On Wednesday morning I realized I hadn't updated the site in a few days, and what's worse, had nothing much to say. I needed a jump start, a controversy, a ways and means of identifying the ills of society and proof of how big government can only reinforce the degradation of the common man.
Naturally, I headed to the DMV.
My wife pleaded with me not to go. "Can't you just call them? It seems like a simple problem," she said. I shook off her naiveté.
"Some things a man has to do in person," I told her, wiping a lone tear from her eye.
I'm no coward, but I’m no fool either. I went in heavily armed. I had with me documentation proving ownership of the vehicle and residence, a copy of the bill in question, and a Henry Kissinger book as large as the bible to read as the hours passed by.
To prime the pump, I chose a busy urban location. Both the parking lot and waiting area were full, and the first clerk I saw looked suitably harried and close to violence.
Ahh, the sweet smell of success.
I took a ticket. Number 318. Perfect. I was a few hours away from a years worth of material.
Except the board on the wall said they were already helping number 317. Well, that has to be a glitch, I thought. Or better yet, maybe it was one of those things where they ignore your number and spend fifty minutes processing Hmong driving exams while the line grows and festers.
Three pages into the Kissinger book they called my number.
I was not deterred. The clerk ‘helping’ me had yet to look up from his word-search book. Having been a civil servant for six long years, I could have tipped the scales in my favor by opening with the classic rant “I pay taxes. I pay your salary”.
[for those who still wonder why the city and I . . . divorced,: “Yeah, well I pay taxes too lady. Which means, when you think about it, I’m paying myself to sit here and listen to you blather. Which of us has the worse end of the deal?”]
Instead, I played it straight. I outlined how I had renewed my plates online six weeks prior, but had yet to receive the stickers in the mail. I had just begun to pull out my paperwork when an envelope of stickers landed in front of me.
“There ya go. Have a nice day,” the clerk said, never once looking up from his puzzle book.
[what’s the deal with that ? I mastered word searches when I was in the fourth grade. Move on to bigger and more challenging things. Like Archie comic books]
I was stunned. This could not be. No wait, and a quick and easy solution to my problem? Impossible.
Undeterred, I took the offensive. Surely there was some reason for the delay. An outdated address, a snafu in the payment, disease, pestilence? I have paperwork here to show . . .
That slowly brought the clerks head up. Shock was painted clearly on his face. Too him, I was the equivalent of a terrorist who refused a free pass out of Guantanamo Bay.
“It’s fine. Have a good day sir.”
And just like that, I was defeated. Minimized. Reduced to nothing but the freak in the break room who defends the DMV over lunch by claiming he’s never had a problem with the service.
In March my wife’s plates are up for renewal. When the time comes, I will approach that vile place without a book, without ID, and with only the vaguest notion of the last digit of the license plate.
I will get my story.