Like a kid enduring his bar mitzvah, Bostonians ritually subject themselves to judgment at one of a number of MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicles branches. This is especially true of the old flagship location atop the Chinatown Orange line station. However, with the new Haymarket RMV branch’s opening last September, things are looking up.
At least that’s what I think after having visited earlier this month. I’d just turned 30, and my expired, out-of-state driver’s license was burning a Texas-shaped hole in my back pocket. Stories of Chinatown’s horrors had previously deterred me from transferring my license to Massachusetts, but now I had no choice. (That is, if I ever legally wanted to buy alcohol again.)
What follows is the record of my visit.
6:00 a.m. You know that feeling of remorse when your alarm goes off, and you think, “Didn’t I just lay down?” Yeah, that’s how I’m feeling right now.
6:30 a.m. My roommates take issue with my penchant for snoozing, so I finally stop.
6:45 a.m. After my first cup of coffee and round of Reddit, I remember the RMV doesn’t open till 9:00 a.m. Time to kill.
9:00 a.m. At the bus stop. Since I’m practically in Newton, my route into downtown requires at least one bus and one train.
10:01 a.m. Arrive at Haymarket Station. I have an address for the RMV, so GPS it is. Too bad the signal’s weak underground…
10:15 a.m. I have no idea where I am. Google Maps wants me to walk circles in the North End. All is lost.
10:18 a.m. A sign! Reads “RMV THIS WAY” with an arrow pointing right.
10:19 a.m. I circle the block following such indicators until I arrive at the RMV. I can see Haymarket Station from here. There were signs where I exited, but I was too busy playing with my phone. Idiot.
10:20 a.m. Required paperwork is already prepared. I don’t feel like wasting away for a few hours, so I grab a ticket and wait.
10:21 a.m. Ticket gives me an alphanumeric ID and an estimated wait time of 20 minutes. Marquees and a MBTA-like disembodied voice announce customers being served and the station serving them.
10:22 a.m. 18 minutes left on my estimate and I’m already bor…FREE WI-FI!
10:35 a.m. Did I just hear “B138”? Yup! It’s on the marquee. Damn, that was fast. What about all those Chinatown stories I’d been warned about? This can’t be right.
10:45 a.m. I’m done. Five minutes after my estimated start time, I’m already done. RMV now possesses my old Texas license, which makes it real.
This doesn’t make any sense. Ever since moving to Boston, I was told I’d hate my life (and then some) during my required visit to the Chinatown RMV. Maybe if the old flagship location weren’t soon to be closed, I would’ve experienced the various levels of hell not even Dante was willing to write about. But I didn’t.
The new location at Haymarket is huge, well-lit, and designed for a user-friendly experience. There were plenty of signs telling me where to go, plenty of personnel willing to help me, and a friendly robot voice letting me know it was my turn to become a Masshole.