locks at license branches? No problem!

Did you happen to see a report this week about the Bureau of Motor Vehicles banning clocks at its branches?

In what has to join the list of Most Bizarre Government Policies Ever, BMV bosses have decided that hiding clocks is a great way to make long waits seem shorter. Without clocks to watch, people standing in long lines supposedly won't be able to complain about just how long they've been waiting.

I'm not kidding. Someone who collects a paycheck from Indiana taxpayers actually came up with this idea.

At first I thought the idea was part of a plan by Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration to dampen the furor over daylight-saving time. Just hide all of our clocks! But no, this is actually a serious attempt to reduce customer complaints at the BMV by preventing clock-watching.

Apparently, BMV Commissioner Joel Silverman envisions conversations like this:

Customer One: "So, how long have you been waiting?"

Customer Two: "I have no idea, so I guess not long. (Looks outside.) But the sun was still up when I got here. (Shrugs shoulders.)"

See? No clocks, no problems.

This idea appears to be unique in government, although it recalls the no-windows rule in some casinos, which is said to guarantee gamblers don't realize how much time has passed before they've emptied their wallets.

While unusual, the bureau's "don't worry, be happy" strategy offers super potential for fans of hiding problems to make them go away. Just think. If hiding clocks does end the cherished tradition of griping about BMV service, then government can solve all kinds of other problems with simple prohibitions.

No calculators: City and state budget deficits could be erased in one day if the budget folks would toss their calculators in the trash. If you can't calculate deficits, why worry about them?

No sniffing: The stink from sewage overflows in Fall Creek and other area waterways can induce the dry heaves. But is a problem unsmelled still a problem? Let's find out. Plug your noses and maybe we'll save millions in upgrades to the city's dilapidated sewer system.

No sweating: This one's for all of us. Yes, we've had day after day of summer temperatures topping 90 degrees. Unlike with clocks, we can't hide the sun. So just stop sweating and pretend today is a breezy, cool fall day.

BMV spokesman Greg Cook had the ill-fated task of fielding my questions on the no-clocks rule. After talking to higher-ups, he called back with a few talking points. The rule, he said, is doubly beneficial. First, it makes sure workers are not fixated on quitting time. Second, it helps manage "the customer's perception of the (BMV) experience."

No clocks, no long waits. Is it really that simple?

Of course not. This is silly. A problem hidden is still a problem. And the lack of clocks won't ease the annoyance of waiting in long lines for license plates.

But Silverman is doing some smart things to fix the bureau. And the former Galyans Sports & Outdoor executive does know a bit about creating an enjoyable retail experience. So maybe we should give him a chance.

Still, here's a tip. Next time you head to the BMV, wear a watch. And then complain all you want.
nothing like government at work.