Department of Many Vexations

The highlight of the trip came when it was Gram’s turn to get her picture taken. This is a woman whose hands fly to her hip as her right foot juts out forward to a point and smiles like she’s Monroe or Hepburn when she thinks she sees a camera. After two pictures she found appalling, and trying to explain to her the best way to go about having her picture taken, I finally stood her where she had to go, and smushed her face around like putty with my fingers until she had a devilish smirk and no teeth showing.

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Unlike most people, I usually have a good time at the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, the last six out of seven times I’ve been to the DMV it has been an experience. I started at my last job as a paraprofessional, someone who works in class with special needs students, for the ten years before that I always worked in an office, typically at the front desk. It comes with the territory of having a large personality and the ability to talk to anyone/anything. I’ve seen paint react to me talking to the walls, so I’m convinced I must have the true gift of gab. Working with students in a classroom was something new and different, and I truly loved the whole experience. Being a part time paraprofessional doesn’t pay very much, not that being a full time one pays great either, but it certainly pays more than what part timers make; which meant when the director of special services asked me to help out in the office during the school year I said certainly faster than I could think about what this would entail. Soon after school filing became working in the summer, when I was offered the position to drive the special needs students who attended the summer program. By the fall, I was offered the position to be the van driver throughout the school year as well as work in the office. The job change meant I would no longer be working in the classroom with students, and a two dollar raise. Since the second grade my goal had been to move out, so naturally I took the raise and the job change. This was back in 2013.

What no one knew over the summer when I was transporting children was that you had to have a commercial driver’s license, with passenger and school endorsements, to being transporting them. Right away I got my CDL permit, hit the books, the doctor’s office, and the finger print place to obtain my CDL. One Saturday, I don’t remember the specific date, I went to the DMV early to beat the crowds, the woman and the police officer both unfortunately directed me to the back of a two and a half hour line. So I waited, and waited, and eventually started talking to the other people in line. This one young man, a year or two younger than me, wearing a purple hoodie, with hood up, spent the second hour in line telling me how he had been driving for two years without a license, that his family lived in another country and owned a massive chain of restaurants, and when it was his turn to go up to the counter, left me with his number. Who else goes to the DMV and gets a number? Really, I’d like to know… it can’t only be me!

When it was my turn at the counter I told the woman why I was there to which she replied, “You’re in the wrong line. Go around the back of the building to the side door. You have to take your test back there. Didn’t anyone tell you?” Instead of explaining that two people told me I had to be on this line, that I spent the past hour being trapped into getting picked up, and that she could wait in the next line in Hell, I turned and headed toward the exit. The young Middle Eastern man looked at me and pointed to the seat next to him. I shook my head and said, “Wrong line.” He looked perplexed, but when he saw me heading toward the exit, I assume he got the hint. I made it to the back of the building where I waited on a forty – fifty minute line, where I met this young woman named Alexandra. She was home from school getting her license, and was worried about not making it to take her test. After chit-chatting and laughing, we exchanged numbers. At this point I was pretty positive that I would have to come back since the DMV was closing soon and I had three tests to take; I figured if we both had to come back, and she needed a ride why not help someone else out? It’s not like being stabbed by a stranger could be worse than spending three – four hours at the DMV anyway. As it turns out, we both got to take our tests. I only had time to take two of them, and passed them with flying colors. If I remember correctly Alexandra shot me a “thumbs up” as the other was headed to the counter for our next set of instructions. In fact, I’m pretty sure she texted me that she did pass.

I was called up to the counter by the heavy-set Black woman with the cutest set of curls, who marked up my paper and told me to come back next week to take the other test. The man up next growled under his breath about waiting so long, and the kind, sweet woman I was just speaking with disappeared into a fierce woman with a strong voice that verbally knocked this man down a peg or two. After waiting on the wrong line for two and a half hours and then waiting on the right line for an hour, I finally got to leave the DMV with two tests passed and under my belt, and two new numbers in my pocket.

