The Dreaded DMV

Disclaimer: When I tell such stories as I’m about to tell, I always feel I ought to preface the tale by making note of something- That is, I do not seriously feel injured by the various inconveniences which I am about to re-tell. In fact, I am honestly grateful for days like this because they make me that much more grateful for the good and joy of life. I fear, however, that I may insult some dear soul who is truly in the midst of deep suffering by what might be mistaken as shallow complaint about nonsense. The real purpose of my telling this truly comes from a simple desire to bring a smile to your face and amusement of the ridiculous to your heart.  Goodness knows we really ought to laugh at ourselves when we can, don’t you think?  So if there is nothing in your life to laugh at presently, well here you are.

It is unlikely there is anyone reading this who knows nothing of the horrors found within the cold walls of the DMV.

DMV…oh, shiver me timbers….. just the word sends tingles down my spine.  And not in a good way.

I am thoroughly convinced after my last visit that this place is a black hole, designed solely for the purpose of driving otherwise sane human beings into a strange state of utter madness for the sake of their own twisted mission.  What exactly that mission is I have not quite figured out, but I suspect it has something to do with robots taking over the world so that this is all one big, dreadful DMV world.

Oh, don’t be fooled by the blank stares and seemingly unsuspecting voices behind the counter.  These disingenuous masterminds are just playing with you, my friend.  If you feel you may be going mad as you exit the building, just look around.   You shall observe that same look of crazy in everyone’s eyes.

It is, you see, I was once the ignorant fool who thought the DMV a place like any other.  It was, in particular, a stop I did not mind making if necessary, for such a fascinating venue it provided for people-watching.

Ha ha. Little did I realize it was I who was being watched.

It began as innocently as one might expect. As I stood there waiting in line I was approached by a gentleman in some sort of uniform who was, I suppose, intended to give some impression of security without actually having any security to offer.

Man in pseudo uniform:  “Miss, I think you’re in the wrong line, aren’t you here to take your driver’s test?”

Me: “No..I’m 29 years old”

Man in pseudo uniform, now turning red and looking at me sideways:  “Oh, um, beg your pardon mam…what are you here for?”

Me:  “Vehicle transfer”

Walking over to the appropriate line, I begin to wonder if I might need to start wearing stilettos all the time.

They call my number and then the real fun begins.

Blank stare lady behind the counter holds out her hand and asks for my pink slip.  As I am passing it to her, I tell her I haven’t filled out the odometer reading yet because I had wanted to ensure its accuracy.  As I am writing the number down in front of her, my pen makes a minuscule line on the page next to one of the numbers.  I think nothing of it because it is the size of a very small ant.  And who would think something of a line the size of a very small ant?

Well as it turns out, Blank-Stare lady, that’s who.  She glances at the page and robotically hands it back to me.

Blank-Stare Lady: “We cannot accept this, this is an alteration.”

She points her finger at the page without even looking at it, precisely where the little line is.  I think this is sort of creepy and begin to wonder if she really is a robot.   I also begin to wonder what sort of Twilight Zone I’m in and if I’m ever going to get out.

Surely I just need to clarify and its all just a big misunderstanding, right?

Wrong

Me:Um, are you sure you can’t accept it?  I mean, I just wrote the number in front of you, you saw me do it…..”

Blank-Stare: “We cannot accept this, this is an alteration.”

Her finger goes back to the pen mark, again without looking down, her expressionless eyes fixed upon me.

Me:  “Ok….Is there anything I can do to fix the problem so I can turn this in?”

Blank-Stare: “We cannot accept this, this is an alteration.

By now a wild array of thoughts are passing through my mind.  It dawns on me that I am also staring blankly back at her now, and suddenly realize that is probably just what they want.

Holy moley,  I am turning into one of them. Slowly, very slowly I back away from the counter and stand there for a moment like some sort of  imbecile, trying to figure out what to do.

Blank Stare is still blankly staring, and the faux officer who thought I was 16 is watching me as if I’m about to do something rash, which may not be so far fetched at this point.  Trying to preserve some of calm, I return to Blank-Stare and ask for the paperwork I’ll need to start the process over.  She hands me a stack of new papers with lots of lines for signatures and tells me when they will be expecting me back.

Then, withought blinking eye, she asks me for payment and holds out her little robot hand.

Me: “um…..just so I’m clear, what exactly am I paying for?”

Blank Stare:  “ Starting the process of your request.”

Me: “Hmm, interesting.

At this point I’m done. I’m done with Blank-Stare, done with Mr Faux Officer over there waiting for me to pull out a hand-grenade, done with the madness that is the DMV.  I want out, and I want out now. My thoughts are now mostly consumed with words I want to say, none of which are clean or kind.

I hand her the money (which now seems a very small price to pay for a way out of here) and half walk/half run out the door.  I wince at the thought of having to return and feel rather sorry for the crowd of people still in there.  Half of them have ‘crazy’ written all over their faces, the other half seem to have succumb to the blank stare stage of things and are beginning to not look very human at all.

As I exit I happen to glance back and see Blank Stare wink at Faux Officer with the most insidious grin you can imagine.

Shiver. Me. Timbers.

Running through the Storm

It had been a long day.  Nah, it had been a long week.

They come for all of us, don’t they?  Those times that knock us down so hard we just have to lie there a while and wonder why we’re trying.  But, by the grace of God we learn how to adapt and find ways to keep our spirits up when that which surrounds us seems to only want to pull us down. Sometimes hope comes in small ways no one else cares about or notices at all.

