At the DMV, you usually just take a number and sit till it’s called. Easy (and lazy). Or if you’re smart you make an appointment beforehand.
Apparently it’s not the way it’s done here. Needing to submit some forms at the Department of Home Affairs, I entered with a family friend and looked at the rows of chairs nearest the counter I needed to go to.
“How’s the order work?”
“You just sit at the end of the line and move over one seat every time someone is called up to the counter.”
“Really? Really?! Wow.”
So we sat and moved one or two seats at a time, as per the diagram above, through the thirty-seven seats before us until I got to the first seat and then got called up to the counter. Those thirty-seven seats took about two hours.
But then we were up at the counter! Almost finished! Light at the end of the tunnel! Sweet taste of victory nearing the tip of our tongues!
Not quite. It was another hour before I left. Everything seemed to take too long: they copied my phone number wrong from my form and I told them immediately. There’s fifteen minutes while the worker went off to figure out how to change it. I needed to pay the fees associated with the forms but the cashier decided to go off on a break so there’s ten minutes. They ran out of paper to print my document, so there’s fifteen minutes. Et cetera.
Now I’m not going to say that America is without bureaucracy–in fact, it’s rife with it–but this was quite pronounced in how it tried one’s patience. I do have to say that lunch outside in the sun, sipping Savannas did feel nicer than I thought it would.
 Incidentally, the “entrance” had a metal detector and the exit was on the other side, close to where I was getting passport-sized photos taken. Seeing other people do the same, I just walked into the exit (sans metal detector). The security guard made no move to stop anyone.