I had to get my license renewed this year, for the first time in 10 years. And because I'd done it by mail last time, I actually had to haul my carcass down the the state building and do it in person. It was probably a good idea, because the photo on my license was horribly out-dated. I mean, I had long hair back then....no, wait, that's the same. Okay, my hair was brown back then....uh, at what point do you have to switch over from saying your hair is brown to saying it's grey? My weight has changed....oh, wait, that's NEVER been accurate before, so why start now? My eyes are still brown...and kind of bloodshot. To top it off, I kept blinking when the photographer took the photo, so I got to do it again and again, with a line of people waiting for me to just stop blinking and get it done.
I'd been dreading this errand, having heard many horror stories about the long wait, and being asked for proof of something or other that no one thinks to carry with them. A utility bill? Sure, I collect those, but they're home in my hermetically sealed vault! A fishing license? Yes, I do happen to have one on me; from 2010. (In all honesty, all they needed was something to prove my mailing address, and as it turns out, my checkbook would suffice.)
I was prepared to make a day of it. I had a book with me. I felt pretty sure I wouldn't starve to death, but didn't dare bring water, for fear I'd just have to go to the bathroom and lose my place in line. The meter where I parked had a time limit of 2 hours, which, as I was plugging in my coins, I hoped wasn't too optimistic on the part of the person who decides what maximum time each meter gets.
What a sad and frustrating place. During the one and a half hours I sat there, I heard one of the workers defend herself on the phone, "I was not being snotty, ma'am, I'm just telling you what you need in order to get a driver's license." At one point, they had to ask a little old lady who had waited over an hour to come back with a note from her doctor before they'd renew her license. They had to ask her rather loudly, "when is the last time you saw your doctor?" A teenager sitting next to me said, not so loudly, "when is the last time you hit someone with your car and didn't know it?" Then she (and her parent) laughed at her own wit. Someday, I thought, if you live long enough, that comment could be hurled in your direction. Sadly, I don't think there's any way the little old lady should be driving; she seemed so confused by the time she was done talking to them that she had to be pointed toward the exit. And any doctor who gives her such a note should probably be asked to spend some time at the driver's licensing office as punishment.
Then a Spanish-speaking man with one leg many inches shorter than the other came in with a little boy about 9 years old (probably taken out of school for this duty) who was obviously there to translate for him. He needed to take the driving test, and didn't have all the paper work he needed (proof of insurance, registration, etc.) so he had to leave and go get it and come back. Just walking across the room looked like a hard thing for him.
Then an old man who'd had an accident was being required by the police to retake the written AND driving test in order to keep his license. His shoe was untied and I was afraid he was going to step on the laces and fall down.
The last thing I had to do was have that new, up-to-date photo taken. I tried to tilt my head up, to reduce the likelihood that any extra chins might want to jump into the photo with me, but the photographer told me to lower my chin. I think he said "chin" and not "chins", but that could just be wishful thinking. The fact that I kept blinking when he tried to snap the photo made the other people waiting in line chuckle, though, so at least some good came of it. Maybe that was my good deed for the day.
And when I got to my car, I still had 13 minutes left on the meter. Way to go, Parking Meter Maximum Time Setter Person!