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171 minutes later.
I made my way forward to the kiosk, but before taking that final step to begin conducting my business, I turned back to the ever-increasing swarm of people, many of whom had been there just as long, and I said with my preacher’s voice, “Assuming any of you actually go to church, remember this day the next time you get the urge to drop one of those little comment cards into the suggestion box near to your congregation’s front door. Remember this day when you feel the need to complain that the worship service is too long or that your pastor should work to shorten his sermons.”
I allowed a moment for the announcement to sink in. There were a few chuckles, and maybe a few uncomfortable coughs. An older woman in the front row, bearing a slight smirk, leaned forward and said in a partial hush, “Pray for us, Father.”
“I have been, my child,” I answered. “For three hours, I’ve prayed.”
Most of the folks just stared, but I didn’t care, and so I added one last time, “Remember this day.” With that, I turned to the clerk who’d only moments before called my number. She was frowning. Again, I didn’t care. The place has twelve stations, but only two people on duty. And of those two, she was the one who managed only one customer every twenty minutes while the other accomplished two in that same amount of time.
I know. I timed them both. But what else was I supposed to do? I used up all the juice in my smartphone by 10:45. Sure, there were TVs in the place, but the only thing showing on them were PowerPoint type slideshows about traffic safety. Did you know the average time it takes to glance at a cellphone while driving and cause an accident is three seconds? There also were a few cycling news clips from well before last year’s national election which only served to enhance the rage of the people in there who were beginning to feel as though they’d already been there for a year. I should mention that I counted all the ceiling tiles—727 in all, if you’re counting the tiny triangular ones as individual tiles.
Meanwhile, I was surrounded by all that serves to remind me how devolved our society has become.
Two rows ahead of me was a man holding a one-year-old girl and talking on his phone to who I’m guessing was his boss, trying to explain to him that he was at the DMV trying to get the license he needed but hadn’t yet acquired. From what I gauged, he was dealing with a couple of DUIs as well as an arrest and conviction in Detroit sometime last year. To make the scene even more disheartening he took a moment to swear at his little girl each time she squirmed in uncomfortable boredom.
To my right was a woman. Having noticed that her number was 96, which was just after mine, I attempted to make friendly small talk.
“I’ll bet right before they call my number, the clerks are going to go to lunch,” I said, leaning slightly toward her. “That would be just perfect for us, wouldn’t it?” She acknowledged my words with a glance and an awkward grin, but then put her face even more closely to the “People” magazine in her hands in order to let me know she wanted nothing to do with me.
To this woman’s right was another woman—a mother—who tapped at her smartphone while her three-year-old son sat popping open an empty Pez dispenser and staring into oblivion. No talking. No attempt at engaging the lad. She was too busy talking to her virtual friends.
Behind me, leaning against the wall, was a heavier set man who I’m guessing ate an entire bag of Chalupas from Taco Bell before arriving. Every now and then he’d let a little fart go, and with each release, he’d shift his stance and glance around the room as if observing something important. I got the sense that he truly believed none of the people around him could hear what he was doing. Calm and cool, he stood. There were a few moments when I found it necessary to put my face into my sleeve.
The whole experience was truly hell on earth. In fact, I’m pretty sure I read about this place in Dante’s Inferno. The only thing that could have made the experience worse would have been for me to hear my number called and then to arrive at the kiosk to discover I didn’t have all of the items required for my transaction—and then to be startled awake by one of the gaseous breezes from the man behind me, revealing that I’d only dreamt that my number had been called and I was still sitting in the plastic chair near the back of the room.
By the way, I shouldn’t forget to mention that in the midst of my transaction with the slowest clerk in the place, a man emerged from a back office and told her to take her lunch after she was done with me.
Take that, you cold-hearted-anti-social-People-Magazine-reading lady in the back of the room.
Oh my. Did I just write that? Do you see what a morning at the DMV has done to me? Oh, these poor people.
The next time I need to purchase transportation, I’m buying a horse instead. Or a goat. Or even some ice skates. I’d rather strap ice skates to my feet and struggle against the pothole infested pavement we call roads here in Michigan—anything to stay the hell out of the DMV. And besides, as a means of transportation, ice skates would probably work here in Michigan since we experience winter’s frigid darkness for at least eight months of the year. We certainly have a lot more of winter than we do summer.
Speaking of ice skates and “more than less” circumstances, I wish I had a lot more of this Wayne Gretzky Canadian Whisky Ice Cask edition than what’s in this kindly sample I received from my friend, George. This served as a fine calming agent following the experience I described above.
A swirl and a sniff reveals the whisky’s impending sweetness. Essentially, it’s honied cognac and some concord jam.
It’s easy on the palate, too, carrying along the sweetness already described. But then in that moment between the savor and swallow, a heftier dough-like batter arrives, bringing along with it a dash of nutmeg and rye.
The finish—a pleasant sweet cream married to the concord jam from the nosing—totters in length between short and medium.
Unlike my purgatorial time at the DMV. By the way, forget about the ice skates and instead think on a name for my goat.