I GOT another chance to transact with the Talisay City Extension Office of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 this week when I renewed my driver’s license. Much has changed in the setup there since years ago when the office was run by Bernard Borromeo Jr. There are a number of reasons for that, one of which is the dramatic rise in the number of its clientele. It is difficult to speed up the processing work when an office is swamped with people.

It took me two days to process the renewal of my driver’s license even if I tried to give the LTO the Social Security System (SSS) treatment. When I apply for a loan, I always go to the SSS office as early as 6 a.m. So I went to the Talisay City Extension Office in Lawaan in those two days at around the same time. My mistake on the first day was that I ate breakfast first in the eatery at the back of the mall in the compound before proceeding to the LTO. So on the second day, I ate breakfast only at around 10 a.m.

The first problem was getting a medical certificate and having myself drug-tested. The medical firm doing that is conveniently on the upper floor of the building housing the LTO extension office. My priority number was 48. In fairness, the firm tried to speed up the testing to the point of skimming through the medical exam (I don’t know if the same was done when my urine was tested). I completed the process at around 10 a.m. (of course, the document said I wasn’t a drug addict).

That was when I realized the money in my wallet wasn’t enough for the license payments. So before I could proceed to the LTO extension office, I had to find an ATM machine fast. Three ATM machines were in the mall. These weren’t functioning. I proceeded to another mall about a kilometer away. There were two machines there. Again, these weren’t functioning. The one functioning ATM machine was in another mall half a kilometer away. That took me two short multicab rides.

On the way back to Lawaan, I initiated a conversation with the multicab driver about processing a driver’s license. He told me that when he renewed his license he had to proceed to the LTO processing center in SM at the North Reclasmation Area because after securing the result of the drug test at around 10 a.m., the Talisay extension office no longer accepted applications. That had me rushing back to LTO Talisay. “Go back tomorrow,” the guard there curtly told me.

It’s an interesting setup, actually. After around 200 priority numbers for driver’s license applications are given, the office already calls it a day. Woe to those who go there at around 10 a.m. (By the way, even if you are lucky to get a priority number, the office processes only half of those in the morning. The rest are told to go back in the afternoon.)

I was glad that when I processed the renewal of my driver’s license on the second day, an LTO employee, who is an acquaintance, lumped my application with those of senior citizens. The processing sped up considerably.

Even then, it slowed down when the LTO computer network conked out. That was when I managed to sneak out and eat breakfast (more of a brunch) in the nearby eatery.