Upon reflection, I find I am deeply grateful for the curiously lavish amount of these little kindles of light I’ve collected over the years, the insignificant glimmers that remind me of what really matters.  That there is light on the other side, that there is good now, if only in crumbs and tiny flames. I find these little blessings helpful to recall. They keep our hearts from becoming too consumed with ourselves and out of the trap of self-obsession or discouragement.

As I always say, I think there is some good common sense in forgetting about oneself as often as is you can, both the good and the bad.  The good is His doing anyway,  and the bad must be given to Him.  Not to say reflection and introspection isn’t important, but mulling over oneself for too long isn’t good for anyone’s health, in my opinion.  It tends to make us think we have something to do with our beauty, or are doomed to our own failures.  Thus we become either terribly vain or else overcome by despair.

If we must mull, let us mull over Him. If we’ve forgotten how, perhaps those little blessings from Him can remind us where to look.

Running is one of those things for me that pulls me out of myself and the crud my eyes see.  I’m not even really sure what it is about it, but it does what I need it to do, and for half an hour I can breathe and connect with life, become once again mindful of others’ needs and what matters at the end of the day.  At the end of life.

Due to a variety of other commitments and life that just happened (as life tends to do) I wasn’t able to run for a few days last week, which is longer than what I would have preferred.  To say I was itching for a run would be something of an understatement.   You might say I had broken out in hives for lack of a run.

Alright, that’s really dramatic, but you get the picture.

So finally on Wednesday I found I was going to have time after work.   Got through the day and stepped outside to find dark stormy skies, chilly air and horizontal rain.

You know, the sort that renders an umbrella useful only for an occasional chuckle or, perhaps, as a tool for finding your way through an otherwise blinding storm.

I put on my shoes anyway, stirred by some comically impenetrable fire within, and stared up at the sky for a while. I don’t know how long I stood there, but it was how long took for me to find the courage to step out into it.

It was brilliantly cold, my fingers were numb and I was soaked through and through.  It was beautiful and painful.  Halfway through my trek, the most amazing thing happened. A surge of sunshine broke through the crashing storm, bringing with it the most extraordinary rainbow I’ve ever seen.

As my tears mixed with the rain that fell, the colors seemed only to grow stronger with each passing moment, reminding me that so often that is life.  The storm doesn’t always stop, but the sun breaks through now and then, giving us rainbows of hope for something better.

Pup to dog

The other day Bear decided to grow up.  I have no idea what inspired him to do such a thing, he never seemed to have any interest in the idea before, he’s made that rather clear.

But, lo and behold, he’s done it.  The first sign came one Monday morning as I was getting ready to leave for work, turning off lamps, pouring my coffee, and picking up my bag….

Before I continue, I should explain that normally, Bear is confined to a certain space in the house while I’m away, for his benefit and for mine.  Some dogs require (and do better) with a ‘place’ that is their own rather than free reign of the house or yard.  While Lo has adapted beautifully to full freedom, keeping her post as watchdog 24/7, Bear still does better with a bit of structure.

Baby gates are beautiful things indeed. Even when there is no baby involved….so to speak.

In many ways, Lo is her own structure, she was sort of born that way.   Bear, on the hand, will remove all items from shelves, pull duvets off beds, remind the wall that this is still his territory, and otherwise express his anxiety by making a nuisance of himself and finding whatever mischief he can possibly discover, uncover, or recover.

But I digress.  As I was getting getting ready to leave that day, preparing to lead Bear to his captivity, I turned to find him there, curled upon the floor where he was intended to go.  Not only that, he had dragged his bed and blanket with him and had already begun to close his eyes, waiting for me to close his gate.

He had, in every sense of the word, put himself to bed.

Every day since then he’s done the same, and when I smile and laugh and ask him what he’s up to, he just looks up at me with his ridiculously droopy eyes as if to say  ‘I’ve always been so wise and, come on now, please.’

This was sign number one.  Sign number two was a bit more subtle and took me longer to notice.   After I  moved, Lo decided to shift from her place beside my bed to the livingroom couch, keeping watch for any person who might pass by my place.  While I can’t say I always appreciate every grunt and growl she utters as I’m trying to fall asleep, I do appreciate the sentiment.

But instead of following her lead to go sleep on on his most prized possession (aka, The Beloved Couch) Bear has chosen to take his place beside my bed on the floor. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he’d rather be on the couch.

I really only noticed this because of his frequent attempts to check on me in the middle of the night for no good reason at all, other than to ensure my continued existence.

And maybe for the fun of giving me a small fright and making me jump out of bed rather quickly.

His way of doing this is much like that of a horse, staring into your face in the dead of night and snorting on you until you wake up and percieve you’re about to be eaten alive by a monster.  There’s nothing quite like waking up to that, let me tell you.

So, ok, he’s not all grown up yet, but despite his mischevious moments, he refuses to leave my side at night.  Even when he wants to get up and succeeds in getting me up, he’ll only move from that spot if I walk out ahead of him.

And then, of course, he makes a beeline to the couch and heaves a heavy sigh, sinking into the Bear-shaped crater that was once a level place to sit.

It’s all rather curious, and while I really don’t know why he’s decided to grow up, I can’t complain.  Despite my doubts as to whether or not he actually wanted to be one, it seems he’s finally decided to be a dog.