With today being the 17th anniversary of my 21st birthday, I had to once again go through the painful process of renewing that glorious little card in my wallet that has me listed 2 inches shorter than I actually am and features my full on samurai haircut in its prime.
Now I’ll be honest, New York State has a great online Department of Motor Vehicles. Everything I had to do I COULD have done online with perhaps better planning… like a more current eye exam. Since I’ve been doing my yearly eye exams in September for over 10 years, the online option just was not to be by the time I realized I needed one within the last six months. Nevertheless, I was undaunted in getting myself off the “Licenses To Expire List” before landing on the “Licenses That Expired List“.
So when I got there at 8:10am (they open at 8:30am), the line outside the door was already down the side of the building. By the time I got there, I was encroaching onto the sidewalk in front. What was worse, even more people ended up on the line behind me. I honestly didn’t expect so many people on a Monday morning of a holiday week.
In front of me was a man and in front of him was a woman with a shopping cart that obviously contained her worldly possessions. I found myself wondering what class license the cart was covered under when around 8:35am, we started to shuffle forward. The security guard at the door stopped the line trying to have the woman leave the cart outside, but to no avail. After some debate, she pushed her way in allowing the line to continue forward until I finally found myself inside at around 8:45am.
Here’s where it gets both interesting and obnoxious at the same time. Now I remember the time when you would go to the counter in the middle (similar to a bank counter with the forms in slots along the desk) (1), find your form, fill it out (2), and then head to the service counter line (3). Simple, right? So that’s what I attempted to do.
The forms weren’t at the desks. See, what you actually have to do, is get on line A to get the form (1). Then you fill it out (2), get onto line B so they can check the form (3), and give you a ticket (4) so when your number gets called you go to the service counter (5). I had inadvertently gotten off line A in my quest for the forms, so I ended up at the very end.
I was doomed.
Luckily, I never had to make it to the counter because one of the clerks came out with renewal forms for anyone on Line A. Once I had the form filled out, I went to Line B and after a few minutes had my ticket.
They had just called F628 through a digital mechanical voice, so I thought I was in good shape! Only 13 people to get called before it would be my turn at one of the service windows. Then the logic circuits illogically called the next few numbers…
Now serving A223 at window 10
Now serving A224 at window 27
Now serving A225 at window 17
Now serving B546 at window 4
Now serving D607 at window 9
Now serving A226 at window 13
Now serving C356 at window 23
Now serving H905 at window 21
Now serving F629 at window 19
… and so on. I sighed heavily, resigned to be ready to celebrate the 18th anniversary of my 21st birthday before reaching the counter.
As I sat in the pew staring at the angry red numbers on the board glowing back at me mockingly, I became aware of a familiar scent wafting into my nostrils. There, in the middle of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles I smelled the New York City Subway.
Am I the only one to see the irony in that?
“Excuse me,” creaked the voice from slightly behind me, “Do you have a pen? I’ll give it right back.”
I turned to see the shopping cart woman standing there with form in hand.
Was there a sign on me that read Misery Line Starts Here? She had the contents of her cart in tow, but no cart. So as I handed over my Bic fine point, I sighed, never expecting to see it again. She sat in front of me, filled out her form as best she could for a replacement non-driver governmental ID.
“Thank you,” she said with a smile as she handed me back the pen. For a second I wanted to ask what she listed as her address, just to see what she would say, but I thought better of it. Or more accurately, fate thought better of it…
Now serving ef six forty one at window forty-two
It was finally my turn! I hustled to the window 42 and promptly presented my form, old driver’s license, ticket, and credit card. The official chuckled a little and asked me to read a few letters on a board hanging from the ceiling to which I promptly replied, “Sure, Henry Nora Victor Boy Union Sam….”
“Uh,” he interrupted, “Sir, can you just say the letters?”
I smiled nervously and read the line the way Mrs. Krause from first grade had taught me. When I was done with the first line, I went to the second line and read that for good measure.
“That’s fine sir. Military?” he asked.
“Oh no, EMS,” I replied. He nodded as if knowingly. A few keys punched, a swipe of the credit card, and a sheet through an inkjet printer later and I was good to go!
On the way out the door I passed by the cart woman again. Apparently they wouldn’t accept her current form due to… yep… lack of address.
“Here,” I said while handing her my pen, “Just put down 1 Penn Plaza, basement apartment.”
With that I was DONE!
In all fairness, I was out by 9:45am. That a whopping 75 minutes which, in hindsight, I could have probably kept to an hour had I just played the role of sheep. While it seemed painful to endure at the time, it really wasn’t all that bad.
Three Things I Learned From Dee Em Vee
As with most experiences, I think there are some lessons to take away:
- Sometimes being a sheep is okay – had I just followed along with everyone else, I probably would have been done earlier
- Not everyone uses the phonetic alphabet – yeah, oops
- “Undomiciled” is not an acceptable address – which is really sort of a downer… but it doesn’t mean I’ll stop using it on my paperwork
And thus concludes my adventure at DMV…