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Naps, fantasy football at DMV as computer problems lengthen waits

August 14, 2012 |  3:03 pm

Zane Urquhart, 24, couldn't believe his luck. He had lost his wallet while grocery shopping on Monday night, and then when he arrived at the Hollywood DMV early the next morning, the computers were down.

"It's kind of like a double slap from God," said Koreatown resident Urquhart, who was hoping to get his driver's license replaced that day.

At about 9:30 a.m., the employee at the front desk gave Urquhart and others who arrived at the DMV while computers were down two options: make an appointment for another time or wait.

Urquhart left. But when faced with the same decision a few hours later, Ely Orozco, 39, patiently took a seat among the half-filled rows of blue chairs. She told herself she would wait until she finished reading her an article in Success magazine. As backup, she made an appointment for Thursday.

Two paragraphs to go and 35 minutes later, the computers were back up and running. She quickly grabbed a number.

"It worked out better for us," said Orozco, who had gone to the DMV to help her mother renew her California ID card. "That's about what I expected to wait even if the computers were up."

Urquhart ended up going back to the DMV a few hours later and discovered the computers were up and running, but that the ticket machine was broken.

"Well, OK, that's the DMV for you," he said.

At the DMV in Hawthorne, a line of people stretched past the glass front double doors minutes after the computer system was back online.

At times, customers driving into the parking lot of the branch office called out to those in line, asking if the computers were back on.

Chris Thomas, 53, of Los Angeles said he must have had luck on his side today.

He arrived just a few minutes after the computer systems were online and waited only 15 minutes before completing his transaction.

"I feel blessed," said Thomas, who was picking up a disabled placard.

But luck wasn't on the side of Anthony Achilefu, 29, and Ian Seip, 24, who were among more than 15 people who had arrived at the office early and chose to stay despite the computer glitch.

To kill time, Seip said he surfed the Internet on his phone.

 "I'm in a fantasy football league so I was checking ESPN," he said.

Lawndale resident Achilefu, who had arrived at the office around 10:30, said more than 60 people chose to leave when a DMV officer told the crowd that they could wait or return tomorrow.

"It was very frustrating," Achilefu said.

Achilefu said he had to call his work to report that he was going to be late. He even sent a photo of a sign taped to the entrance that said the computers were out.

Then he took a nap.


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-- Melissa Leu in Hollywood and Ruben Vives in Hawthorne

Photo: The line outside the DMV office in South Los Angeles is long on Tuesday after the California Department of Motor Vehicles experienced a statewide computer outage. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times