WASHINGTON, DC – Faced with increased backlash over the absurd amount of time and effort residents are spending to obtain simple building permits, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) tapped Ernest Chrappah, the former Deputy Chief of Operations for the DC Taxicab Commission, to fix the agency.
“It was an obvious choice,” stated DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “When I think about construction, the first thing that comes to my mind is a taxi.”
Immediately, the new director began implementing changes to the department, which has become known as a place where residents’ dreams go to die.
“Everyone seems to hate how long it takes DC to issue building permits, but they love game shows like Cash Cab, the popular taxi trivia game,” stated Chrappah. “I immediately knew that turning the process into a competition would be much more popular with the public – and fun for DCRA employees to watch.”
To enter the contest, an email must be sent to DCRA, which will almost never be responded to. Those who are lucky enough to receive a response are then given a 37 page contestant application with contradictory information and no instructions.
“It’s a true test of patience,” explained Chrappah. “We’re seeking candidates who can handle years of frustrations and not crack under the pressure.”
When contestants with completed applications arrive at 1300 4th Street SE, they are greeted with a brand new lobby entrance redesigned as a mirror maze. The end of the maze leads to the check-in desk. Most contestants, sadly, never find their way out of the maze and are lost forever.
Those who are successful in finding the check-in desk are assigned a plan reviewer who must be found in a multi-floor game of Hide and Seek. If they manage to find their plan reviewer hiding in the upper shelves of a storage room, they are rewarded with a key to exit the pre-screening area (except for the unlucky few who are randomly directed to the Zoning Department, a giant ball pit where the setback regulations are buried beneath ten feet of multi-colored plastic spheres of anxiety).
Upon the completion of pre-screening, plans are divided by reviewing department and dropped, piece by piece, into the top of a giant Plinko board. They each bounce their way down the board into one of 10 possible slots, nine of which require a resubmittal with corrections. No contestant can proceed to the final competition until every part of their plans makes it to the 10th slot: Approved.
The last step in the process is a head-to-head Showcase Showdown, in which homeowners must estimate the cost of construction. The homeowner who comes closest to estimating their costs, as judged by the angry DCRA employee just getting back from Starbucks downstairs, wins. The loser is forced to start the whole process over from the beginning.
Winners receive an official building permit, complete with exorbitant fees, and every third winner’s permit includes a bonus typo, thus entitling them to a mandatory second appearance on the show.