Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

A small cultural aggravation

Last month I received notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that it was time to renew my driver license. I had already done this the automatic method twice. So this time a written test is required. I remember the common sense nature of the questions they ask, but I obtained a book anyway. I immediately called for an appointment. This is a convenience that DMV provides so that I need not stand in that horrendous line the curls around the building every day. The soonest I was able to obtain an appointment was six week hence. I took it. Yesterday that day arrived and though I almost had forgotten my appointment, I arrived at the office 45 minutes early so as to have a little time to cram while waiting. But they took me early. I must say I was feeling rather smug when I stepped on the red carpet (yes, they actually have a red carpet for those who have made an appointment). While the other line curled down to the horizon (well, almost), here I was getting attention. But I soon found that this was a very special day--the computers were down! I don't mean the computers at the local office, but the DMV throughout the state of California. They weren't quite sure how to handle the situation. They did give me a vision exam, and someone even pointed me into the testing room. I breezed through the exam of obvious questions like an educated man being insulted with common sense questions, and I failed. What!? How could I fail that simple test. Boy am I embarrassed! After waiting for a while they sent me home, telling me to come back the next day with my paperwork in my hand.

Today I awakened a little after six, my sweet wife prodding me. After a shower and a little bit of cereal I was off to beat the crowd before the office opened. Okay, so much for that Idea. There was the line curling back toward the door after reaching to the end of the building. Couldn't I butt in front because I had made a reservation? I looked and found the red carpet conspicuously empty and all the people in line were headed for the only window that was open. It was labeled "appointments" but all personnel were obviously ignoring it. I dutifully waited for 65 minutes to get to the window. I was honestly thankful that my arthritis was at its minimal discomfort level, otherwise I am not sure I could have survived the hour standing in line. The next holding tank was a room with lunch room chairs and I could now sit. Everyone waited until a computer voice called his number "F014 now being served at window number one". Bingo! That's me. My thumb print was electrically recorded, my eyes tested (even though that had been done yesterday already). Now I paid my $31 fee, and I was qualified to wait in the next line to have my picture taken. Now I am thinking I understand why driver license photos are notoriously lousy. By the time the potential driver arrives at the camera he feels that he has been dragged through a keyhole, and smiling is the last thing he thinks of doing. I was determined to fool them this time. I remembered to smile and I ruined the whole game.

Next it was the written test again. Another line. The guy at the window wanted to know when I had taken the failed test. I told him "Yesterday." "But the receipt has today's date." I told him that I was here yesterday when the computers were down, and nobody knew what he was doing. "That's not very nice to say." "Well, okay, some people didn't know what they were doing, because other people were telling them what to do. I heard them. Somehow I got sent here to take the test without paying my fee." Now I was wondering if my unkind remarks were going to prejudice this tester when I brought the test back. No, I'm sure it doesn't work like that. But I had better spend a little more time with these "obvious" questions than I did yesterday. I only missed one of the common sense questions. So now I have a temporary license that will sustain me until the new one arrives in the mail. Wait, I already have a valid license until my birthday, October 21. Wait again! The way bureaucracy moves, I had better hold on to this temporary license because my valid license may expire before I see the new one in the mail. Making an appointment doesn't always work. Instead of wasting one morning I wasted two mornings because I had made an appointment on the fated day the computers were down. I remember George Carlin saying, "The computers are down? Awwwwww. Let's cheer them up!"

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