Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Tales From the DMV
Once upon a Tuesday, I ventured into the DMV for a simple license switch. Nothing major; the legal equivalent of going to the doctor about that minor cough you've been having, but if left unchecked may materialize into Ebola. When I pulled up to the Monopoly house that is the Huntingdon Valley DMV, a magical parking spot appeared in front of the crowded doors. Wow, all the luck I'm going to have for the next five hours. In case a replacement picture was needed (or the paparazzi were afoot), I gussied myself up in my rear-view mirror. In a strangely pathetic way, I was excited to be a documented redhead.
Both I and another man simultaneously busted through the nondescript windowdoors and surveyed the scene. We exchanged looks, "It's always really busy," he said. I nodded overemphatically, and we parted ways. I approached the semi-functioning ticket machine that looked like an 80's time machine and pressed "C" for "other business information." My fate was sealed in the number 879.
I took a seat in the last row. I figured I could conk myself out using my head and the black wall if I needed to dull the persistent pain of absolute boredom and forced silence. I scanned the room, and was delighted to see the population of which had sizable representation from both the cubicle droid and slutty teen demographics. Even if I didn't particularly look it, I felt like a C in a room full of A's and B's.
I slid over a seat and called to an erect mother/son duo to join (and likely commiserate with) me. Oh boy, I mused, perhaps I could humor them with generic statements about waiting and the permit test! After carrying out the prescripted spiel about waiting and chuckling smugly with both of my neighboring parties, the son blurted, "Yeah, well what do you expect? It's government-run." Dripping with sarcasm, I chastised him for slighting the servants of our nation's finest institution, while my eyes glared at the flickering ticker. "I'm in purgatory, right? Just checking." The mother/son pair laughed at my cheezy attempt at DMV stand-up, and I once again returned to mutism.
Suddenly, 879 appeared on the ticker, and I popped out of my confining chair. The Mother and Son team cheered as I raced to Window 4. I looked at the man across from me in the window. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but this guy was different than the other government zombies I've encountered in the past. His eyes were bordered by laugh-crafted crinkles, whereas their eyes and mouths hung droopily; he earned his grey with time, whereas they paid for theirs prematurily.
Window 4 smiled at me and asked "What kind of service would you like?" The government sure uses their money well, I thought. What an amusingly realistic robot!
"Well, actually, heh, I have a couple of questions." I jerked, snapping out of my boredom-induced coma.
"See, I want to get my junior license changed into a senior license. I mean, I'm 20, so I'm older than 18. Do I need to have anyone sign this? Anyway, I wanted to get my address changed, but I figure, I might as well just get a senior license while I'm at it..." I waited nervously for the prognosis.
"Do you have your license with you?"
"Uh, yeah." He turned around to grab paperwork while I fished in my purse for my wallet. I slapped the license on the counter as if I deserved some sort of a prize.
"I'll tell you what, Jack..."
Jack, I chuckled to myself, exactly how my uncle would have said it...
"...You need a change of address, right?"
"How about I make you a senior license, but we keep the old picture and change the address. Sound good?"
He messed around with the computer system and asked if all the information looked alright.
"Do you have a check on you?"
"Oh, no, just cash."
"Alright, you can run over to SuperFresh and get a money order. I'll make your license while you're doing that so you don't have to wait longer."
"Thanks...You know, I was talking to someone here, and well, I think this place is like purgatory."
"Heh, it is." He nodded overemphatically. "Welcome to my hell. I'm living it."
My laugh was tinged with pity, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"I'll tell you something." He leaned in closer. "After working here for so long, I come in, and I all I want...is a big barbell..."
He and I exchanged wicked looks and snorted.
"Wait, if I leave and come back, do I need to get a new number and wait again?"
He glanced up from the computer and flatly blurted, "Only if you want to be a groupie, Jacquie."
I laughed at how preposterous his statement was. "Hah, I like you! You're good people."
He looked up and smiled. "You go and get that money order, and you'll be out of here in a couple of minutes." Unlike me, I imagined him thinking.
"Thanks!" I said, and jaunted out of that godforsaken building. I looked over as I was sprinting and saw the Mother and Son still impatiently waiting for their number to be called.
On the way back from SuperFresh, I admittedly thought about writing this very entry, and wondered how I could meaningfully cap off my conversation with this goodnatured employee who I'd probably never talk to ever again. Maybe I could say something like:
"Oh hey, I never got your name." When he would tell me, then I could say, "Well, ______, good luck in here," while giving him a slight smile and nod as if to say, "Don't let them swallow you."
However, that never happened. When I returned, I went to jump in front of Window 4, but there was a slutty teen pair in the way. He looked over, grabbed the money order and signed it, and gave me the new license. "There you go," he said, and I replied with "Thanks" and strolled out of the building, not forgetting to give the involuntarily patient Mother and Son a "thumbs up" for good luck on the permit test. I sealed shut the languid limbo behind me, and drove off with a slightly altered license and a new-found respect for DMV employees who manage to keep their souls in an accessible file.
4:07 PM | Jacquie |
Monday, June 18, 2007
Q: If someone doesn't have the full capacity to love, then what are they?
12:31 AM | Jacquie |