So [ I start with “so” because it seems that beginning every statement with “so” is de rigueur these days ] I went over to the DMV ( California Department of Motor Vehicles ) today . I had made an appointment . I had made an appointment some two months ago for the first date available . Today .
Two months is a long time . I got to the desk at the DMV and was asked , ” Did you fill out an application on line ? ” It was so long ago that I couldn’t remember if I had or if I hadn’t . Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. I told her I think I did but that I wasn’t sure .(I had done something on -line . That’s how I got the appointment. At any rate , please don’t ask me for a password.)
Turns out I hadn’t.
My appointment was at 11:00 am. When I arrived 15 minutes before 11:00 I was surprised , shall we say somewhat dismayed , to see a line curling around the side of the building. Ah, but I had an appointment ! I hoped to heck that these were not the appointment people . I walked right into the building , passing the poor souls in the long line . A security guard inside the building asked me what the hell I was doing there . Well , he didn’t use the word “hell”. When I said I had an appointment he directed me to a line of people . ” Get in line behind the black coat .”
I took my place in line . Some other souls soon lined up behind me . Black coat and about five others were ahead of me . Not bad, I thought. Everyone stood still . The line didn’t move for 15 minutes . A man behind me speculated that they were waiting for 11:00 to begin the process . Everyone in line seemed to have an 11:00 am appointment . We all waited . Patiently.
There were two clerks checking-in all the arrivals. At first they alternated between those hoards without appointments and us few with appointments . I reached the clerk about 11:15 . Still not bad. ” Have you filled out an application on line ? ”
She sent me to another room to do the on -line application with all the others who hadn’t done the on-line stuff yet . It didn’t take long . Multiple-choice questions for the driver’s license . I had to ask a DMV employee what color I should put for my hair color . Always used to be “black”. What now ? Black ? Bald ? White ? The woman said , ” It’s sure not black any more . You’ve still got some fuzz,” she said . Fuzz ! “Put white ,” she said . I put white.
” Go back to the red carpet , she said . The red carpet was the first line that I had been in, the one for those with appointments.
” Back to the line ,” I said.
“Oh , I don’t think there should be a line ,” she said. Maybe it was a joke , but it sure seemed like she believed her own prediction . The job at the DMV was affecting her judgement.
There was a line .
I eventually spoke again to the same woman I had first encountered . ” Okay,” she told me and handed me a paper with a number scrawled on it . ” Wait over there until your number is called .”
20 more minutes passed . While I was waiting an Asian man came and sat next to me . He had been in an accident and needed to file some papers with the DMV. He wanted my help in filling out the papers . The trouble was that he spoke no English . Maybe a couple of words ; but only a couple. We struggled with the first question : ” What is the value of your vehicle ?” That was a five minute exchange. ( He wrote 4000 .) The second question asked what was the cost of the change to the vehicle . I tried to communicate with the guy but I realized that it was useless . I told him that he could probably get a Chinese interpreter . They had Chinese speakers all over the place. No lie. I told him that I could not help him . I had assumed that he was Chinese . I told him that he would have to do it in Chinese .
He pointed at me . ” Chinese ? ” he said , as if I had just told him that I spoke only Chinese . I guess he was not Chinese after all . ” Yes,” he said and left . Funny , I don’t look Chinese . Must have been my facial expression that day .
My number was eventually called , but not before the Chinese woman who had been behind me in the original line sat down next to me . It seems she was recently separated from her husband. He was the one in their relationship , she said , who used to do all of the DMV stuff like renewing her driver’s license ; but now it was all up to her . She had already had her picture taken and now she was again waiting around for the next little requirement . ” I didn’t know before I came here ,” she said . ” I’ve been here two hours . ”
Me too , but I hadn’t even had my picture taken yet .
The next DMV guy took my documents . We’re told that we need identifying documents to prove that we’re true red-blooded cracker-jack Americans with legitimate social security numbers and local residences so that we can get what they call a “Real ” ID or driver’s license so that after 2020 we can be allowed to fly on airplanes and allowed into government buildings , and stuff like that . Ada says that she won’t do it . She has a passport for flights , she says . Maybe I shouldn’t have gone for it either . On principal . I’m weak.
Can’t they just put little chips under our skins to track all of us ? No chip and you go to federal detention with all of the other outlaw renegades . I guess maybe that would generate a black market in stolen chips ? Anyway , they could call it “REAL” identification if they like . Larry Page or Mark Zuckerberg would be in charge of the whole operation , I suppose . The politicians would have to choose what platform for all of us
sheep constituents to use and then we’d all be stuck with whatever one they choose. Heaven forbid someone tries to change platforms ! I’ll go with Zuckerberg — he seems caring and sincerely interested in my fate ( Not .)
Any way , there was another line to get to the camera for the required photo . The camera operator was the woman who had suggested that I answer “white” for hair color . She was nice enough . Another DMV employee came into the camera room to yell at us a little : ” Keep the line moving ! Face the other way , sir ! Make room ! Keep the line moving forward ! ” It wasn’t going to make the line move any faster . There was only one camera. At the camera one had to put a thumb on the fingerprint device and then scrawl a signature on computer glass . I say scrawl because mine comes out a scrawl nowadays . Every one is different and childish , and not even close to my traditional signature. I wouldn’t believe that that is my signature even when I’m writing it . Why would anyone else . Like , in the real world ( I mean , the REAL world ) what’s the point ? My electronic signature is not my
real valid identifying signature . Just saying . (Where’ that little under-the -epidermis chip ?)
I was told that I’d get my new REAL license in the mail . I might have asked how many weeks it might take to get it , but I was discouraged by then . As it was I waited ( only about 10 minutes !) to get a temporary license from the same guy who had taken and copied my documents . The temporary turned out in the end to be a generic form letter including no specific information of any kind . I’d like to see a cop’s reaction if I have to show him/her that . ” I have a chip
on in my shoulder ,” I might otherwise have said . ” If you have your detector device then we can get about our business, Officer . See you on Facebook ! ”