Courthouse Fun, Part 2

Two weeks ago I endlessly babbled about my attempt to purchase license plates for my family’s vehicles. In the ensuing days, a number of people whined that my complaints were either exaggerated or were my own fault for waiting until the last minute to purchase them.
Today we’ll talk about my return to the courthouse. After the hassles of my first attempt, and with the announcement of the state’s fifteen day grace period, I blew off picking up my already-purchased plates. I didn’t want to be one of a couple hundred people with the same idea.
This past Monday at approximately eleven o’clock, I once again pulled into the county courthouse parking lot. It was not refreshing to see that the parking skills of my fellow Minnehaha County residents had not improved. Only a few people had the ability to park in a straight line, let alone between the yellow lines. I almost went next door to the cop shop to find somebody to administer drinking tests to these clems.
Having been led to believe that lines do not exist for the majority of the month, I figured this would be a quick trip. Boy was I wrong! Once again, the line was at least a hundred people long. (I was later informed that it was an hour wait.)
Since I had already paid, I walked right up to one of the windows and asked the clerk if I needed to wait in line for my already-purchased plates. The reaction of this woman made me wonder if courthouse supervisor Pam Nelson possesses one of those magic wands that was used on Will Smith in Men in Black. She couldn’t comprehend what I was talking about.
I explained that I was previously present during the crazy day when the computers broke down…and received a stone-faced stare. “Let me take care of this person and I’ll look into it”, she finally responded.
After waiting ten minutes for a simple renewal by the person she was waiting on she waddled over to the far side of her office. Five minutes later she waddled over to the other end. Finally, she returned with my plates. “What was your name? Bill Hudson?” “Um no, it’s Scott”, I replied as I quickly retreated out of the building.
Let’s get this straight. The courthouse problems are more than just a result of a faulty system in Pierre. Lines don’t just occur at the end of the month. Just what is the problem?
I said this two weeks ago, and I’ll say it again. The major problem at the courthouse is the staffing. There is no sense of urgency; these are not customer service people. At best, they’re the bastard parents of the convenience and video store employees of Clerks. They’re collecting a paycheck, and they’ll do anything that results in fewer tasks to be performed.
According to a member of the county commission, the fingers should be pointed to Pam Nelson. She’s an office manager, not a manager of customer service. People who work in office settings don’t need to schedule smoke and lunch breaks with customers in mind. Customer service settings do need this sort of order. And they also need reliable employees. A few weeks ago, six out of twelve scheduled employees called in sick on the same day. Even my family’s business doesn’t have these problems.
What’s the solution to these “waiting game” problems? It’s simple – get rid of Nelson and hire somebody from the private sector who has retail experience. Use incentives to encourage employees to get busy people such as you and I in and out of the building as quickly as possible. Something has to be done soon!


Anonymous said…
The only way to get rid of Nelson is to not vote for her the next time she's up for re-election.
Anonymous said…
When my mom went to pick up her license plates last week, only 3 of the 12 booths were open. She waited 2 hours. I guess 9 of those courthouse "employees" all needed the same day off or called in sick, whatever.
Another amusing antidote for you. Years and years ago during college I worked in the mail processing department of a bank. One lady that worked there missed at 2-3 days a week. I'm not exaggerating. This lady also took 2 weeks off when her dog got sick from eating chocolate. The lady worked at the bank for a few months before finally getting canned. So what does this have to do with your courthouse story? After she got canned from the bank, she started working at the County Courthouse. If she still "works" there, then I bet she was one of the "employees" who called in sick. My bet is she called in sick today too.

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