I’m practicing my social networking skills as I stand in line at the DMV. Not with the people here in front of me, but you reading this now. I have always enjoyed observing people in their daily activities.
I agree that cell phone use in public can be very annoying. The reason being that to all but the phone user, it’s a one sided conversation. The very same can be said for people that think out loud while in public. The tallest black woman in the line is also the most vocal. She expresses every thought out loud, even though the person who she came with left. She was not interested in waiting with her and had probably heard how, ‘She’s gots a jobs now and needs to take her ass to work. So’s it’s about time she gots her license.’ as we have all been informed. Although no one seems to respond, this doesn’t stop her from needling the person ahead of her, asking, “Is you on lunch?” The woman is dressed in nurses scrubs with an id tag hanging around her neck and only needs to answer by nodding to the obviousness of the question. The loud thinker also informs people who appears to be jumping the line, “The line is back here. We have all been waiting too! What makes you so special?” The truth is, everyone in line does look pained when a new visitor comes in the door and walks straight to the counter, bypassing the line. In this case her directness serves a purpose for the group, since we are all wondering the same quietly to ourselves.
Every time the door opens everyone turns to look at the reaction of the next victim to walk in. They have a guilty look as everyone stares at them for few seconds and then turn their heads away as the new person settles into line. Or in some cases when discover the length of the wait, they roll their eyes and walk out again, obviously too busy or more likely too impatient to devote an hour of their lives to the privilege of driving legally. North Carolina budget cuts have brought the staff down to three employees in this location, which makes for slow going. The line snakes six feet one way and then the other four times. It has taken me 35 minutes to travel 18 feet. After an hour, I approach the front desk and explain I’m renewing my driver’s license. It feels like being accepted into the Emerald City and then I am graciously allowed into the next room to sit and wait some more.
In the testing room there are many empty seats which makes each one of us who has gotten this far feel very important. Most are careful not to look back at the line like they are on a death march and we have been spared. My number is 186 and I quickly scan the displays to see how long my wait will continue. I half expect the current number to be 12 but I am relieved to see 183 on the sign. The loud thinker is now speaking with an inspector about her needs. The back of her shirt reads, “I’m not a Bitch. I’m THE BITCH. And that’s Miss Bitch to you.” I wonder how she would react if I were to address her in this way. “Excuse me Miss Bitch, you dropped your Social Security Card. Yes, it says so right here, THE BITCH.”
Bing, my number comes up. I read a line of letters, identify some street signs, pay $35 bucks, have my photo taken and I’m done. It seems anticlimactic to have stood in line so long for a process that is over so quickly.