click from the comfort of your home than it is to wait several hours only to be told you don't have what you need. If you're unsure of what you need to bring (proof of identity or residence, certain forms, etc)check online or call first.

Once again, the link above can answer some of those questions. And if you can't find the answer on the site, there is a number you can call to get more information.

Tip #3: Print Off And Fill Out As Many Forms As You Can In Advance

Some of the forms you may need can be found online and printed off. Others can be found in spots like your Town or City Hall, where the lines are shorter and the wait time way less than if you go to the DMV.

Tip #4: Bring Have A Drink, A Snack And Something To Do While You Wait

If you go with the understanding that you are going to wait...probably quite a bit, and plan for that, your experience and mindset will be much more of a positive one than if you get stuck thirsty, hungry and bored.

Tip #5 Plan To Wait

If you make the mistake of planning anything else on a day you have to go to the DMV, you have already shot yourself in the foot. If you go, having cleared your schedule, you will keep yourself from feeling panicked, rushed and frustrated. It will be a much more pleasant experience for all involved. In most cases, it's a rare unicorn of a day that someone makes it in and out of the DMV in less than an hour. Don't get me wrong, the workers there do their best. I have seen it first hand. But issues pop up that keep things from moving swiftly. So just have some patience, and plan ahead.

BONUS Tip: Use Your Smile

Going to the DMV kind of sucks for everyone. From the people in line waiting with you, to the workers who are doing their best under difficult circumstances, you very rarely see people pumped to be going to the DMV. If you make a conscious choice to smile and be kind to those around you and those who help you, you may just spread some joy to everyone around you while your day, making the day just a little better for everyone. And if you're pleasant, and smile, especially to those who are helping you, that may inspire them to go that extra mile to be of assistance. You might just be the only smile they encounter that day. So make it count.

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

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