Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why Are DMV People So Rude?

My son got his driver’s license this week. (Watch out, world!)

I was once again struck by how rude the people at our DPS (Texan for DMV) are. I am not the only one to wonder why: look here and here and here, for starters.

It’s almost comical. The first woman we encountered, who just had to hand my son a form, was absolutely stone-faced and clearly was trying to speak without moving her mouth, like that would be too much effort. The second, to whom my son handed a certificate from his driving school, barked, “It’s not signed!” And indeed, there was a blank line, marked “Instructor Signature.” “Oh, no, did they forget to sign it?” I asked. “How do I know?!” she said. “Did he have 10 hours of nighttime instruction?!”

My son and I looked at each other. Of course, he hadn’t been at the driving school at night. It isn’t even open at night.

Yes, we both answered.

Turns out I, the parent, was supposed to sign that he had driven at night with me (which he had), something she could have just said, the jerk.

After we caught on and she had had her little thrill, I signed it.

I have been around long enough to realize if everybody in a certain group acts a certain way, they probably have some sort of reason. Like when we arrived in Houston and wondered why everybody drove those big, piggy, gas-guzzling SUVs. (The streets flood.)

And I found this about a fascinating study. Turns out the “petty tyrant” theory we all have is correct. When someone is in a “high power” but “low status” position – like DMV clerk, they have a tendency to use that power to behave like jerks.

Explains a lot, about a lot of people.


  1. Have you seen this "The Big Bang Theory" episode where Sheldon gets his learner's permit? I love the way Octavia Spencer portrays the mind-numbing repetition of her job.