Jeff Hutcheson

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I was supposed to renew my driver’s license in April but because of COVID, and possibly forgetfulness, I never got around to it. I could renew my registration online, but you have to go in person for license renewal. So, I figured I’d head to the Montague Access PEI because people say it’s faster than the Charlottetown location. Also, the lineups in Charlottetown have been absurd lately. So I googled Access PEI in Montague to find their location, only to find they remain temporarily closed. So, Charlottetown and their absurd lineup it is.

Just how absurd?

11:46 am: I arrive at Access PEI’s Charlottetown location and get in line. There were 47 people in front of me. At least I didn’t have to take a number.

12:00 pm: I literally haven’t moved in 15 minutes, and realize I left my phone in the truck. I quickly make friends with the lady behind me.

12:05 pm: I ask the lady behind me, my new friend, if she will hold my place while I run and get my phone. I can now communicate with the outside world again.

12:20 pm: I notice several people in front of me are beginning to walk on the spot. They have been here much longer than me. I fear they are developing deep vein thrombosis.

12:32 pm: Forty-six minutes after my arrival, I enter the series of tents set up to protect us from the weather. I’ve moved 120 feet since arrival. The tent is L-shaped so I can look ahead and see who is moving. No one is moving.

12:40 pm: A guy with a green knapsack disappears from my view where the tent intersects with the building. I prepare to move up six feet.

12:55 pm: I’ve now been in line for one hour and nine minutes. I see a sign in the tent telling me the Access PEI Wi-Fi password. I type it in. There is no internet access. Ironic, considering I’m at ‘Access’ PEI.

1:10 pm: I move 10 steps forward in the tented area, my biggest single move yet. The tent is covered on the top, but only one side. I realize the area where I’m now standing has taken on the characteristics of a wind tunnel. North Cape doesn’t see this much direct wind.

1:25 pm: I move toward the turn in the tent. I can now see the end of the line. A lady in front of me raises the possibility of another line once you’re inside. Never thought of that.

1:35 pm: The lady directly in front of me now asks me to hold her place while she goes and gets her mask. She comes back with a Donald Trump mask. (Kidding ... it’s been a long day)

1:46 pm: I pass the two hour mark playing Hearts on my phone. There are nine people still in front of me. I look back at the end of the line and think there’s no way that guy gets in before 4 pm.

2:00 pm: People around me in line are beginning to wonder just how many people are being processed every hour. Consensus is ‘not many’ with ‘not enough’ coming in a close second.

2:15 pm: My phone battery drops to 17 per cent.

2:25 pm: I’m in. But first, another lineup, this one with just three people.

Finally, two hours and 39 minutes after I first entered the line, I stepped up to the booth to renew my license. I hand in my form. The gentleman looks at it and says, “What are you doing, changing your address?”

“No, renewing my license.”

“You don’t have to do that for four more years.”

“Wait ... what ... sorry ... say again.”

“Your license lasts five years, you have four to go.”

“Sooooo, you’re saying I didn’t have to ... oh boy.”

That’s two hours and 39 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

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(2) comments


So, you show up shortly before noon and expect to whiz through? The employees inside are entitled to lunch breaks you know. Here in Montague you see seniors during those few days towards the end of the month when they get their pension cheques showing up in droves at the CIBC just before lunch and then carping and kvetching in the lineup about wait times. Prior to COVID none of them would consider using the automated tellers and then, after cashing their cheques they could be found, at 12:30 pm, over at Sobey's, impatient about the lineups there as well. I'm in my 60's and I'm perfectly capable of appearing at 8:59 at Service Canada or 9:59 at the bank if I need service from a teller. Why do older and elderly islanders always do the 'just-before-lunch' thing?

Jeff Hutcheson

Hi ‘Leviticus’

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated. I can guarantee you the 30-something year old women in line directly me and the 40 year old who arrived at 1.30, each had a wait time as long as me, likely longer. The people who arrived at 10am? Those were the ones affected by a ‘lunch break’.

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