When the telephone rings even before the furniture store opens, it means business is so great that customers can't wait to place their orders, right?
Wrong. It means another person wanted the Motor Vehicle Administration, but rang up the Oak Barn.
"We'll get anywhere from 15 to 20 MVA calls a day," says Craig Wynne, owner of the store on Dorsey Road in Hanover.
The store number, 768-7100, is only one digit different from the MVA's recorded information line, 768-7000.
Mr. Wynne and his sales workers routinely hear tales of woe about new titles, lost tags and license renewals from motorists desperate to tell their plight to anyone who will listen.
"They've been talking to a computer, and we'll tell them, no, we're a furniture store. But they just keep on going, telling us their problems," Mr. Wynne says.
The furniture store doesn't give tags and title advice. It gives the MVA telephone number.
Saleswoman Norene Leonard says that she gets calls from people who have dialed 768-7100 in hopes that it is an inside MVA line and who do not want to be referred to the main line.
"They say, 'Can you refer me to someone there?' -- like we have a connection," Ms. Leonard said. "People call back. They ask, 'Do you have another number?' "
MVA does have another number, 950-1682. Callers are likely to get a recording telling them to hold the line for one of the 60 customer service representatives.
The furniture store also takes a few calls for Wilkins Buick-Isuzu, 768-1700, as well as the occasional call for For Eyes Optical Co., 768-6100, both in Glen Burnie.
The auto dealership gets about 10 calls a day for the MVA, generally clustered between 8:30 and 9 a.m., receptionist Tyrice Mitchell said.
The two MVA lines field about 11,000 calls a day, MVA spokesman Jim Lang said. Because a recording answers 7000, there's no way of telling if any callers were seeking information about furniture.