Scenes from the DMV


Now Playing: Seems Like a Long Time, by Rod Stewart. “War time is only the other side of peace time, But if you’ve ever seen how wars are won, You know what it’s like to wish peace would come, And don’t it seem like a long, Seem like a long time, seem like a long, long time.”

Of course Rod probably didn’t spend many mornings in the DMV. Or he’d know what a long time really seems like.

We tried to warn Austin about the DMV. But I’m not sure he was ready for the experience. Here’s part of what happened:

We got there about 8:15 or so, and walked up to the desk behind only two people. Cake, I thought. The wait won’t be bad. Wrong. As the clerk was waiting on the woman in front of us, a New Jersey-ite who needed a North Carolina license, I peeked into the waiting room. SRO city.

Austin found a metal chair, I sat on the floor beside him. (He wasn’t being rude, I preferred the floor, or standing, to an extended stay in a metal chair). We had ticket B316. They were on B303. Which seemed pretty good. Except that in between all the B-tickets, they waited on lots of C, D, F and A tickets. Especially A tickets.

Sitting across from us were a brunette and blonde, noticeable mainly because they talked continuously. Especially the brunette. Especially the brunette (emphasis intentional). They must have talked for about an hour until the blonde’s ticket was called. I think she was an A.

Good, I thought. A little peace. But then this guy, who looked to be about 40 or so, struck up a conversation with her. He was wearing an orange alligator shirt, khaki shorts and cordovan loafers with no socks. No kidding. He looked like a ’70s-era fratty bagger. The kind I hated at Carolina. Anyway, he gets Bruney going again, and she doesn’t come up for air. Finally, he asks her to save his seat while he goes to the car to get his iPad. Which he doesn’t even turn on. Or open. He just carried it with him. But then a teenage punk took the seat between them. More on him later.

Sitting beside Austin, a seat over, was this mom who managed to take up more than her share of seats with all the crap she’d brought to the office (and keep in mind, seats were at a premium). Her own daughter had to sit across the room from her. In addition, she got up  four times, climbing over Austin each time, to go to the bathroom, her car and to the trashcan. Why the trashcan? Because first she did her bills. Then she made a handwritten spreadsheet of them. Then she cleaned out her purse. Then she cleaned out a bag she’d brought along. (And to be fair, she offered to clear one of the chairs she’d taken so I could sit beside Austin. I couldn’t accept, the space was too tight and I can’t stand having things close in on me.) More on her later, too.

At one point when Bruney was talking, a woman came in with her husband and daughter. The woman clutched a towel to her face the whole time. I’m not sure if she was worried about getting germs or spreading them. But I didn’t feel too comfortable about it.

In front of us was a woman, whose dangly wide gold bands nearly covered the tattoos on her wrist. Nearly. She had a voice like a trucker. Except raspier. She was there with her two daughters, one with a nose piercing and the other with one of those WWJD bracelets. She kept telling them, “I mowed the grass and now I have green feet.” At least four times.

Then there was the couple that came in. They were very pale, wearing jeans. He had one of those curly oily perms. They were quiet, seemed nice enough, but he’d obviously forgotten something he needed. No problem, they had plenty of time for a friend to bring it. About 10 minutes later, the friend showed up. With rolled up jeans and bare feet.

Back to the punk, about 18 or 19, sitting between Bruney and the fratty-bagger. His first words were to ask his brother, “Can you go get me some dip?” And he wasn’t talking Helluva Good french onion, either. Then he started talking to Bruney and the fratty-bagger about why he was there. Turns out he’d just gotten a ticket for driving without having his license with him. He explained he was innocent. They night before he’d gotten the ticket he’d been pulled by a state trooper. At 2:30 or 3 in the morning. The trooper searched his car. And kicked his wallet out of it during the search. The next day, he’d stopped to check on a friend who’d had an accident and the cop there asked to see his license. Which he, of course, didn’t have since he didn’t have his wallet. Bruney and the fratty-bagger quit talking then.

We finally got called back. That’s when we ran into the crazy mom with all the trash. Turns out we hadn’t even seen crazy yet. Her daughter, who seemed fairly normal, passed the various tests. The examiner, who looked like Arwen, the janitor on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, only shorter, brought her to the station where they took photos for the licenses. Crazy Mom was just getting started. She took out a camera, too. She wanted a photo of the examiner and Normal Daughter, who took this a lot better than I would have. Arwen went along with it as well.

Which meant that the most normal person we encountered during our more-than-three-hour ordeal was Jersey Woman. Who was just pissed to be there.

If that ain’t normal, I don’t know what is.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” _ Carl Sagan

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