My next to the DMV was a little less socially eventful, but still an experience nonetheless. After dealing with far too many strangers last time, my mom came with me to take my last written test. I had read almost every chapter of the manual and was feeling okay. I skipped a few sections, but who needs to know about tanks and hazardous materials? Anyone who has a CDL regardless of what class you’re getting. That’s who… I thought since I was only getting a Class C license, I didn’t have to know tanks or hazmat facts. I was wrong, and after misreading the question and choosing the wrong answer, I failed my test. I started to cry, at the computer, completely surrounded by strangers. I started to lightly cry. If I had been getting a CDL for myself I might not have cried, but I was going for work. I already hadn’t been able to drive the students for two months, and now I had two wait another two weeks because I failed. Again I was called up to the counter, this time by another person, who told me it was really okay, and that I could come back in two weeks to take my test again. The police officer I had chatted with, while my mom waited in the waiting room, right before going in to the testing room myself, saw me come out in tears and patted my shoulder and said I’d ace it next time. I shamelessly walked in to the waiting room, looked at my mom and started crying before I said awful loudly and so articulately, “I failed.” My mom, being the wonderful mom she is, hugged my tight and walked me out of the testing room and to the car. She had thankfully driven.

My mom also came with me two weeks later after I had reread the entire CDL manual, including tanks and hazardous materials. I restudied all of my 200+ index cards, and I was ready to kick this test’s ass. I also went without nerves, my fear of failing had already happened so what did I have left to be nervous about? Again, my mom and I waited in line laughing like jackasses to our own whispered conversations and jokes. She waited in the room, when I went in to the testing room. This time, I got every question right. I almost cried when I had finished from happiness. A smile spread across my face from the time I finished (they tell you right then and there on the screen if you pass/fail), until I practically burst in to the other room literally dancing, saying, “I PASSED! I PASSED!” to my mom. My mom, who then joined me in a celebratory dance in the middle of the waiting room, hugged me and we happily left the DMV. Finally, in November 2013 I passed my driving test and got my CDL complete with a smiling picture and questionable hair.

Almost a year later in November 2014 when I was no longer working for the school district I busted my nuts to get a CDL for, I took my Grammie to renew her license. Anytime I do anything with my Grammie it is an experience. If I had the dedication and wherewithal to rehash years of growing up and then living with this woman I could write a book with more pages, footnotes, and possibly controversy than the Bible. The highlight of the trip came when it was Gram’s turn to get her picture taken. This is a woman whose hands fly to her hip as her right foot juts out forward to a point and smiles like she’s Monroe or Hepburn when she thinks she sees a camera. After two pictures she found appalling, and trying to explain to her the best way to go about having her picture taken, I finally stood her where she had to go, and smushed her face around like putty with my fingers until she had a devilish smirk and no teeth showing. Finally, she was relatively happy with her picture and the guy didn’t bark at her for smiling too much. It seemed everyone was happy, until we got to lunch, but that’s because the woman who considers me to be a walking blue whale, also wanted to go out for pizza for lunch. Riddle me that one… After debating what not to and what to get, we ended up getting the special, a potato, cheddar, bacon combo served in a mini-serves-one-pie, that’s honestly incredible. I ate the bare minimum of mine under glaring eyes as she ate more than me. We both took ours home, and once I returned to my own house quite sometime later, I polished the rest of for dinner.

Three days later I received my renewal card in the mail from the DVM. Had it only come a few days earlier, I could’ve knocked off Gram’s renewal and mine in the same trip, but no such luck. Due to my concussions, I’ve had to make several follow up doctor’s appointments. Since my boyfriend is off on Tuesdays, I usually set my doctor’s appointments for them so we can see a doctor and then get lunch together. It’s probably not as much fun for him, but I love anything we do together, even if I hate going to see any doctor (except of course for my gyno and my chiropractor- the gyno I don’t mind and I love getting adjusted and put back together). This time I decided to take the day off of work to make a doctor’s appointment and then go to the DMV with Matthew to have my license renewed. There weren’t a lot of people there and we moved quickly through the line. As I’m standing there in the quasi-cubicle looking at questionable green and cream wall separated by a strip of red molding, the woman tells me I need a new medical form. I was almost about to make a 20 minute in and out DMV trip, and she tells me I had to bring a new medical form. No one told me. Regardless, she gives me a “skip the line” slip that she said meant I didn’t have to show any documentation when I returned, and all of my stuff back. I take my stuff, my slip, and my boyfriend and leave the DMV fuming. I would have been okay with not renewing my CDL license and that moment, but Matthew, my mom (who I called from the car), and my dad (who I spoke to on the phone after my mom) and decided to keep the freaking thing.

