DMV is the Department of Motor Vehicles for the few of you who may not be familiar with the aconym. It is probably the best place to see Democracy in action. All of us (no matter what age, race, ethnicity, dress, income level, with children, friends or alone, with or without cellphone in hand) stand in the same snaking line that seems to inch forward s-l-o-w-ly.
9:20–Arrive at the DMV but can only get through the outerdoors. (The line snakes in front of the innerdoors.)
9:22–Finally able to actually get into the DMV. Can immediately tell that the aging man in front of me with the grizzled thin ponytail straggling down the back of his work jacket is a heavy smoker. Wonder what the chances of suffering from the second (or would that be third) hand smoke scent that rises off his jacket.
9:35-The woman in back of me recognizes the ringtone on her phone and answers it. From the conversation that is impossible to ignore, I deduce that she is a very concerned caregiver for autistic individuals. One child is suddenly afraid to walk outside alone and she wonders what may have changed. Another individual on a group outing needed someone to escourt him to the men’s room (no family room being available, otherwise she would have taken him in there herself. ) The only male employee with the group was reluctant to take the individual to the men’s room and seemed to have taken an inordinate amount of time when he finally escourted the individual to the bathroom. She wonders why and was he dissing her with his attitude?
9:40–A man on the opposite side of the snaking line lays his license plate down on the floor adjacent to every pole that supports the plastic line dividers that mark our faltering path to the information desk. Every few minutes, he reaches down to pick up the single rusted, dented license plate, retrieves it, shuffles a few steps and lays it back down at the base of the next pole.
9:44- The line inches ahead but the three ladies of a certain age are chatting so enthusiastically that they fail to notice that the line has moved. No one says anything and eventually they shuffle forward
9:47-The couple, a few people in back of me, softly talk in Spanish about the license plate they need to get for a car.
9:50- A middle aged man in a UVA sweatshirt walks through the door (which has had nobody standing in front of it since I got to the end of the slowly advancing line). He sees the line (which is now actually shorter than it has been since I got there a half hour earlier) and says to no on in particular, “This line is too line. I’ll come back tomorrow.” I think that line will probably be longer then.
9:53-The two teenaged girls near the end of the line strike up a conversation, ignoring the man standing in between them. “I like your hair,” the second girl says to the blue haired girl standing in front of her. “Thanks,” say blue haired girl. “I keep the color by only washing my hair once a month.” I wonder if the pimples on her face are a by-product of the monthly hair wash (or is that just an old wives’s tale?) She tells the other girl that she gets it done at a salon near the Downtown Pedestrian Mall. The other girl says she will have to visit the salon.
9:55-The two young women pushing a remarkably well behaved little girl in a stroller, finally reach the front the line. I’m not sure which one is the girl’s mother, they seem to care for her equally. Although the little girl seems to favor the thinner one more than the one with the beautiful thick blonde hair and the thick sturdy thighs straining her black pants.
9:58-My legs and hips are starting to hurt. I wonder how the man standing on his prothetic leg is doing and hope it is comfortably padded.
10:00–The man with the smoking work jacket finally gets to the head of the line and is summoned to the information desk.
10:02-After two deliciously smoke free minutes, it’s my turn to go talk to the lady at the information desk. No one has taken any pictures, no one has gotten irate, no one has broken line, although a few people had their places held by neighbor as they left to use the bathroom or duck outside to make/take a phone call.