At the DMV

It recently occurred to me that my driver's license was about to expire.  By "recently," I mean "seven months and three days after it expired."  Not wanting to risk getting a ticket, I went immediately to the "DMV," which stands for "Devils, Maniacs, and Villains."

I have found that at the DMV there are folks who are very cheerful and friendly.  These are the people who have just arrived at the place.  Two hours into the line, everyone is a fascist, full of righteous anger at everybody else just for existing.

The first step for me is to get into a line designed for people who need to be told they are in the wrong line.  I'm advised that the woman behind the counter is there only for individuals wishing to obtain a license to drive a vehicle shaped like a giant hotdog in a bun.

"Does that even ever happen?" I demand of her.

She shrugs.  "Once."

"Wouldn't it make sense for you to handle other types of driver's license?" I press.

She nods.  "I also do cars shaped like sausages."

I decide to wait in the queue for the man at the Information kiosk. He's the sort of person who is always holding his head, as if containing an impending explosion.  I approach cautiously.

"Can you tell me which line is for obtaining a new driver's license?" I ask him.

He squeezes his head, turning his eyes into slits.  "What kind of driver's license?  For a truck?  Wingless airplane?  Wiener mobile?"

"Just for a car," I assure him.

"What kind of car?" he counters.

"What?  Oh, a Ford."

"What color."

"What color?  White, it's white."

He runs his hands up the sides of his head so that his hair sticks out between his fingers in mad-looking squirts.  "Two door or four door?"

"Two door.  Look..."


"Huh?  No, it's a hardtop."

"A two door white Ford hardtop," he reiterates.


He shakes his head by moving his hands back and forth.  "We don't have a special line for something like that."

"What do you mean?  Lots of people drive cars like that!" I demand agitatedly.

"We don't break it out by car type.  If you want a driver's license, it doesn't matter what kind of car you drive.  Unless obviously it is shaped like a hotdog or something," he explains patiently.

The next person I talk to is much more helpful.  "First we need to do an eye test.  Can you see the eye chart behind me?"

I spot a completely blank sheet of paper suspended over her head. "Yes, but I can't actually see anything on it," I tell her.

"Oh, that's okay.  It used to have little symbols, but those were offensive to people who thought some of the symbols might be interpreted as religious.  Then we had  letters, but that was offensive to people who couldn't read.  Then we just had different sized dots, but that was offensive to people who are offended by different sized dots.  So we decided to go with a blank sheet of paper."  She peers at me.  "You're not offended, are you?"

"Heavens, no."

"Good.  Come back when you've finished your written test."

"There's a test?  I didn't know there would be a test."

She shrugs.

"Look, I'm...I'm very offended by the idea there's a test."

She snaps her gum.  "Nice try."

I am handed a sheet of paper and a test booklet, and I slink off to a small room divided into cubbyholes.  Well, even without studying, I figure I've been driving for years, and probably can intuit my way through the exam.

Question one:  When driving a six-axle live animal transport with Gross Vehicle Weight greater than 8,000 lb down a 6%-grade multi-lane highway, you are required to maintain a brake line hydraulic pressure of  (blank) PSI. "Psst," the guy in the cubbyhole next to me hisses.  "What's the Gross Vehicle Weight for a car shaped like a hot dog?"

"With or without the bun?" I shoot back.  He gives me a panicked expression.

After failing the test, I wind up in another line.  Waiting for the pay phone.

To call for a ride home.

~ Bruce Cameron ~

[ By: W. Bruce Cameron Copyright © 2005 -- {used with permission} ]


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