The Department of Motor Vehicles. There are few places in this world that are more dreaded.
Last Thursday, I had an expired out of state registration that needed updating and I was forced to make a visit. Just moving from Florida to Connecticut, I’ve had to go to the DMV a few times; each time worse than the previous. This last time however…what a blast.
I’m not sure how the DMV is set up in other states, but here in Connecticut the process is fairly streamlined. When you enter, you immediately get into a line where you are given a waiting number. This ticket is actually four characters; a letter followed by a three digit number. The letter is either A, B, C, D or E depending on what you need to take care of and the most common letter is D. This is the letter that represents registrations of all kinds, and when I arrived last Thursday, I received D-657.
Foolishly, I waited all month to take care of this out of state transfer and chose the day that was likely the most packed. Because the DMV was closed on Good Friday and it was the end of the month, there were only a couple of empty seats. With my laptop, I grabbed a seat and planned for around 90 minutes of people watching / work.
Before I knew it, a full hour had passed and I was a handful of numbers away from being called. Normally, this brings me excitement, knowing I’m that close to getting out of the DMV but I was kind of enjoying it this time around. You see, I work from home and rarely get a chance to get out of the house. Work was getting done, and I was in no rush to go back home so I developed a quick plan to make money that would ensure an eventful day.
How to Make Money at the DMV
I took a quick scan of the DMV and noticed mostly somber people. Some were on their cell phones, others were just staring into space and knowing the feeling I have sometimes when I have a two hour wait ahead of me, I decided to take action. When D-655 was called, I had about five minutes to sell (and trade) my spot in line. A few things crossed my mind when I decided to do this:
- Would I be asked to leave the DMV? Is what I’ve chosen to do somehow breaking the law or ethically wrong? I thought if I was someone else at the DMV, would I be affected in any way by someone selling their spot in line. The answer was no to all questions.
- Would I have the stones to do this? To get maximum value, I’d have to stand up where everyone could see me and announce that I was next in line, and anyone that wanted to buy that spot (and give me their ticket as well) could pay me cash to do so. Never been too afraid of public speaking, so this wasn’t a problem either.
So, I put my laptop down on the ground, stood on top of my chair and said loudly
“I have ticket D-657. If anyone wants to be trade their ticket with me for a little coin, come on over before they call my number”.
I had the attention of the room and even the DMV workers helping others looked at me. For a few seconds, I saw only blank stares and smiles; and then I had a heavy set fellow walk over to me with ticket D-680 and a $20 bill. I looked around to see if there was any other interest; and we swapped. I said thank you, he was called up in a couple of minutes and I sat back down knowing in about an hour, I would do the whole thing again.
Truth be told I had a lot of tension leading up to the first ticket sale. As I did this a few times more, it got easier and easier. I would simply sit in my chair waiting for my number to approach and repeat the auction process with a new group of tired DMV patrons. After the second time, I took my new number and left the DMV for 45 minutes (Burger King down the road) and returned in plenty of time.
The whole day just flew by and before I knew it, I had traded my number for a 6th time, and had amassed a total of $180. (The best trade being a $50 one). With only about an hour left before the DMV closed, I decided to simply wait out my turn in line, get my vehicle registered and call it a day.
My registration costs were $130, so when I left the DMV, I was one Ulysses S. Grant richer with a “free” registration. Not only that, I was able to tackle a good amount of work while just waiting my turn so it’s not as if I have to factor in “opportunity cost” to my revenues at the DMV. I had fun, I made money, and I was able to knock out one of the most annoying errands anyone has to accomplish.
I hope my tale invigorates you to think of new ways to make money!
Editor’s note: What do you think of Michael’s money making hustle? Do you think it’s ethical? Would you try something so daring?
Image by Andres Rueda