Going to the DMV is about as much fun as getting a root canal. Not that I’ve ever had one, but the contorted grimaces of agony I’ve seen on people afterwards pretty much match those who have spent an entire morning dealing with people who hate you at the DMV. Still, the ruca and I had go. Not only had the plates expired a month before, but I’d been walking around with an expired driver’s license (which apparently, hadn’t been a problem, seeing as no one cards me for a glass of wine anymore).
As soon as we got there, we waited in line to wait for a number to go sit down and wait some more. Some dude with an angry face like a rowled up pug was the security guard. No taller than five feet (which was probably why he was so pissy), he glared at all of us as if we were conspiring terrorists with a nefarious plot to blow up the DMV (one could only fantasize), instead of agro locals who’d all been forced to throw our coffees away at the door. I noticed a very confused mentally ill woman talking to herself as she lugged a tattered blue suitcase that looked like it was from her hitchhiking days in the 60s. The guard growled at her to wait outside until the inside line had moved along, which seemed to terribly upset her. The ruca and I looked at each other. Why does the DMV seem to bring out the worst in people?
They were calling groups A-G with a number like B-25, a random system with about as much rhyme and reason as a Bingo game. We took our seats and waited…and waited. Next to us sat the poor lady with the suitcase who kept asking herself “Why, why, why?” without an answer. Suddenly, the ruca gasped. “We can take care of both registration and your license renewal at the same window, right?”
“Of course we can,” I scoffed. “This is the DM—” Immediately sensing the irony of my words, I shot out of my chair back to the info window to go ask. The only thing more tedious than waiting in line is being told to wait in it again.
Below my eye level in my peripheral vision, I could see someone shouting at me to “sit down.” I debated validating the security guard’s ego by giving him any attention, but decided against it. I had every right as a human being to ask a question without being ordered to “sit” like I was some kind of dog—he was the one with the ugly pug face. He barked at me again. “Sit down!”
“No!” I snarled back at him, swallowing down my boiling temper. “I am not going to sit down! I have a question for this lady.” My space at the info window suddenly opened up, and although the lady assured me that I wouldn’t have to wait in two lines, I was still fuming when I slummed back into my seat.
“Everything okay?” the ruca asked.
“Oh yeah,” I blasted, feeling slightly delirious. “Just having a jolly ol’ time at the DMV.”
Back to the waiting game, not a single D was called for nearly 40 minutes. Growing antsy, we bonded with people around us, who all mostly had Ds and were just as irritated. “Do you have a D?” “How ‘bout you?” “No, they haven’t called a single one.” The guard squinted at us, suspicious of an arising revolt which wasn’t too far off. In fact, we’d grown quite rowdy, hollering “What the fuck?!” every time another B was called. When they finally started calling the Ds, we knew the employees had finally gotten the point and that they in fact did not want their chairs hurled across the room. We cheered madly. Yes, we were that obnoxious crowd. Don’t mess with the D group.
When our D-72 was finally called, the ruca and I jumped out of our chairs and flew to window 19 before anyone could change their minds. A young woman with red and green glittered acrylic tips looked up at us and rolled her eyes. Our thrill at being called was short-lived as we handed over our paperwork along with several hundred bucks for registration, late fees, an unpaid parking ticket with another late fee, and whatever other annoying fee they felt like tagging on, like a human existence fee. My stomach was growling terribly for breakfast as we finished up, but there was one last line to wait in which was also the moment of truth: the photo line for my new license.
Fluffing my hair and glossing my lips, I prayed for that perfect shot. The suitcase lady was behind me again knocking madly on her head, which were my sentiments exactly, but I forced myself to focus; I had to take a good picture—it would be the face I showed for the next four years! When I finally got to the front, a lady with a terrible red dye job and jingle bell earrings snapped at me, “Stand there and smile! Okay on three: One, two, three!” I waited…no flash. I held my perfectly posed smile open revealing a mouthful of teeth…nothing. When the count had finally reached about seven or so, I dropped my frozen face to ask her if she’d taken it when—flash! “Thank you. Next!”
“Wait!” I shrieked. “I think I might’ve blinked, or made a face...can I see it?”
“No,” she said. “New regulations—no one can see their photos.” She looked at her screen at the top-secret picture. “You look…fine.”
“But I’m gonna have it for the next four years! Can’t I at least see it so I can maybe retake it?”
She shook her head, making her earrings jingle. “Sorry,” she smacked, unconvincingly. “NEXT!”
Helpless against a seemingly impossible system, the ruca and I shuffled out, ready for a late breakfast at our fave spot, and micheladas to wash the bitter taste out of our mouths. (The rest of our afternoon had all been determined that first hour.) Although we'd given the DMV almost three hours of our morning, it didn't seem to matter now. We would continue on with our day, and the DMV would continue being…well, the DMV.
© Sarah C. Jiménez 2012, All Rights Reserved