Ahhh… airport terminals. When you think about it, they’re not that different from the DMV… which I can attest to, since I’ve experienced hiccups on both air and land. And both incidents were quite memorable to say the least. On a recent flight, I was isolated in a glass box on a trip back from The Empire State. Did I magically turn into a mime or zoo animal for them to lock me up? Forget about the guy who just threw his bin with his laptop and cologne at me after being asked to go through the full body scanner for the second time… forget about questioning the nature of his trip. Of course angry man is not a threat to society. Of course angry man did not almost tear my hands off with his rage. No… Instead, let’s go after the innocent… even after she so sweetly removed her belt and shoes, following the TSA’s regulations. It’s enough to have to practically undress in front of strangers, but then to continuously be humiliated, and stuck in a cage… well, it got me to thinking about another fairly new experience. Allow me to raise the question: How different is an airport terminal from the trials and tribulations at the DMV?
Having recently moved to the area in the past year, I was in need of a new driver’s license. Acquainting myself with the DMV’S guidelines for obtaining a new license, I arrived a little before noon, hoping to beat the lunch crowd. Nice thought. Unfortunately, the line formed to see my man Herb was at least 20 people deep… not to mention the already filled seats in the waiting area. After waiting the 30 minutes or so to be seen, I was told that my former driver’s license wasn’t going to cut it. I would need my social security card, also. Well, crap. While I did read the requirements on-line the night before, in my hurry to get to my date with Herb on time, I realized in a simultaneous flashback that I had left my social security card on the kitchen table. I could practically see my card sitting there… waiting there with its hand on its hip… wondering why I had forgotten it. Stepping out of line, I promised to return shortly.
Arriving back at the DMV 30 minutes later, the line must have quadrupled in the short amount of time I left to retrieve my card. In line for a good 45 minutes, I was finally an arm length away from my friend Herb. Close enough to smell his cheap aftershave. Sweating slightly, I displayed the last of my paperwork. I couldn’t help but stand there proud, success forming itself into a smile across my face. “I’ll just need to see your proof of address change.” Darn it. He never told me that I needed to bring that with me. “Sir, you never said I needed to bring that with me.” Pause. “Ma’am, yes, I did. When you were here, I told you that you would need to bring with you three things: Your driver’s license, social security card and change of address.”
“No, you didn’t,” I responded. “If you did, I clearly would have brought all three things with me.”
“Ma’am, there is no need for you to get angry here,” Herb said, pumping out his chest with a wheeze of breath and attempting to increase his 5 foot 4 frame above mine. He continued, “I specifically stated that you will need to bring with you three things: your driver’s license…” Pause. “Social security card…” Another dramatic pause. “And confirmation of your address change. Now, if you can come back with some proof that you reside in the state of North Carolina, I will be happy to let you move forward,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. Nonverbal translation: Get your stuff and get out of here.
“Once again, it would have been really great if you had told me those three things in the first place,” I repeated. I stood there hoping to display the same condescending air in my tone, same intimidation in my stature. Nonverbal translation: I will not put up with your attitude.
A minute later, and with my head down, I was back out at my car. Staring at the wheel, I contemplated where I could find proof of an address change, hoping that it would miraculously appear in my car so I wouldn’t have to make the drive home, again. A gossip magazine subscription floating somewhere in the backseat? A recent birthday card addressed to me? But alas! My insurance card, of course! What was I thinking? Certainly, Herb will accept this evidence.
Throwing open the glove box and withdrawing my golden ticket, I sprinted back to the line of 50 people. Surely, my buddy won’t make me get back in line since I only stepped out two seconds ago… surely, he can see my sweat, blood and tears. Literally, seeing how I stubbed my toe on my way back.
“You have to wait in line,” Herb jeered. Simple and right to the point. Much like his nose.
Cheers were heard throughout the room by my fellow linemen… clearly no longer my comrades. I guess understandable at this time of night. One less person meant one step closer to dinnertime.
An hour later, feeling defeated and no energy left in me to smile, I produced the last of the paperwork and was told I could sit in the waiting room. That’s funny. Hadn’t I already done enough waiting?
Another hour and a half later, and I was on my way to getting my new driver’s license. Except there would be no license today. Perhaps if I was given some advance notice from my pal Herb about the written test that was to take place, I could have saved myself a lot of anguish. I guess it did make sense after seeing all those people in the waiting room with a packet produced by Herb. Where was my book? Real interesting, Herbie. But not to worry, I took my first driver’s license test over 12 years ago, I would pass with flying colors. The big red X popped up on my screen at the same moment the 16-year-old kid to my right got a swooping hug from his mother. Glad one of us aced it. I could practically see the crowd lifting him up on their shoulders… fists pumping… their king crowned. The roles of the pauper and jester played by myself and Herb. Walking out of the DMV with my head down, I glanced up to see the green venom seeping out of the corners of Herb’s mouth. Obviously, my freshly applied makeup was not going to be in a photo shoot today. “Don’t forget to study next time,” final words following me into the star-filled night.
To Be Continued…