Monday. My one day off, and Gerry takes great delight in informing me my frenemy D. also has it off, so will probably call me. Damn it.
11 a.m. She hasn’t called yet. I’m halfway through the second episode of a Grimm binge when I suddenly remember it was my birthday a couple weeks ago; which is only significant because I have to renew my driver’s license this year. Double damn it.
I briefly consider doing it next week, when it’s supposed to be 55 degrees instead of today’s 72, but who am I fooling? I pay my car insurance two weeks before it’s due, my conscience would never let me knowingly drive around a week with an expired license. It’s not easy being such an upstanding citizen.
It won’t be so bad, I think. Our DMV was revamped and streamlined, so wait times have been drastically reduced. On my last visit I was in and out in no time.
Sure enough, I wait a relatively painless 30 minutes before my number is called. I love my DMV, how many people can say that, am I right?
As I take my seat in front of the clerk and state my business, I’ve barely finished saying “renewal” when she cuts in “Oh, that’s the one thing we don’t do here.” It must be a common mistake, because she’s already handing me a paper with printed directions to the license branch. Triple damn it.
As I drive the five miles or so, I think “Maybe it won’t be as crazy, if they only handle licences.” Hint: That was massive foreshadowing.
Holy hell. I can’t believe the chaos that greets me as I walk in. There’s a security guard handing out numbers to new arrivals, and that’s where any semblance of organization ends. At the nice DMV there are big monitors everywhere showing you exactly where you are in the queue. Here, we all sit waiting for a woman at the front of the room to call us up in increments of five, whereupon we have to stand in a line that moves so slowly it could be measured in darwins. There are monitors evident, but seem to be purely decorative since they’re not on.
There doesn’t seem to be a seat that isn’t right next to someone who reeks powerfully of cigarette smoke. And if you still aren’t convinced this is the fourth circle of hell, there isn’t a wi-fi or cellphone signal to be found anywhere in the room. Worst. Vacation. Ever.
But wait, there’s more. The woman who was our only hope to progress through this ordeal stopped calling numbers twenty minutes ago. Look, there she is with a purse over her shoulder like she’s leaving. People who just arrived have no idea what’s going on and get in line (which has actually visibly dwindled) unprompted. In fact, the older couple next to me, who I clearly see have a number ten digits after me, suddenly decide to just get in line. It’s all I can do to contain my seething rage.
I gradually become aware of discontented murmurs. I hear more than one person ask someone near them, “Are they calling numbers?” The woman who took the seat next to me asks me, and I share my observations. Two guys in front of us hear me and turn around, obviously equally fed up. Suddenly, in a united front, our spontaneous little group decides to storm the castle (if only we could be as proactive about our government).
We all get in line, which draws the attention of the security guard, who follows us and starts checking numbers and sending people back to their seats. Oh, so SOMEONE thinks we’re still using that system. We all sit back down, no less unhappy, but a few minutes later another woman comes out and resumes calling numbers. As it turns out, all members of the Great Queue Revolt of 2016 are back in line again.
I don’t think we were being unreasonable. But, speaking for myself, the perception of no one being in control or knowing what’s going on is deeply unsettling. I’ll be among the first to die in the zombie apocalypse, I know.
Progress, but not out of the woods yet. Fortunately, the young kid in front of me decides to strike up a conversation. Something about me makes strangers share their life story every time I’m in a queue. (Save your money, NSA. Stick your terrorist suspects in a line with me, I’ll have them singing like a canary inside of ten minutes.) He’s lived in Colorado for five years. He moved from Compton, so Aurora is much nicer. He fell in with bad people and did drugs, and ended up in jail after being tasered by police. Now he’s straightening his life out. All this by his current age of 20.
I don’t mind the TMI though, because next thing I know we’re next to get called to the counter.
You know how you get stuck in a traffic jam after an accident, and by the time you get to the head of the line you breeze by and you wonder what took everyone else so long? That’s how I feel when I get through my business in about five minutes, including eye exam. WHAT has everyone else been doing up here?
I reunite with my fellow insurrectionists at the photo waiting area, or what I call in my head “the victory side.” We all exchange relieved smiles. Strange bedfellows indeed. (The previously mentioned older couple is here too. They do not get to share in our fellowship.)
My whole visit took maybe an hour fifteen, but what with all the disorganization and injustice happening, there was definitely some time distortion going on.
Not much else to share except the selfie I took out of sheer boredom and lack of internet. (No, I don’t normally wear glasses. But I do have astigmatism and I was damned if I was going to make it through this crap only to fail the eye exam.)
Would I have rather spent the day with D? What makes her a frenemy is that’s hard to say.