Sunday, February 20, 2005


It's been a harrowing week, dear readers. Since my last missive, I've stared sheer terror in the face, and somehow, with only sheer grit and brute machismo, I have survived.

That's right -- I had to go to the DMV.

It all started off so innocently the other night, getting off work and going out to a club with some friends. Upon getting carded at the door, the bouncer looked at me and said, "You know, your license is expired." Oh, phoo. (But I used vocabulary a bit harsher than "phoo," I'm afraid.) Once again I had retained my crown as The Most Irresponsible Person of Earth. It turns out I had been running amok for almost 30 days on an expired license. (My mom is rolling her eyes as she reads this right now, I know she is. It's not your fault, Mom. You tried.)

The next day, my mission was simple -- make it to the DMV and back in a 60 minute lunch break. What can I say, I'm optimistic.

Over here in Illinois, the DMV used to be at Cityline Plaza, a convenient five minutes from both work and home. But someone at the facility -- realizing that the word "convenient" goes against everything the DMV stands for -- had the good sense to move it to the furthest corner of the QC (a distant land the natives call 'Silvis,') in a complex so confusing it defies description. After a brisk 20 minute drive, I was there. Or was I? Wait, did I just pass the turn? Should I go back...? No, maybe it's up here... oh, PHOO! (Actually, perhaps closer to, "How the phoo do I get into this phooing parking lot, you phooing phoophooers?")

There should no longer be need for people to take a driving test when they get their license; if they can make it inside the DMV parking lot, they've already proven themselves worthy behind the wheel. After taking a quick course in cartography and consulting my Magic 8-Ball ("My sources say NO,") I made it into the parking lot and triumphantly strutted into the DMV...

...for exactly two paces. Then I was in a line. In fact, it was the line to find out which line I needed to stand in next. Ahead of me were two people who I'll just call The Worst Case Scenario. The first was a 16 year old girl who was obviously making her first trip into Hell. As she shuffled awkwardly in line and pulled the Rules of the Road out of her purse for a final once-over, I remembered how hard I'd studied for my first written driving test, only to arrive to find out the questions were like, "A person crosses the street in front of you. Do you: (a) slow down, (b) speed up, (c) honk your horn and proceed as normal, (d) run them down as penance for their insolence."

The other lady in front of me might have been a nice woman... 20 years ago, when she might have still been alive. Now, here she was at the ripe old age of 127, trying and failing to pass her vision test. And getting upset. And demanding a supervisor. And eating up the rest of my lunch hour. (When I'm in a rush, I have NO sympathy, folks, not even for the Little Old Lady From Pasadena.)

Finally, it was my turn. I did the eye test while the DMV worker appeared to be reading a magazine of some kind. She was paying so little attention that I could have just made up stuff: "X, E, Y, Pi, one of the symbols off Led Zeppelin IV, a Volkswagen logo, E..."

Then the coup de grace. The new driver's license photo. Every year, it's cringe-worthy, but this time, it aspired to new levels of bad. Like Nick Nolte mugshot kinda bad. If driver's license photos came with captions, the only two that could apply to my new pic are: (a) "Hey, buddy, got any crack?" or possibly (b) "Hey, buddy, want any crack?" In the mirror, I think I look marginally okay. In my driver's license, I now look like a lazy-eyed, unshaven, double-chinned, messy-haired refugee from Losertown.

It's such a horrible picture that I'm almost looking forward to 1/5/09 when I can go back to the DMV and change it. On second thought, phoo that.

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