Commentary: My Time at Licensing Office

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‘Listen, how has that office not been bulldozed and a proper one been built, I mean it’s old, gross and has clearly outgrown itself’


By Alicia Chamely

WHAT do you get when you take Alicia and add copious amounts of rum punch and the sweet sounds of soca?

A hurricane of chaotic fun, that’s what!

After a three-year hiatus I exercised my rights as a pure-blooded Trini to fete and oh what a time!

Last week Friday I squeezed myself into some Spanx, threw on some glittery makeup, used half a can of hairspray and greased up my hips because it was fete time!

Over the past couple of years, we have all been wound so tightly it was amazing to finally let loose.

The music, the crowd, the atmosphere of bacchanal, formulating a plan (that thankfully failed) to be launched on stage to wine on Farmer Nappy, the few hours free from my daily stresses, was all exactly what I needed to feel “fun” again.

And this is what Carnival is, a release, a chance to step away from the chaos of our daily lives and just feel unburdened, be it even for a few minutes or two days on the road.

This destress was exactly what I needed as yesterday, one week after my fete free up, I was tasked with descending into one of the most dreaded circles of hell… the Wrightson Road, Licensing office.

Full disclosure my driver’s license had expired in October, and I conveniently forgot. When the appointment system ended, I figured I’d give it a week and then try my luck for a walk-in.

The no-appointment, free for all ended in a record-breaking 48 hours, when some genius realised “Hey that system of appointments really helped the process of license renewals, maybe we should keep this system of a somewhat orderly process.” Ding! Ding! Ding! Move to the front of the line sir, for you are the hero we all needed.

So, a new appointment was made and yesterday morning, armed with my manilla folder of documents, closed-toe shoes and a sleeved shirt, I sprayed myself with holy water and moseyed on down to the Licensing Office.

The first indication that this process would be an entertaining one was when I pulled up in the parking lot and noticed the man parked next to me was in his car smoking weed (or maybe something resembling marijuana). Homie stared me straight in eye and nodded, we both understood sometimes you need more than coffee to deal with Government services.


My appointment was for 8.20 am, I was advised to arrive 15 minutes early, so at 7.55 am I joined a line of similarly anxious people waiting to be let in.

At 8 am, the most chill licensing employee came out and shuffled everyone into the correct lines. Now, judging by her face, this lady has dealt with a lot, and despite being generally calm, looked as though she was going to blow a fuse when someone asked her if they should fill out their forms now or wait until they get to the counter. Dealing with stupidity is exhausting.

‘Yum, nothing like sky-rat feathers all up in yuh face, forget Covid, I may now have the plague’

After answering a bunch of dumb questions from people who clearly were not fully awake, she ushered us in. What annoyed me in a very petty way was the man in front of me had a 9.30 appointment and was ahead of me. Guess the “free for all” hasn’t completely ended.

Things went smoothly, with the fancy pansy electronic check-in machine -how first world of us – handed in my documents, all nice and smooth then got directed to the cashier, who surprisingly was there on time!

Too good to be true, too good to be true, because I was informed, she didn’t get her float yet and didn’t have change, so I should go find some change. This led to me pleading with the doubles man outside to break a $100 for me. The sympathetic look in his eyes told me my scenario was a regular occurrence.

So back to the cashier, who either has a severe superiority complex or is phenomenally aware that she is the most villainized person in the office and has accepted the role. I was handed my receipt and told, “Go round de building, and in de brown doors.”

Listen, how has that office not been bulldozed and a proper one been built, I mean it’s old, gross and has clearly outgrown itself.

On my journey around the back of the building I was assaulted by a pigeon that had made itself a defender of the damp alleyway, I had to cross. Yum, nothing like sky-rat feathers all up in yuh face, forget Covid, I may now have the plague.

From here it was reasonably seamless, a small room, offered everyone gum, everyone declined and looked at me like I was mad, got called to take my picture, was told to smile and now I look like a deranged woman trying to hold in a fart on my permit.

All-in -, it took me a surprisingly unpainful hour. Yes, my smart watch that gave me hopes that it would encourage me to make healthier life choices, went off a few times to let me know my stress rate was abnormally high. Yes, there were some kinks, but honestly Bravo licensing office.

I was anxious I would have another Passport Office debacle, but the licensing division has their business in order and praise should be given where it is due.

My only ask is that our Ministry of Works and Transport get serious about upgrading that building, you have a decent bunch of people there and they deserve a mildew and pigeon free work environment.

See you in 10 years License Office! See you at the next fete Farmer Nappy, at which you may not escape me.


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