Ezra Klein writes about the DMV:
Little in American life gets described as "Kafka-esque" with quite the regularity of the DMV. That's possibly a sign that fairly few people have read Kafka (updating your registration isn'treally like turning into a cockroach), possibly a sign that Americans are used to pretty impressive amounts of bureaucratic efficiency, and definitely a sign that folks don't like the DMV very much.
For instance: My registration and inspection expired at the same time. In order to renew my registration, I need to pass inspection. But in order to enter inspection, I need to present my registration. The DMV's answer, of course, is a five-day temporary registration that can only be obtained at their service locations. Thus an extra trip to everyone's least favorite bureaucracy.
Two thoughts... first off, I'm pretty sure it's not Metamorphoses but rather The Trial and The Castle that people are referring to when they describe the DMV as Kafak-esque. If anything, the above quote makes it seem as if Klein hasn't read all that much Kafka. Either way, though, I agree with Klein that there are better authors to compare going to the DMV with.
My vote? Stanislaw Lem. No writer captured the soul crushing hilarity of Government bureaucracy quite like Lem. I would specifically recommend his Memoirs Found In A Bathtub in which a guy looking to enlist in a massive government spying operation winds up immediately part of a plot he can never hope to understand and The Cyberiad, Lem's hilarious robot short story collection.
Seriously, tho, Klein is right, the DMV sucks in ways that make no sense. Furthermore, those of us who favor larger government need to understand the necessity of government being demonstrably effective and transparent. This serves a practical purpose-- all that money should be spent effectively and efficiently. But it also serves a PR purpose-- people are more likely to support more government if they, you know, like the government alright.
To this end, it is insane that we allow the DMV to work as badly as it does. The DMV is one of the main very normal ways that people come into contact with their government. And what do they see? Long lines, pointless paperwork, surly staff, unclear directions, wasted time. It doesn't have to be this way, though.