Sunday, March 06, 2005

"Call it....Pointless!"

"I've been to hell. I spell it...
I spell it DMV
Anyone that's been there
knows precisely what I mean
Stood there and I've waited
and choked back the urge to scream..."

---Primus, "DMV"

On Friday, I decided that it was time to renew my state ID, and headed for the DMV. Now, as that was all I needed, I decided to hit the mall and try one of the "DMV Express" stations. In theory, this is supposed to make your DMV experience faster and more convienant.

Uh huh.

At first, all seemed well. The place was nearly deserted, with only three people in line ahead of me. All were there to renew IDs or licenses. The paperwork went quickly (thanks to the super-fast Paperwork Lady behind the counter), and I sat down to reapply some Deep Amythest lipstick in preperation for the dreaded ID photo.

In due course, my name was called. Although I know, from years of experience, that attempting to look good for the beforementioned dreaded photo is about as futile as putting Rush Limbaugh on the Atkins diet, I still take a moment to check my hair in the small, dirty mirror graciously provided by the government for my use. Convinced that my appearance was at least passable, I stood up against the silly blue curtain and smiled.

Nothing happened.

The man behind the counter (who I will refer to from this point on as "Doofus") looked stunned for a minute. He then states the glaringly obvious: "The flash didn't go off." Yes, I noticed that. It takes him another minute to decide to call in his supervisor (hereafter referred to as "Minute Man"). Minute Man rushes in, listens to Doofus' unnecessarily-long explanation of what happened (hey, Doofus: "The flash didn't go off" would work in that situation, too) before telling Doofus, predictably, to take another picture.

Picture #2: still no flash. Doofus and Minute Man look bewildered. They reminded me of the first time I cooked chili at my in-laws' home and asked them where they kept the chili powder. My in-laws never cook...and had never even HEARD of chili powder. Doofus and Minute Man had, apparently, never had this problem or even concieved of it before now.

They begin to whisper in hushed tones, while I am still standing there, back up against the silly, smelly blue curtain. I cleared my throat, but they ignored me. Finally I said, "Look, guys, I have MS. Do I have to stand here while you figure this out, or can I sit down for awhile?" Doofus defers to Minute Man. Minute Man nods, and then quickly goes into the back room, leaving Doofus to continue to stare helplessly at the flashless camera.

After a few more minutes, it becomes pretty clear that Minute Man isn't returning any time soon. Doofus makes a call. The person on the other end also, clearly, has never faced this problem or has no idea what to do about it. I'm voting for the latter.

Doofus then picks up a small screwdriver and begins POKING the camera with it. He never actually turns any of the screws...he just pokes the camera. I'm not sure what this is supposed to accomplish. Meanwhile, the Paperwork Lady is still taking applications. The line behind me for photos is now growing longer and longer. No one thinks to inform anyone that the camera isn't working.

Minute Man then makes another appearance. Like The Flash, he zooms in, pushes a few buttons on the computer, and zap! He's gone again, leaving an increasingly-overwhelmed Doofus in his wake. Doofus calls me up to the blue curtain again. I check my hair, blot my lipstick, and smile.

Photo #3: still no flash.

I am now finding amusement in the fact that although Doofus doesn't know what's wrong, how to fix it or how long it will take to remedy the problem, he does not stray from the accepted DMV script. After every photo he says, "Thank you, it will be a few minutes." It's like an SNL skit at this point.

Doofus now makes yet another phone call. This one, at least, appears to be productive, if for no other reason than the person on the other end tells Doofus to stop poking the camera with a screwdriver. Every few minutes, Minute Man rushes in, asks, "Is it fixed yet?" and zooms out. He's a great asset to the government, I'm sure.

Doofus, at the behest of the person he's called out of desperation, pushes more buttons on the computer and this time, on the camera itself. My name is called again. Hair, lipstick, smile...I'm ready.

Photo #4: Flash finally goes off. "It will be a few minutes." Sure, it will be!

I sit down amongst the growing crowd, as Paperwork Lady is STILL taking applications. There are now probably a dozen or so people behind me in line. This is a small DMV station, with only about five chairs and little room to stand. People are beginning to get irritated. They keep asking me, "How long have you been here?" Answer: over an hour already. I am now irriated, too.

Doofus calls my name. Elated, thinking "This is it!" I rush to the counter.

