Andrew Dys

DMV customer service legend? York County retiree ‘The Mayor’ gets ovation from customers

The DMV. A trip to the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles -- let’s face it: Nobody wants to go.

The line. The wait. The forms. The money. The picture that looks like a booking photo for murder.

Friday was the last day the DMV would be open for the month of September. People wanting to avoid late fees rushed the door like a jailbreak.

Yet Friday afternoon at the Fort Mill office of DMV, dozens of customers waiting for service did not look at the clock or the screen showing the number of who is next. They stood, and they clapped for -- here it comes -- a DMV worker.

The woman known at DMV as simply: “The Mayor.”

It was likely the first standing ovation for a DMV worker in history where the customers joined in. Because the retiree was Gail Cook.

Cook’s co-workers joined in the applause, too. Several people cried.

Cook, 33 years on the job in York County DMV branches, took her last number Friday afternoon. She had served tens of thousands of people. She smiled through them all.

“I served strangers, I smiled at them, I laughed with them, I loved them all,” Cook said.

Karen Faris, who worked with Cook for more than 25 years, described Cook’s customer service as “legendary.” Other co-workers mentioned Cook’s smile, her demeanor, at the DMV. Customers talked about how nice she was without even knowing her name.

Cook said joy is contagious -- she spread it every day. But at age 57, Cook said it’s time to try something else.

Maybe the best example that Gail Cook’s customer service at DMV was so special, her smile so beloved, is right at home. When Cook was a DMV driver’s license examiner more than two decades ago, one guy taking the commercial driver’s license passed the test. Then he came back. And back.

Marion Cook ended up marrying Gail Cook, the DMV lady.

And they are still together.