The Department of Motor Vehicles: That soul-crushing, sigh-inducing exemplar of bureaucratic inefficiency. People hate the DMV so much they'll keep the same awful driver's license photo just to avoid going back (you know the one—that shot where your eyes are squinting and you look like a registered sex offender).
So when I lost my license recently I took the recommendation of a friend to drive the extra 15 minutes to the San Ysidro DMV (6111 Business Center Ct.). Yes, I made an appointment (this preemptive action is highly recommended no matter the DMV location), but it was the unexpected intangibles that made my visit so pleasant.
The first thing you notice is the building itself. Built in '06 and designed by Roesling Kakamura Terada Architects, it's not only nice to look at from the outside, but the inside is cavernous enough that, even when it's crowded, it never feels stuffy. I'd like to think that design fosters functionality. Things seemed to chug along at an orderly and, dare I say it, friendly pace. When I got up to the counter the woman that helped me was polite and helpful. She even noticed my license was set to expire soon anyway and encouraged me to take a renewal test so I wouldn't have to come back again in a year. A DMV employee being helpful? What madness is this?
Anyway, I passed the test and went to get a new photo. Naturally, the photo of me ended up looking like a crackhead so I begged the guy to take it again. He smiled, chuckled, and said he'd already sent it to Sacramento. I would have protested further, but I was just too taken aback that a DMV employee had actually laughed. A smiling, jocular DMV employee? I felt like I saw a yeti. I should have taken a picture of him.