The teleprompter would flash and the monotone computer ladies voice would announce the next lucky number. Someone would stand up and everyone else would just stare at them with envy.
Now serving customer C118 at window number 3.
Now serving customer G88 at window number 6.
Now serving customer A212 at window number 8.
Now serving customer E333 at window number 12.
Wait... what?! There are twelve help windows and only four are seeing customers! Have you guessed it yet? Yes, I spent almost three hours at the DMV last week for a total of five minutes with an associate. It could have been less than five but she messed up my last name and had to redo everything, so technically, it could have only taken her 2.5 minutes, if done properly.
The DMV is a unique place, a very special version of hell. No one, including its employees, want to be there, yet everyone has to spend at least some time there. It's one of those necessary evils. It's a pretty unusual mixing pot. I would say that in my recent three hour stint, I saw an example of every race and ethnic group, young people, military people, old people, every socioeconomic class, big people, small people and everything in between. I think an example of just about everything that's out there had at least one representing. Since when did it become a thing to bring your entire family with you to take care of DMV business? Seriously folks, it's never a good idea to bring your toddler along.
Despite knowing what to expect from previous experiences, I was optimistic for this visit. I planned to get there early and deal with it. I didn't get there early and I definitely had to deal with it. I opened the door and was immediately taken aback from the line just waiting for the help/welcome desk. It was snaked around, doubled back and not moving at all. Here goes. I maintained my cool and remained committed to the task at hand despite briefly entertaining the thought of coming back another day. I settled into my place in line and began the long wait. I was almost immediately inundated with the sound of dramatic exhales and eye rolls from every impatient soul there. It's almost laughable. My inner dialogue was really something special but I was determined to stay positive.
I got my number, B50. I had my completed paperwork with me. Don't know why I thought filling out the forms at home would be such a timesaver? The place was packed. I chose a seat at the end of a row (Duh, only one person can sit next to me. God forbid). I was surrounded, except on one side. A column was in front of me at the end of the previous row that had a maximum capacity sign that stated that no more than 371 souls could occupy the building at a time. Hmmm. 371, and not one over. I wondered if we were close. There was also a giant, cutout, cardboard cardinal (yes, like the Virginia state bird) next to the column that said I'd be a hero today if I signed up to be an organ donor. Hmmm. A hero? I understand that my organs could save someones life, but does that make me a posthumous hero? Don't hate, I am an organ donor. I just found their recruitment cardinal to be a bit kitschy. Despite being bright red and huge, I didn't even read it until the little girl in the row behind me decide to push it over, forcing me to look like an ass or catch the stupid thing-- that happened two more times. Hilarious.
I realized almost immediately that I was in for a long haul but I was still alright with it. I was going to stay positive. I tried to not care that people around me, who arrived after me, were being called to windows. I didn't care, and told myself that people are called based on task not by order and continually reminded myself that the employees were doing the best they could. I had entertaining things on my phone to keep my mind occupied and, of course, the fun game with the toddler and the attack cardinal. I still looked up eagerly every time the teleprompter was announcing a new number but would quickly return to my entertainment.
I was seated approximately thirty minutes before the energy around me took a dramatic and immediate shift when she sat down next to me. She was covered in bad vibes and the smell of lingering cigarette smoke. Unbelievable. All my attempts at staying positive and I have a middle-aged smoker, wearing head to toe pink and bedazzled flip-flops who sounds like she's coughing up a lung sit down beside me. Thank you universe, well played. I'll try harder. I imagined my positivity bubble around me and tried hard to not care that she was not just in my bubble, her elbow was touching my arm.
She wanted to talk so badly and I attempted with every single fiber of my being to give off the 'uninterested' vibe combined with the 'find another chair' vibe and the 'I hate the smell of smoke' vibe. It didn't work.
"What number are you?"
It began with that simple question and didn't stop until she was called (before me) about an hour and a half later. In the beginning, she was focused mainly on pointing out the obvious. The DMV version of the weather convo. She got extremely impatient almost immediately. On and on and on about how inefficient the DMV is and how none of the employees seem to actually be working and how the old man has been at window 7 FOREVER. She commented on peoples attire, a poor pale girl needing a tan, etc. Then she seemed to get more comfortable and explained why she was even there and that doing this sort of favor for a friend was the kind of person she was. Sweet Lord, I'm sure she was a very special friend, indeed. It is painful just typing this and recalling my interaction with her. My ears may have been bleeding. And despite my continuous efforts to maintain my calm and now it seemed, hers too, she carried on, full force. I said very little but she didn't seem to mind, she kept going.
There is a reason that everyone looks like they are bat shit crazy in there license photos. They've seen too damn much and they have literally been pushed to the edge. There should be a 'license photo' filter and it's automatically applied to people who post numerous selfies on social media. It may help them cut back. I am pretty excited to see what my updated mass murderer pic will look like. A photo that makes you wait today, is so far from the norm in this instant gratification world. Take a pic, hate it? Just delete it and try again. Oh, but there's one that makes you wait and it's yours for a least a few years... no redos with this bad boy. And you get to show it to people all the time. The golden ticket.
My point in sharing this story isn't to shit talk the DMV or even the crazy lady, who at one point pulled out some lotion and applied it to the bottom of her feet, but to give an example about how your energy does and will affect the people around you. There is no bullshit in the statement you get back what you put out. Karma was obviously catching up with me from some previous infraction. My interactions with this woman were extremely challenging but it was also a good learning opportunity. Don't be a soul suck, instead let your soul shine! Smile, laugh, be polite, open doors, stop at crosswalks, the little things add up and could mean more than you'd ever know. It also feels way better to be the soul shine person than it does to be the soul suck.
So, here's to hilariously bad license photos and soul shine!