Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Department of Motor Vehicles

Is there any place on earth more dreadful than the Department of Motor Vehicles? While I personally do not believe in hell, I think that if such a place did exist it would have a lot of similarities to the DMV. Really unless you are a 16 year old who was lucky enough to earn his or her drivers license, there are very few good reasons to visit the establishment. Most trips to the DMV are simply a hassle-replacing a lost or stolen driver's license, reinstating a drivers license taken away for some unfortunate reason or in my case getting your vehicle registered in a new state. All scenarios will usually involve long lines, cranky worker bees, and large fees.

Today I had the displeasure of visiting the El Cerrito DMV to register our car in California. My husband had already taken a stab at obtaining the necessary document earlier this morning, but left empty handed because he lacked some of the needed paperwork. I therefore had to return with my squirmy Evan in tow. I arrived to find our branch of the DMV looks very similar to any other government building I have visited throughout my life. A dingy old building which clearly hasn't been renovated or updated since 10-15 years before I myself obtained a Learner's Permit. The line to simply obtain a number was out the door. I immediately realized that forgetting the stroller at home was a bigger deal than I initially thought. I also saw that El Cerrito's Department of Motor Vehicles is blessed with the same shall we say, colorful characters as any other DMV across the country. What is it about the DMV that attracts the worst of our society? The folks who wreak of cigarette smoke, swear into their cell phones and pick their noses in public. I don't know. But this office had it all.

We waited in line. Evan did surprisingly well, munching on a piece of dried mango and charming the people around us. As we got closer to the head of the line, a fragile looking elderly woman dressed up in a blue polyester suit circa 1980 was escorted to the front underneath a sign that read " For those with appointments or the disabled". The woman behind me snickered then blurted to the DMV employee "Is that woman disabled? Why is she going to the front of the line?" The worker responded "Yes this line is for the disabled". The woman then snarled "She ain't disabled, I don't see no cane. Where is her cane if she's disabled?" The worker shrugged her off. Now I must admit, I was a little frightened at the idea of this very old looking woman possibly renewing her drivers license, but still, lets give the lady a break, she must have been 85 years old. Do long lines somehow omit the value of respecting your elders?

Finally we received a number and were waved to the seating area to stare at a television screen willing it to display my number- B158. We waited and waited. Evan started playing his favorite game "chase me". We had an audience and people laughed at our battle of wills. As I chased Evan past the same group of patrons for the 15th time a man looked at me and said "you have your hands full with that one!" "Yes" I agreed "This is his favorite game". "Him??" he replied. "Nah lady, that looks like a girl to me, shit". Ummm.... well he is my son and I probably spend 1/3 of my life changing his diapers, so I should know. Okay, mental note to self, I really do need to cut Evan's curly locks, but did that guy have to be so rude? Did he have to swear? Oh were at the DMV. I forgot.

Our turn arrived and I had to fork over $1501 (including a late fee of $273 for being ten days overdue on registering our vehicle after the move). I am now the proud owner of California license plates. Hurray.

As we were walking back through the parking lot and I was thanking my lucky stars that I finished in time to pick up Zachary from preschool we passed a woman talking loudly into her cell phone "Your a poor ass excuse for a dad" (she repeated this about five times), then "Your going to hell"... maybe he was meeting her at the DMV.

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