No such luck. The photo is "too light." I ask to see it. "Too light" is quite the understatement. The only thing on my face that is visible in the photo is the Deep Amythest lipstick. I am rethinking the shade.

I approach Paperwork Lady and ask her if I can just have my check back and I can return some other day. No can do..I'm already "processed," whatever that means. I gather I am now some form of DMV Velveeta. Not even Alcatraz was this inescapable, it seems. To make matters worse, there is someone sitting in my chair...ON MY COAT. I have to argue with the idiot to get him to move. I point out that my coat is under his ass (ewww) and that that particular seat is reserved for the disabled. This mental midget actually accuses me of not being disabled...despite the fact that I am limping along with a cane. The woman sitting next to him (who looked for all the world like comedienne Mo'nique) barked at him to "get out of the f-ing chair!" and the guy moved, glaring at me all the while. I thanked the lady. She went back to reading her Harlequin romance novel. I am beginning to wish that I had brought a book, too.

Who knows what Doofus (and possibly, Minute Man) have been doing while I was dealing with Paperwork Lady and my now unwearable coat...but they seem confident that the problem is at long last solved. My name is called. I check my hair, but choose not to put on anymore lipstick. Smile!

Photo #5: Flash goes off. "It will be a few minutes." Don't patronize me, pal.

As I sit back down, it comes to my attention that a few people in the ever-growing crowd think it is MY fault that there's a hold-up. I can see where they might believe this, as no one at the DMV has made any effort to inform the waiting throng as to the reason for the delay. A few snide comments are made my way. I ignore them. I just wanted a damn ID!

After another few minutes of Doofus' deer-in-the-headlights stare and Minute Man's marathon DMV name is called AGAIN. I no longer give a damn what I look like, and I'm not bothering to smile.

Photo #6: Flash goes off. "It will be a few minutes." Whatever you say, asshole.

The line for pictures is now out the door, and still, Paperwork Lady continues taking applications without letting anyone know what's going on. I am reminded of the "I Love Lucy" episode involving the candy factory. Bad I am reminded that I haven't eaten in hours. I've gone from zero to starving in 60 seconds. Great.

My name is called. I am shown the ID. Better, but still light. And my hair is over my eye. Damn. Should've looked in the mirror. Doofus instructs me to stand at the blue curtain again. I am beginning to hate this curtain. I wish I had a pair of scissors. I loop my hair behind my ears and glare at Doofus.

Photo #7: Flash goes off. "It will be a few minutes." Kiss my ass.

I am searching through my purse for a Tic Tac, hoping to ward off starvation for another "few minutes," when my name is called AGAIN.

Hallelujah! I've never been so happy to get a crappy state ID in my life. I don't even care that it looks like I have four chins and my glasses are crooked...well, it don't care very much. I grab the ID and run, lest Minute Man zoom in and deem it not good enough. I push my way through the crowd and I am free at last! Free at last!

I hate the DMV.


At 6:25 PM, Blogger Angel said...

I'm truly sorry, but......BAHAHAHAHAHA I love your sense of humor!! And the current book I'm reading, has been read primarily while waiting for some kind of appointment. Glad you finally got your ID!

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Ron Southern said...

That's funny, even if it does make for a nervous breakdown for one and all. Most of us have sat through such nonsense. It's (probably) not the clerks' fault that the camera gets futzed up, but why oh why can't they ever be communicative and spread just a little good cheer to smooth things over while they're going wrong. I've always found that people will put up with shit like that much better if the clerk was cognizant of what fucking planet he/she is on and, as you suggest, go about politely and tell the other customers what's going on. Why is it OF NO CONSEQUENCE WHATEVER to clerks if maybe you need to go on instead of staring at their incompetent behavior for a long time!

At 12:37 AM, Blogger Zen Angel said...


At 4:37 PM, Blogger Pixie LaRouge said...

I am ROLLING over here!!!! Can you please put a potty warning before writing such witty, scathing prose? Thankfully, I had just gone pee, or you'd owe me a pair of jeans (and a new chair). BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Thanks for the gut-busting laugh of the day :)

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Aunt Ruth said...

Kudos, for not beating him to death. Why do you think the last time I got an ID it had been expired for a year. Because I hate the DMV and everwhere I go to buy cigarettes or alcohol already knows me. Lmao


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