Even though it is 107 degrees in the shade, even though the lines, nine of them are out of the door and spill into the nearly filled parking lot, even though I had an appointment, even though I began to sob and lean deeply into my cane and even though I dragged my ass from window to window for over 5 hours, there was no escape. There was no escape from the lines with only one person helping the deluge of people, there was no escape from the many and varied languages spoken at high volumes all around you, there was no escape from the heat, there was no water and the lines to the bathrooms equaled the ones you are waiting in to have your picture taken. It was the kind of terror I experienced when I was nine months pregnant and I realized that I had to do this, it was my baby, I had to have it; and this time as well, there was no other way out if I wanted to participate as a driver in my state, in my country. I and I alone had to navigate this maze.
Without further ado, I did pass my test missing only one. No I am no winner, I studied beyond the bell. I knew every question backwards and even the ones stated in their tricky manner, except the one where I may have made an error on being polite. Nope, you can’t even be polite, just legal.
I paid $31.00 for my license renewal, but would gladly pay $100 if it would gain enough revenue to open one more line for photos, one more line for information, one more line for appointments, one more line to get and take the driving written test, one more line to correct the test and another line to take the driving test. There are nine or ten booths to take your money, and your vision test, which takes minutes, but only one line for each of the other services. Imagine the crowds descending from the open easy booths to the funneling; huddling crushes of one line for each of the other the services.
Several much younger and stronger folks just sat down or lay down in line. I used a chair with a handicapped sign on the back and pulled it around for a while. I am waiting in another type of line for a partial knee replacement. If I had known the extreme physical challenge of the DMV experience, I would have come in a wheel chair and had someone wheel me through the process. It would not have cut down the time because no one will let you in line for handicapped, everyone in that building waiting in line was in pain and felt sorrowfully handicapped. Dragging the chair did help me through the ordeal.
When I had waited in all of the lines and all of my tasks were done, they put all of my collected information into a computer at the end of the last line. Mine would not go through. Everyone before me had theirs go through. I began to melt down. The gentleman was very apologetic, but nonetheless, I had to go back to window 1 and start over. That is when I opened up the floodgates and melted down to jelly. I was assisted through the second time at the head of the lines. I can’t wait to see my second photo after 5 and 1/2 hours in a sweatbox. Of course, by the time I got to my car at the end of the long, long parking lot, I was proud of my accomplishment at the DMV facility because I was still alive, barely. It takes several days to get over an experience like this at any age.
There is no one to listen, but I do believe that you might be interested to know that the written test is given in every language imaginable, and people walking out of the DMV that day passed their written driving exam, but will they be able to read merge, and end of divided highway?
Since I realized that all of my immediate America was in this building, huddled together for a common and individual cause, I looked around and drank deeply of ethnicity. They all acted very nice and accommodating to each other. People who didn’t even know each other, and some that did, helped each other and took turns standing in line for one another while the other rested in some chairs provided. When there were no chairs, they just slumped into the wall and ultimately the floor. I thought I was the only one suffering so greatly, but as I looked around at these faces, they were all commonly suffering for the same singular goal; the right to drive in California, in the United States of America. The young, the old, those in the middle of the road and all those in between had pain and standing for long periods of time hurt, plus the whole experience was daunting and painful. It was good to know I was not alone.
A good observation to report is that all of the people working for the DMV behind the counters, with the floods of people staring at them from the other side, never ever lost their cheerful, high spirited approach to their job and the people they served that day.