Some days you just know are going to be bad days. The sun might be shinning, the birds might be singing, but you’ve got that feeling deep down telling you to hang on, it’s gonna be bad. Although, I must admit, it doesn’t take a psychic to know a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles is going to ruin any otherwise perfectly nice day.
I tried to fill my mind with casual thoughts, like how we are in our 7th heat wave of the season, as I walked from the back of the parking lot through the blazing sun and into the actual DMV building. Unfortunately those casual thoughts did not last long as I opened the doors only to be met by a line of people waiting to take a number so they could then go wait in another room for assistance. Once I reached the first window, I informed the sullen woman behind the desk I needed to renew my license. Her reply was “of course you do,” and she slapped a button and thrust a ticket in my direction.
I opened the next set of doors and was hit by a stench far worse than that of the Social Security Administration which I had to visit last week. This was the stench of human sadness and defeat, the stench of pure human despair and suffering topped off with some hot body odor. “Did I die?” I wondered. “Am I in hell?” I silently pondered. No. The sign above the door clearly read “The Department of Motor Vehicles,” but I didn’t judge myself to harshly; the two places, Hades and DMV, were most likely pretty interchangeable.
As I found a spot to stand against the wall, I examined my ticket- A229. My heart sank to my toes as I read the number displayed on the board above, A188. “Kill me now,” I muttered. I glanced around the room, full of about 70 or so people waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more.
As I casually glanced around the room, I was perplexed to see so many disgusting characters. Is there another DMV somewhere else that services “normal” human beings? I felt like I was in an episode of Cops or Jerry Springer. There were whole families, barefoot children, a shirtless man, missing teeth, gold teeth, a pair of women who were (unfortunately and obviously) bra-less,an elderly man with pasta sauce (I hope) all over his shirt, crying babies, and one man who had a shopping cart with him- is that a class A license you need for that? Randomly mixed in were some “normals,” but overall I felt like I should be “Booing” someone and yelling for Maury Povitch to read the paternity test results. Just as I began to scold myself for “judging” others based on looks alone, one of “them,” a man with super (duper) short cut off jean shorts and a white holey tee shirt, came and stood next to me. He smelled like he took a bath in whiskey and suddenly, out of no where, began to touch me! WTF! I’m actually not sure whether or not his leaning on me, our bare arms touching skin to skin, was because he was drunk and needed support or if he was a dirty pervert. In either case, I stepped away immediately, only for him to repeat the action twice.
An elderly woman, who had perhaps bathed in her old lady perfume, got up from her seat just a few feet away and when her number was called, I practically jumped into the chair. I looked down at the seat, a stained blue cloth that looked more like germs holding hands than fabric, when I noticed a wet spot near the back of the chair. Sweet baby Jesus that was close! I sat on the edge of the chair and looked at my number again A229. Now serving A201. On second thought, I must have died, and this is most likely hell.
My ass began to go numb as I sat on the edge of the blue germ haven after about 10 minutes. I began to think the wet spot was the old lady’s perfume mostly because of the way smell still hung in the air. My eyes watered and I could feel a headache coming on as I attempted to breathe only through my mouth. I heard a commotion to my right and turned to see an elderly man and woman trying to squeeze through the doorway into the room. A young couple was blocking the door and didn’t move an inch as the woman, in her mid-70’s, held the door for her husband who was on crutches. I waited a brief moment, turning all the way around in my seat and shaking my head as no one else offered a chair. “Maybe this was all I test,” I reasoned silently with myself as I rose from my chair. I offered my seat to the couple and the person next to me, a young girl, did the same. I chose a different spot along the wall, far from Drunky McNoSleeves. I checked the monitor again, now more than 80 minutes after my arrival to the pits of humanity, and almost whimpered when I saw A211 glowing up on the board.
For the next 50 minutes I stood against the wall, careful to avoid any physical contact with strangers, and mentally retreated to my happy place, deep within my mind’s eye. When I heard the automated system finally call A229 exactly 2 hours and 11 minutes after arriving, I nearly ran through the room, jumping up and down, like a contestant on The Price’s Right. Unfortunately it was neither Bob Barker or Drew Carey wasn’t there to greet me. I had the most miserable looking middle aged woman in history. Her voice was raspy and her breathe was mentholated as she asked, almost sarcastically, how she could help me. Even though I felt like I had just been in a battle, I sympathized with her and what she had to deal with every day. I happily said hello and informed her I needed to renew my (now expired) license. Her tone did not improve at all despite my chipper introduction, and she was apparently annoyed that I was asking anything at all of her at this point.
I made the decision that this entire process would go better if I maintained a good attitude, and I explained my back story and how I just changed my name at the social security administration last week (read here). I said I had been to the information desk here at DMV last week too and they informed me to just bring my marriage license, birth certificate, expired driver’s license, two forms of proof of address, along with a letter (which I showed DMV last week) stamped and sealed by the SSA saying my name was now changed. “Where’s the second page?” she asked bitterly. “What second page?” I replied. “There is a second page the SSA should have provided, and you don’t have it.” she snidely informed me. I then told her if I had the choice to never drive again or be forced to come back and wait to renew my license again, I’d just never drive. Again. Ever.
She then said, without sympathy, that she could renew the license, but it would not be a the new Federally Approved Identification required no later than December 2014. Whatever lady, just DO something. Anything. She instructed me to sit for my photo. She then instructed me to look at the “blue dot,” oh and not to smile. *Insert F Word here* Great, now for the next four years, I’ll have pissy looking picture on my ID. Awesome. One last thing and then sweet freedom…the eye test.
The machine, right on her desk, was visibly dirty, and I was immediately thankful for my good vision. No part of my face was going to touch this machine; I would just lean in and read the numbers. Blackness- I see nothing. “You have to press your forehead on the white bar,” the woman said, clearly irritated. I looked at the machine and just said in disgust, “I only see a brown bar.” She gave me a “look” as I said a silent prayer and placed my forehead against the g-g-greasy brown bar and then shouted the letters as quick as I could. If not for the knowledge that the floor was probably dirtier than the bar, I may have passed out once my skin sent the signal to my brain that it was touching something that should be white but was now both brown and slippery.
I sat in my car, scrubbing my face and hands and arms with Purrell and made a mental note to burn my clothing when I got home. So, dear reader, take it from me, make sure you go as soon as DMV opens and make sure you have what you need. I barely made it out of there alive. I’ve since doubled my vitamin intake, had a tetanus booster, and am looking into preventative care for my hair and washing with some kind of Lice-Be-Gone shampoo as a preventative measure.