DMV Blues

I return from the “Appointments Only” line with a form. Of course there is a form. Which can’t be downloaded over the internet and pre-completed. I answer the questions, all except “What is your driver’s license number?” I don’t know. It was stolen. If I had my license, I wouldn’t be here. I try to turn in my form; it is given back to me with a ticket stapled to it: F078.

The electronic screen above the Appointments Only/No Appointment windows scrolls:

Fremont Appointment Wait Time: 0 hours, 0 minutes

Fremont Non-Appointment Wait Time: …

We watch as the brightly lit letters scroll one by one across the screen. “Take a guess. What do you think it will be?” “1 hour, 47 minutes,” she replies enthusiastically. We watch.

“o hours, 42 minutes,” the screen reveals.

Oakland Coliseum Appointment Wait Time: 0 hours, 0 minutes

Oakland Coliseum Non-Appointment Wait Time: 0 hours, 0 minutes

“What’s up with the Oakland Coliseum DMV? Why doesn’t anyone want to go there?”

Our attention shifts to another screen, a tv monitor with an unnatural blue screen populated with fuzzy white numbers.

Window 9: F076

“Hey, only two more then I’m up.” Our eyes are glued to the screen as numbers shift positions, new numbers appear. I feel as though I’m in an all night diner in Vegas, waiting for my Keno numbers to materialize.

Window 4: F077

“You’re next! I dare you to scream ‘You sank my battleship!’ when your number shows up. I dare you. How about a simple ‘BINGO!'” she challenges me. We are so easily amused.

Window 16: F078

I don’t scream, but I do jump up. Window 16. Where is Window 16? I walk around the corner and approach an overweight, sedentary DMV worker without a trace of personality. “Hi! I’m here to get a duplicate license. My wallet was stolen. Here’s my form.”

She takes it, stares at it, begins to input the information into her computer.

“Nineteen dollars.”

I count out exact change and hand it to her, still in the Korean habit of offering payment with both hands so as not to appear rude.

She takes it, prints a form, hands it to me and says, “You’ll get your duplicate in the mail in 6 weeks.”

No. No, no, no, no, no.

“Excuse me, where do I go to get my picture taken?”

The silver lining in the dismal cloud of getting my wallet stolen was that I would at least get a new picture to replace the monstrosity that I’ve toted around for years. I had woken up extra early to blow my hair straight. I had applied makeup. I had worn a bright pink sundress. I had come to the Hayward DMV. I was getting my picture taken.

“We use the picture on file.”

“Oh, but I’d really rather have a new picture taken. Should I step right over there?” I suggest, pointing to a blue backdrop.

“We use the picture on file, lady.”

“No, no, no. Do you see how cute I look today? I’d like my picture taken. I don’t want to waste a cute day.”

She didn’t seem to understand my argument for conservation of cute days. “We use the picture on file. You’ll get your duplicate in the mail in 6 weeks.”

No picture, no silver lining. Thank you, DMV.

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