Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! So… Does it ever seem like “the powers that be” are conspirin’ against you? Yeah… Me too. As an example, I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles the other day. I tried to use their automated, state-of-the-art phone system to make an appointment at the closest DMV office. With all the tax money they used to pay for the system that should be a breeze, right? Not! First, I had to “press one for English,” then press two for “Are you sure?” followed by three for “OK; if you’re positive.” From there, I got a list of useless prompts tryin’ to connect me with all the wrong people, finally followed by “To repeat this message, press 1.” After pressin’ 1 again, I was greeted by the mechanical voice statin’, “I’m sorry… The number you have reached is not in service. Please hang up and try again.”
Some of you may have gathered from this column that I’m not the most patient person on the planet, to put it mildly. OK, I thought… I’ll go online and make an appointment. I’m somewhat computer literate, so I logged on and pulled up the DMV’s website. I filled in all the required blanks, but there was no blank for the office I wanted the appointment at, and it kept makin’ me appointments with an office at the far end of the next county. Frustrated, but still not incited to the point of physical violence, I jumped on the bike and headed down to the closest DMV office.
As I approached the entry doors, the line was backed up outside and clear to the parking lot. It appeared that some of the folks weren’t there for actual DMV business, but had traveled great distances to enter their children in a screaming contest that I’d unwittingly arrived just in time for. They squirmed and wriggled in their mothers’ arms, remindin’ me of a National Geographic film I’d seen years ago about termite larva. I stood behind the cacophony of screamin’, snot-flingin’, squirmin’ mini-humanity, and wished that this line was in front of Planned Parenthood several years ago.
After what seemed like hours, and what actually was hours, I finally made it inside, got a number from the clerk and found one of the only two crumblin’ plastic chairs remainin’ unoccupied. So much for improvin’ the infrastructure, I thought, ploppin’ down in the creakin’ Tupperware relic. I looked at the number I clutched tightly in my hand and it was G-105. As I sat wonderin’ how long my wait would be, the same mechanical voice that had greeted me on the telephone announced, “now serving G-03 at window 15.”
Several more hours went by, and as much as I hated the thought of givin’ up my chair now that my ass had formed what I feared might be a permanent attachment to it, I really needed to find the restroom after half a pot of coffee that mornin’. I stood, my back creakin’ with the effort, and shambled off down the hall to begin my search. I found the door with the little man and woman on it right away, but they were covered with an “Out of order” sign that appeared to have been taped there sometime durin’ the Bush administration. Not to be denied relief, I spotted a large potted ficus in the corner of the hallway and proceeded to spend several minutes closely inspectin’ it’s higher branches and leaves for abnormalities—hopefully drawin’ attention away from the root area.
As I was about to forcibly remove a young man in a hoody from my recently vacated seat, I heard my number called. “Now serving G-105 at window 24.”
I started to wind my way through the screamin’ contest that was now in full swing in front of the counter, caught my boot-toe on a partially collapsed chair and sprawled full length on the floor amid the melted candy, spilled soda and the nose-borne DNA of every child that’s been there for the last 10 years. Disgusted and skinned up, I pushed myself to my feet only to find my way blocked by the biggest fellow I’d ever seen, his mobility scooter strained to the breakin’ point as he made his way slowly down the aisle in front of me. “Excuse me,” I said, tryin’ to make my way around him. “Comin’ through!”
For all the good that did, I might as well have been shoutin’, “I’m fine back here, buddy; just take your time!”
As I finally pushed my way past him he tried to swerve his scooter into me, but after years of splittin’ lanes I knew what to expect and dodged the maneuver easily. As I passed him, I hoped he’d have to use the restroom real soon. I slid up to window 24 just as the mechanical voice said “Now serving G-106 at window 24.”
“I’m number G-105,” I told the clerk, handin’ her my ticket. She popped her chewin’ gum, looked at my shirt that was now covered with filth from my recent bout with the floor, and said, “Sorry, dude. You’re too late. You’ll have to get another number.”
Yeah, that was quite a day… Sorry about the warm beer, but I just picked it up on my way home from the county jail.