Since it was the New Year, and I had my yearly women’s doctor visiting coming up in February, I decided to wait it out and have my NP fill out the stupid form; which, for the record, confirms that I have to wear contacts. That’s it! That is the entirety of the form. Anyway, Matthew and I headed home, and I tried to get over the frustration and bitchiness that ensued after the wonderful trip to the DMV. In February I had Isabella fill out the form, and when I got home, I threw it in with the rest of my CDL paperwork. This past Friday, I went to the DMV straight from work. I get out at 3 pm on Friday’s, and was at motor vehicles by 3:38. I had everything – my medical forms, my passport, social security card, and about three other backup forms of identification just in case. I was the next person in line and handed the woman my “skip” slip, to which she replied, “I still need all your forms of ID,” so I showed them to her. Then she asked, “What are you here for?” so I told her I was there to renew my CDL. She handed me back my items bound together with the paperclip I brought myself, and then had me follow her around the corner where she handed my stuff to a no-bullshit, very kind woman, who gave me a form I never knew existed to fill out and return. I looked at this form with such contempt and hostilities that it clouded my comprehension. I was lost. When the woman came back I explained to her that I didn’t know about this form, and I’ve been trying to figure out which box is applicable to me to no avail. She took the form back and said it was dumb. Yes, the woman from the DMV said the form was dumb. She then pointed out that I could be multiple boxes, even though you can only check one, so she helped me choose one and told me to wait until she returned. While waiting the man behind the counter made chit-chat about why I have a CDL, and the woman who was getting ready to go also chimed in declaring I was such a good person. By the time she left and the man took his break I felt like I had been canonized for Sainthood.

While waiting I directed three other DMV-goers to the right lines/counters, got glared at by a police officer, and then the woman who initially checked my documents started telling me about how rude people could be, and how she always tried to “kill em with kindness” over the phone. Since I have spent most of my life at the front desk, and currently still do, I could relate to her. People frequently forget that the people in customer service or at the front desk are in fact people. They are not plotting against you and will not treat you unfairly, most of them at least, until you start screaming at them because you’re angry and it’s not their fault. They didn’t sabotage the delivery truck with your items, and they didn’t change your test grades so you failed. They did nothing other than try to help you, and now you’re screaming at them. Most of the time customer service people won’t dick you over even after you yell at them, just because they’re at work. Granted there are always a few bad apples in every bunch, or maybe you calling me a cunt made me put your form on the bottom of the pile, but even so we have deadlines and we’re not going to sabotage our deadlines for revenge, because you were nasty. Anyway, in the midst of this woman telling me how her daughter’s phone bill was $1,800 and how she called their cell phone provider, I was called to cubicle six. Where standing there again looking at the questionable green and cream wall separated by a strip of red molding I was told that I needed to archive my finger prints again. At this point my license was due for expiration in eight days. There was no way I was going home to archive my prints, to come back to stand in line again and wait another hour (with my “line jumper”) just to find out something else went wrong. Instead I dropped both my endorsements and the Commercial portion of my driver’s license. Granted my test scores stay in the system for three years, so once I’ve lost some of the weight I gained in the past two weeks due to stress and no gym time, I can go back to the DMV on a Friday with my archived finger prints, my medical form, my documentation, and no line jumper to get my CDL with P and S endorsements back, all topped with a good picture. Due to the absurd number of inconveniences and fake-catastrophes I occurred while trying to get my damn license renewed I forgot to go back to the older woman who was in the middle of her story before I stormed out on the brink of tears. For that I am truly sorry. The woman is on the receiving end of nastiness all day, and I blew her off because I was being selfish. Next time I go, I will make sure to look out for her and ask whatever happened to her daughter and that $1,800 phone bill. If the past several times I’ve been to the DMV has taught me anything, it’s a weird attempt at patience, and that anyway anything can go wrong, it probably will as long as you are in that giant room with questionable green and cream wall separated by a strip of red molding.

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