Saturday, August 28, 2010

Songs for the DMV

Last Saturday morning, at approximately 7:58 a.m., I arrived at the Department of Motor Vehicles for the 8:00 opening. I say that everyone, rich or poor, must visit the DMV and I find it to be a fascinating people watching experience. On this particular morning, I thought about calling TLC and having them dispatch a camera crew from What Not to Wear to the facility ASAP, for instance. Most people dread their visits to the DMV, and it’s not even clever but more cliché to joke about how grumpy the workers there are. There is some evidence of the general unhappiness of the patrons at the facility: one sign warns not to use abusive language toward the employees, and don’t even thinking about bribing a worker. Also, you can leave your debit card at home and dig out your dusty checkbook instead. I particularly enjoy the situations where the security guard must intervene when someone becomes belligerent because they have not brought the proper paperwork, which is a trick in itself.

Nonetheless, there I was on Saturday morning and to my surprise and delight, I had a short and enjoyable experience. For instance, none of the workers I encountered made me feel badly that my license had actually expired five months earlier, as pointed out to me by a bank teller recently when she demanded identification for me to withdraw $20 from my daughter’s account. Never mind that I was depositing $80 cash into a different child’s account and could have just stolen that from my son if I’d wanted. My second pleasant experience occurred at the window where you have to update any personal information. I very bravely informed her that my weight might be just a bit higher than it was last time, but to my surprise she shaved a couple pounds off the number I gave her, closer to what she probably guessed is my goal weight. She also studied my hair and changed the color from boring brown to auburn- much better! Finally, the camera lady took three pictures of me before settling on one she was happy with. The first she declared looked too much like a mug shot, which didn’t bother me but seemed to bother her. In the second picture I apparently I have my eyes closed. By the time we got to the third photo, her coworker had joined the effort and they actually had me laughing. I think my real picture would most accurately be something in between a mug shot and laughing, but I admired the work she put into the whole thing.

You might notice the next time you’re at the DMV that while most of the adults look very unhappy, there is another group who is extremely excited to be there, and they are all 16 years old. Since we have a number of teenagers in our house right now, there are ample opportunities to visit the DMV as each child requires a minimum of two visits, one to get a permit and the other to get the actual license. Two visits is the best case scenario; if you forget any paperwork or the teenager does not pass either the written test or the road test, the experience must be repeated at a later time. Being the supportive mother that I am, I made it very clear to my children that they were expected to pass the written test on the first try, and I tried to position them as best I could for a positive outcome to the road test. So far, so good: two kids have their license in only four total visits. Let’s hope for the best with the other two; we’ll likely be headed back for child #3’s permit in early 2011.

While I was waiting for my number to be called last Saturday, I saw numerous youngsters anxiously leaving to take their road test, all on this particular morning returning happily, though I imagine that could be a tearful return in other instances. I started to think about how nice it might be to have encouraging music playing, not only to pump up the kids for their road tests but also just to make things more pleasant for the rest of us. Here are my suggestions- there’s something for everyone!

Shut Up and Drive – Rihanna

Roll on Down the Highway – Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

Drive Slow – Kanye West, feat. Paul West & GLC

Car Wash – Rose Royce

Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen

Long Road Home – Sheryl Crow

Drive In Drive Out – Dave Matthews Band

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