Saturday, August 12, 2006

Horror in a Small Town -- or Hazards of the Department of Licensing

I recently had to brave the wilds of the DOL in a humble quest to renew my driver's license. A request complete with impossible tasks, obsequious kowtowing, terrify officials, and intimidating fellow petitioners.

While I realize that the DOL isn't a favorite place for most of us, I have a particular revulsion for it. I'm not entirely sure why, but the mere site of the place as I'm driving by can make me shudder. Every five years though, I must conquer my terror and venture into the abyss to request a license renewal. Friday afternoon was such a day for me. One that I still hesitate to recall.

I started my afternoon adventure attempting to squeeze into the ridiculous area that they have set aside for parking. I will say no more of this part of the quest other than to note that this must simply be yet another sadistic attempt to determine worthiness. Having gathered my courage, I walked steadily, with head held high and eyes straight ahead, into the building and toward the "take a number" machine. Having gotten my number of "95", I looked up toward the 2 counters made available for the many and varied petitioners, hoping to determine the likelihood of escaping alive in time to cook dinner. The fearsome red numerical display and bored, but malevolent mechanical voice detailing which aspirant needed to head to which counter was terrifyingly clear -- 95's audience was some time away. Pizza was a likely dinner choice.

As I sat, hoping to look both accomplished and patient, I started to look around the building. As was to be expected, the place was devoid of anything remotely interesting. During my absent minded perusal, I happened to see a small, nearly invisible sign which read "Checks and Cash only. Checks may be made out to "DOL"". Oh no. I quickly looked through my bag and, sure enough, the checkbook was missing. Great. I searched again, fruitlessly. There was no help for it, I was going to have to add yet another labor to this quest. Off I went on my search for an ATM machine. I headed first toward an easily accessible bank. No good. Only a "drive-thru" ATM there. (an aside - who decided that *any* of these machines are "drive-thrus"?? My husband at 6'3" with chimpanzee arms has trouble reaching those things, much less the short stubby arms attached to my 5'4" frame) Okay, there was a market that might have a machine. Yes! There it was. I reached into my purse for my ATM card and . . . nothing. No card. There was a moment of panic before I remembered that I'd given the card to my daughter so she'd have some cash for a snack during a break at work. This was starting to look ominous. Were these signs? Was the universe trying to tell me something? I decided that I would not be faint hearted. I would persevere! Even if it meant traveling through our small town at the absolute worst time of day all the way to my house and back (checkbook safely ensconced in purse) to the DOL for another attempt at license renewal.

I marched in more confidently this time. I took yet another number - "111" this time. As it was much closer to closing time, everything and everyone in the building seemed more tense, agitated and shrill. The atmosphere was definitely deteriorating. The older couple seated next to me, newcomers to the area, suddenly realized the "cash or check only" sign. Panic ensued. The toddler, who had before been content to follow around his brother (albeit attached by a "leash" to his mother) had finally had enough. He attempted time and again to test the length of the leash, each time shrieking after failing to achieve any further distance. Scowls appeared on brows and girls whined to their father's about their test results. It was getting ugly.

To allay the mounting terror any of my readers, I will tell you that after much time and travail, I did indeed prove worthy of a license renewal. I will leave out the more harrowing elements of the quest, such as having to answer "add 10 lbs" to the question of whether height and weight were correct and the beauty advice of the person taking the photograph ("I like the red hair (my natural color) better from 5 years ago" and the more humiliating "no one even needs to see this picture ever"), and just leave you with the knowledge that I prevailed. It's over. The world is safe again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just loved the DOL experience.
love mom