I feel I should preface this post by saying that I love Brazil, and can’t imagine myself living anywhere else. Also, the event I am about to relay could possibly happen anywhere else in the world, and is more indicative of government bureaucracies than of any particular people group.
So there I was…
…in the parking lot of the the Brazilian version of the DMV (henceforth referred to as DETRAN) at 7:30 am. The DETRAN opens at 8:30, but being there at 7:30 assured me a decent position in the line that had probably been forming since before 7. I had all the necessary documents–in duplicate–and was ready to go. I explained to the man on duty what I needed to do (transfer the title of my car from one state to another), and he indicated the correct line. I fired up my iPad, opened up the Kindle app, and settled down for a wait.
Three hours later I was still waiting. My car had moved up to the first place, and I had moved to another line where I was to present my documents and get a slip that I would then take back to the guys who would examine the car and put on the new tags. At every step of the way I had informed them what I needed to do and they informed me that I was in the right line.
The delay was due–we were told–to system failure beyond the control of this local DETRAN. We waited and waited…several people in front of me left. Finally the system kicked back in again, and the line began to move. It was with great relief that, at about ten minutes to 11, I handed the man at the desk my papers.
He looked at them, and then looked up at me. “We aren’t doing state-to-state transfers right now. You’ll have to come back next week.”
The most colorful words in the English and Portuguese language were coursing through my brain, and it was by the grace of God alone that none of them found their way to my lips. In a daze I waked back to where my car was.
“Do you have the documents?” asked one of the men who had directed me to the final line.
“No,” I replied, grinding my teeth to a pulp. “It would appear that you are not doing state-to-state transfers right now.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.”
If you were to go to the DETRAN right now and look at the pavement leading out of the examination area, you might see two long black marks where someone peeled rubber on their way out. Some young kid feeling his oats behind the wheel of a souped up hot rod, perhaps. Or maybe, just maybe, they were left by a middle aged missionary in a red Fiat hatchback with a wild-eyed, crazy look on his face.
So…how was your morning?