Turn off Pukalani Street into a tunnel of overarching monkeypod trees. A scatter of empty parking stalls behind the Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani promises a quick visit.
At hand are the annual tag visits for the truck and two motorcycles. It wouldn't be problem with safety certificates in hand. Of course, to get the safety sticker attached to your bumper you have to have an insurance card. Oops, forgot the checkbook and a debit card is no good when dealing with the county. Look over wallet and the old registration card. OK, there should be enough cash to cover the registration and weight fees.
This is the first of two visits this week. Today, for the truck. Tomorrow, for Baby Dancer. Both had overdue tags. Ah, well. That meant getting a provisional safety check, getting the registration up to date and returning to the Calasa service station for the sticker. Getting Baby Dancer legal meant going to Waikapu for David to do the inspection. There are a very few places on Maui - Patao's in Wailuku is another - to get motorcycle safety stickers since two-wheel inspectors must have motorcycle licenses.
While doing the truck inspection at the old Calasa station in Waiakoa, Joe had said it might be a long wait at the county office since it was the first day after a three-day weekend. He was wrong. There are fewer than a dozen individuals sitting in the red plastic chairs. Most are older, probably retired guys. The county's satellite office hours make it tough to visit if you have a Monday-Friday day job.
First, a visit to the number machine just inside the door. Scan the four categories. Registration falls under "other." Hit the button and pull out a ticket with a three-digit number. Find a seat and glance at the TV screens. Judging from the voiceless captions, one was showing a cable talk show. The other has various soundless pitches for county programs and projects. An inset shows the number of the tickets being served and reminders to have all necessary papers in hand.
Hmmm. The ticket number is only six from the one being served. The wait should be just long enough to duck outside for a cigarette. Addiction taken care of and back in a seat, start a conversation with a young guy. He's there with his wife, a baby and a thick, dealer da kine envelope stuffed with papers. The baby belongs to a niece. The papers are for his new truck.
"The best thing about babysitting is . . . " The young guy grins and finishes the sentence, "you can give 'em back."
We settle back and wait. One of the first Maui lessons was in the art of waiting in line at a county DMV office. Remember getting sunburned while in the line in at the War Memorial Gym? And before that, the lines were in the cool lobby of the county building on High Street.
At one time, the best thing about the gym office was its supervisor, Henry Rosa. He was a rare bureaucrat. If you had a situation that had clerks throwing up their hands and saying "no way," Henry would figure out a solution to the problem.
The folks at the Pukalani satellite office are good at handling most everything. They handle the routine stuff efficiently and are pleasant even when facing someone who is upset.
The next number comes up. A tall, older guy marches across the office. He ignores the chair at the counter and stares down at the clerk. His back is ramrod straight. His hands are full of papers. Overall, he looks ready for combat.
He begins outlining some sort of property tax pilikia. Apparently he's disputing how the county was classifying his two houses on ag land "I've lived on for 20 years." The longer he spoke, the louder he got.
The young guy and I raise our eyebrows. We exchange shrugs and grin knowingly. The loud dude is definitely being maha'oi.
The clerk hands the pushy man a sheet of paper. "Here are answers to your questions." It took concentration to hear her soft voice. The upset customer takes the sheet but doesn't look at it. He wants to finish chewing on the clerk about "ridiculous" government rules. She listens calmly until he winds down and marches out, muttering "this is going to take all day."
The clerk deserved applause. "It's nice to hear you say so," she said. While she processed the papers, we chatted. It turned out she'd been working in the normally library-quiet office for just a few months. She'd been laid off after 20 years with a private outfit.
The next day, Baby Dancer was made legal. The parking lot outside the county's satellite office in Pukalani was just as pleasant. So were the clerks.
* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.