Hoffman's Houston
DPS = hell

Ken Hoffman on suffering an endless DPS line and queuing up for barbecue

Ken Hoffman on suffering a DPS line and queuing up for barbecue

people standing in line waiting in line office
What's worse: waiting in line at the DPS or for barbecue? Photo by Tom Merton/Getty Images

Over/under on my blood pressure … a billion over a trillion.

Got a letter from the Texas Department of Public Service. “Your driver’s license is about to expire and you have to come into a DPS office to renew it.” Yeah, this will be fun. The DPS Mega Center on Gessner is back in business, and the website says I can “Get in Line Online” — make an appointment, so I won’t have to wait very long.

Except, imagine that: It wasn’t currently available.

Lining up
The DPS Mega Center opens at 7:30 am. I got there at 6:45 am and already there was a long, long line looped around the building. I went to the back of the line, in the rain. At 7:30 am, the door open and we filed in, signed in, took a number and sat in the waiting room. 

Television sets on the wall were tuned into the Motor Vehicle Network, the only channel more mind-numbing than cable’s Cutlery Corner Network, the 24-hour, home shopping knife channel. I’ve watched Cutlery Corner Network and wondered, what kind of idiot is watching this? Then I realize…

Announcements were made over the DPS loudspeaker, directing people who held certain ticket numbers to report to the counter. For example: “Ticket L-22 to Station 53.” Hold on, there are 53 stations at the counter? This shouldn’t take very long.

They said 53 stations, right?
More than an hour later, I was called to Station 42. I looked down the line. Sure there were 53 stations, but it looked like less than half of them actually had clerks processing people. So typical, like your favorite discount department store with 30 checkout lanes — only six are open.

Now I’m not a complainer who doesn’t have a solution to the problem. Here’s the fixer, the DPS Mega Center has 53 counter stations … hire 53 clerks. Duh. Don’t they see that long line of customers when they come to work? Don’t they notice that the waiting room is packed with people, many of whom have to get back to work? It’s not like their office is open nights and weekends, when it would be convenient for people.

And fix your website so people can make appointments, like you promised. Sheesh, do I have to come up with every good idea around here?

Celebs at the DPS?
Just when this experience couldn’t get more typical, I asked my clerk, “Have you ever had any famous people come up to your counter?” She said, “No but [a certain local superstar TV preacher] has been in here a couple of times with his children, but we take him to the back to do his paperwork.” Typical. 

Ken’s top 3 wrestling moves
Recently, during my bi-weekly guest spots on the Charlie Pallilo Show (11 am to 1 pm on ESPN 97.5 FM), Charlie asked me to rank the three most-devastating finishing moves in professional wrestling. Since I was barely paying attention to what he was blabbering, I sputtered, Ric Flair’s “Figure Four Leglock,” Randy Orton’s “RKO Out Of Nowhere,” and I don’t even remember the third one.

Since then, I’ve had time to reflect. Here are my top 3 wrestling moves from which there is no return:

1. The Undertaker’s “Tombstone Piledriver”
2. Jake the Snake Roberts’ “DDT”
3. JBL’s “Clothesline From Hell”

A Grande performance
Ariande Grande recently made big news when she held down the first three spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Quite an accomplishment, first time anybody’s done that in more than 50 years. Her trio of chart-toppers:

1. “7 Days”
2. “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”
3. “Thank You, Next”

Let’s jump in Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine to April 4, 1964, when the Beatles owned, not three, not four, but the top five songs:
1. “Can’t Buy Me Love”
2. “Twist and Shout”
3. “She Loves You”
4. “I Want To Hold Your Hand”
5. “Please Please Me”
(An asterisk goes to rapper 50 Cent, who had three songs in the Top 5 the week of March 12-19 in 2005.)

Pit Stop
For the past few years, I’ve used Right Guard Sport deodorant, which promised that it will keep me dry and smellin’ fresh for 48 hours. I recently switched to Right Guard Alpha, which guarantees that I won’t offend for 96 hours. Question: Does that mean I only have to use it once every four days, or that it will keep me dry if I don’t take a shower for four days?

Tigres eat up a rodeo record
Sunday Los Tigres del Norte set a new attendance record for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo by drawing 75,586 fans to NRG Stadium. They beat Cardi B’s record of 75,580 people, set last week. And Cardi B broke Garth Brooks’ record of 75, 577 from last year.

Here’s the thing, all three of those concerts would have sold 100,000 tickets if that many were available. NRG Stadium has a firm number of seats, which are bolted down. All performers play on the same stage, so it’s not like Toyota Center, where different acts bring different sized stages, so attendance can fluctuate. The fire marshal has rules about how many people are allowed into NRG Stadium.

So how can Los Tigres del Norte sell six more tickets than Cardi B, who sold three more tickets than Garth Brooks? Wanna bet that there will be an announcement next Sunday that George Strait broke the attendance record again? I guarantee it.

Also: Nothing is funnier than watching car dealers squeeze into skinny cowboy jeans in their commercials during Rodeo. They look like sausages about to explode in a microwave. “Honey, do chaps go in front or the back?”

Cued up but no 'cue
This was disappointing. Had some friends in from California who wanted to eat some Texas barbecue. So I took them to a joint, which I happen to love. The line was out the door. While I’m not a line-waiter, we got in back and stood the test of time. About 20 minutes later, when we were just about to enter, someone from the restaurant came out and announced, “We’re out of brisket and pulled pork.”

You’re out of your specialty, on a Saturday night, with two hours before closing time? That’s bad clock management. Who’s running your kitchen, Bill O’Brien?

What are the chances that barbecue places run out of food on purpose as a hype gimmick?


Have a DPS nightmare story? Let Ken know on Twitter