What’s worse than hanging out at the DMV? Spending 3 1/2 hours waiting at the DMV.
Now, this wasn’t all in one sitting. That would be ridiculous, but over two days I logged in more time at the Division of Motor Vehicles than some women take to deliver a baby.
The odd thing is, by the end, I actually was entertained and had enjoyed myself. No, I wasn’t drinking or heavily sedated, just lucky.
A few days before my driver’s license expired, I found myself surrounded by a mass of people with no free time on their hands. Since my birthday was on a Monday, I needed to renew my license before the weekend. My husband had whizzed in and out to renew his a few months prior, so I didn’t think it would be any different.
On Thursday, I walked in fully showered, hair quaffed and even makeup applied.
Normally, these three acts of beauty don’t make a daily appearance, but there was no way I was going to have another embarrassing ID pic.
I advanced to the check-in desk with paperwork in hand. Proudly displaying my worn-out social security card, proof of address, and my passport, I expected a gold star atop my paper.
I was good to go! Or at least I thought. Thankfully, the woman at the desk looked over everything and politely pointed to the door before giving me a number and making me wait.
Apparently, my passport had expired the month earlier, causing it to be null and void.
“It says right here I’m a U.S. native. Here on my passport,” I showed to her, hoping my pleasantness would win her over.
“Nope! Bring me your birth certificate, and since you are married and your name has changed, bring in your marriage certificate,” said the woman in a tone that sent me into an instant coma, unable to understand her clear directions.
I added, “So if my passport hadn’t expired, I’d be okay with what I brought in?” The woman nodded in exhaustion. I’m sure I wasn’t the first millionth person to ask this.
At home, I dug through my important documents and — after repeating twice — began to panic.
How could I have gotten married without my birth certificate? How could I have lost it?
I’ll never be able to fly anywhere again or ever have fun!
I get a tad dramatic when I’m stressed, so I called my husband. No luck.
Called my father. Thankfully, he’s retired and didn’t have any urgent coffee meetings with buddies, so he graciously ran down to the bank and found my birth certificate in his safe deposit box.
Since he lives 40 minutes away, he offered to meet me halfway for the hand off, which felt a bit like a shady drug deal at the time. Expressing my thanks, I returned home.
I’d lost too many hours, so I’d have to wait until Friday to go back to the DMV.
I finally got it right the next morning, but, with it being a day when kids were out of school, most of the teachers and children who needed their permits were ahead of me — more than 50 people, actually. The gal at the front desk said the wait would be more than an hour.
She was right. It was really over an hour.
The first hour was fine. I ran errands, organized my schedule, and read emails. When I returned, I headed for the only empty chair in the place.
I started small talk with the gal to my right. She was friendly and funny, and looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her.
I found out it was her birthday, so I shared my story of the DL trek to meet my father. After some laughs, shared stories of past DMV’s gone wrong, and common work scenarios, she noticed from my proof of address. We lived by each other.
Not only did we almost have the same birthday, but also we lived a half-mile from each other and she runs past my house daily.
When the countdown for my number got close (an hour and a half later), we decided to cheer, do the wave and imagine confetti dropping from above. We soon parted ways, and I wished the mysterious woman a happy birthday.
It wasn’t hard to say goodbye, despite the nice few hours together. The chance of us running into each other at the store, or in my front yard was inevitable.
Plus, I’m certain we will do this again next time when we wait to the last minute to renew our licenses.
Stacey Hatton can be reached at www.laughingwithkids.com.