Monday, June 4, 2012

Lessons from Vanity

 The DMV, other wise known as "Devils, Maniacs and Villains." In the space of 4 days, I took two separate trips there. And I survived.

I went on Friday because, as fate would have it, my birthday was on a Saturday, and the DMV isn't open on Saturdays. This wouldn't be a problem, since you can get your license renewed up to 6 months ahead of time if you so choose, except I was hoping that by waiting as late as possible, perhaps I could avoid an "under 21" license. After all, they mail you the real license now, instead of giving it to you on the spot, so if I went in to get it renewed on Friday, and my 21st birthday was the next day, by the time I received the license I would be 21, so it makes sense, right? If they wouldn't do it, I'd just have to live with the "under 21."

I did my time standing in line. And then I sat there in that uncomfortable chair, reading "Great Expectations" and getting that involuntary leap in eagerness every time a new ticket number was called, even though I knew mine was still 8 numbers away. Finally, they called my number. I signed some new sex offender agreement, and signed the signature slip. I passed the eyesight and signs test. Then I asked if my license would say "under 21" even though my birthday was the very next day. She said it certainly would. As I was getting ready to mentally sigh, roll my eyes and resign myself to being under 21 until my 29th birthday, she offered me another option: "If you can come in Monday morning right at 8am, I'll let you finish then, so you'll avoid that 'under 21.' You won't have to wait in line, or take the tests again, just come in and pay, get your picture taken and get on your way." In a moment of mental abstraction, I heard myself agree, then I thanked her, and left. Without completing my object. No temporary license paper in my hand.

On the way home, I started coming back to my senses. At home, Daddy confirmed my sneaking suspicion that I had made a witless mistake. What does it really matter if my license said "under 21"? It was an example of how silly and vain I can be, how childish and petty. I certainly think that the state license design is stupid, and it's annoying to think that because of one 24-hour period, during which I wouldn't even be in possession of the actual license, I should be branded inaccurately for the next 8 years with that yellow underage tape. I'd already spent the last three years being "under 18" because I didn't think it was worth it to go into the DMV and pay to get a new license until it expired. Honestly, how terrible would it be for another 8 years? Anyone desiring to know my actual age could apply simple math skills to my birthdate.

Thus, my second visit to the DMV was of my own volition, and inconvenienced Daddy as well as myself, because I couldn't drive with my expired license. At 7:50am, there was already an extremely long line outside of the DMV, waiting for the office to open. I spent the next 10 minutes desperately hoping this would work better than it currently seemed possible. The examiner lady had given me a slip that read "Appt. with Examiner M----" and told me to come in the exit, and not stand in line. When the DMV officer finally opened the doors at 8am, I showed him the slip, went in the exit side, and straight to my examiner's desk. She breezed through the final steps, I paid, and she told me to take a seat, and "wait for him to call your name" for the picture. The only male officer I saw was the one who had opened the doors, and he was slowly handing out tickets to the long line of people waiting. After 5 minutes, I began to anxiously wonder if he would ever get to me, or if I would spend an hour or two just waiting to get my picture taken, and my temporary license printed. After about 10 minutes, my examiner lady was doing something else at the printer, and then she called me up and took my picture herself. While she was waiting for the temporary license to print, she rejoiced in finishing an exam paper last night, and praised her coworker's new hairdo. "She went on vacation, and came back a new woman!" She explained to me. Finally, the printer spewed out my piece of paper, and she sent me off with a smile and "have a nice day!"

I learned a few lessons from this experience. First, not to be so picky about things not going the way I want. I know what I think is best for many situations, but that's often not the way it goes, and I need to be able to get over it and go with the flow. I knew that I probably would be given an "under 21" license in spite of the imminent arrival of my 21st birthday. I should have just accepted it. Second, not to be swayed by tempting options. Having assumed that the government wouldn't bend the rules even slightly, I prepared to spend the next 8 years with a yellow underage license, but I caved under the opportunity to come back and not have to wait in line. And thirdly, not to consider the DMV a den of Devils, Maniacs and Villains. Besides my examiner, the male officer that opened the doors, and the changed woman coworker seemed very nice, and my examiner was obviously trying to be considerate and helpful. Also, I think that my attitude is improved, because rather than making fun of the DMV's license design for the next 8 years, I have been humbled by the realization of how immature I am, and instead of being unreasonably annoyed at the DMV employees (who have to follow the rules or risk their jobs) I have a pleasant experience with a woman who helped me as much as she could.

And on the way home, Daddy avoided hitting a turtle in the road, and then I got to get out and carry the little guy the rest of the way across the road. Small delights! ;)