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Dreading some tasks is often worse than the task itself

Hats off to the DPS Mega Center in Webster

By Ernie Williamson / Special to The Bulletin

Some routine tasks I just dread.

And the past month has been a perfect storm of dread.

First, the dentist. Then, the tax man. Next, the dermatologist. Finally, the automotive gauntlet of vehicle inspection, registration and the dreaded trip to the DPS office to renew my license.

I realize these tasks are usually just nuisances, not major problems. Nevertheless, I fret about them. It’s probably because they seem to take more time than necessary, and there invariably is an expensive surprise or two.

Turns out I had little to worry about.

The dentist didn’t take any teeth, Uncle Sam took no additional money, the dermatologist took only a little skin, and my van passed inspection. (The van needed a new transmission gasket, but seemingly nobody leaves inspection stations unscathed.)
Procrastinator that I am, I had put off going to the DPS office to get my renewal until last. It was the task I dreaded the most.
Past experiences told me it would be a wasted day filled with grumpy people tired of waiting in lines and grumpy DPS employees tired of dealing with the grumpy people. Horror stories on social media indicated not much had changed.
Adding to my anxiety was the fact that, despite apparently meeting the qualifications listed online, I was denied a chance to renew my license online or by phone.

Also, it was the first time since needing a wheelchair and a van for the disabled that I would be renewing my license. I feared the worst.

Boy, was I surprised.

Thanks to a new DPS Mega Center in Webster and a fairly new program that lets you make an appointment there in advance, I was in and out of the DPS office in less than half an hour.

I know the Mega Center and its Get in Line, Online program have been publicized before, but judging from my experience there, not many people are taking advantage of it. There was a huge room filled with people. I am not sure what they were all doing, but there were only 4 of us in the designated appointment area.

Getting an appointment through the Get in Line, Online program is easy. I went online from my house in Pearland at 9:20 on a Tuesday morning. I was offered an appointment at 10:51 am and asked to arrive 10 minutes early. I took it, although I was given the option of getting a later appointment.

I arrived at the Mega Center a little after 10 a.m. and entered my phone number into a computer screen at a kiosk, got a code number and proceeded to the area designated for appointments.

My number was called 30 minutes ahead of schedule. I gave the friendly DPS clerk an application I had filled out at home, passed the eye test, paid my $25 fee and was home a little after 11 a.m.

Can you believe it? A new state program that actually works!

Caution sign No. 1: Don’t panic and go home when you see the congested parking lot. It can be intimidating because it looks like a crowded Wal-Mart lot. However, the 21,000-square-foot center is spacious and can hold up to 42 customer stations.
Caution sign No. 2: From other parts of Brazoria County, it may not save time to drive to the Mega Center in Webster (the DPS calls it the southeast center). The DPS website lists no sites in the county offering the appointment program. Hopefully, that will change.

Anyway, when these pain-in-the neck tasks come around again, I am going to try to remember Mark Twain’s sayings about worrying:

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened,” he said. Or, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”

Then again, Mark Twain never owned a car.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com)