License to swear

Before and after.

Last month the state Department of Transportation sent me a letter telling me to get a new driver’s license photo.

Although my license is good until 2034, apparently it’s state law that you have to update your photo every dozen years. I’m not going to quibble with their math (although I’ve been an Arizona resident since 1997). Nor will I dwell on how the offices are open only on weekdays (which has got to be a pain for more people than just me.). I’ll just say that I found myself in Maryvale a few weeks ago, and it was excruciating.

I’ve joked about living in “the avenues” before, but it wasn’t so funny when I realized that the closest MVD location to my house was at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. “I’m sure there are lovely Maryvalians to be found,” I said between gritted teeth, wending my way down Indian School, over the train tracks, past all the llanteras and pay phones. “You are stereotyping an area and you haven’t even been over here that much.”

Inside the MVD office, they split you into groups — “A” for people who just need licenses, “B” for those who need testing, and so on — and there were 34 people in front of me in the “A” group. So I hunkered down with a clipboard and started filling out my paperwork.

Then I started noticing how many people were swearing.

Now, I’m not a prig, and have been known to bust out the F-bomb on occasion, but the profanity in that joint was relentless — people on the phone, people talking to their friends, and especially the mother/daughter combo next to me cursing up a storm at each other. I had never heard that much casual, continuous swearing in my life.

It made them sound so trashy that I stopped what I was doing and eavesdropped on their conversation so I could guess what they looked like before I glanced up to see for myself. The girl had spacers in her ears, which the mom thought were “raving ugly. What the rave do you have those for?” “Shut the rave up, Mom, you don’t know s—. I don’t give a rave what I look like.” “You look like raving trash, you know that?”

After an hour and a half, the MVD team had made it through 16 people in the “A” group, and I’d heard about the creepy guy from jail who showed up at a party and kept sneaking off to do push-ups, and the schoolmate she was going to beat up because she had given her money but didn’t get concert tickets in return. I was tired of playing Bejeweled, and right then a woman walked by and said, “Are you done with that clipboard?”

“Oh, sure,” I said, handing it over to her. Look at me, having a pleasant interaction! Helping others! Tolerance!

“Mmm-HMM,” she said, one step away. “People all over here looking for clipboards, and here you be, holding on to one like it’s your own.”

Did I mention she worked there?

I am a tolerant person. I give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to live by the Golden Rule — in fact, I have the Golden Rule license plates. But once I reach my limit, a little switch goes off in my head, and I say things such as:

“Well, if they’re anything like me, they’re looking at about a three-and-a-half-hour wait, minimum, so they’ve got plenty of time to find one. Maybe if you were behind a desk actually helping people, instead of walking around harassing them about  clipboards, the process would move a little bit faster.”

Trashy mom and daughter turned, shocked. “They’re gonna make you go to the end of the line for that,” mom said.

They didn’t. But I decided that if the first 16 people took an hour and a half, I had enough time to go grab lunch (and cool down). So I headed for a nearby Taco Bell, ordered in the drive-thru, ate (at Sam speed) in the car, and headed back to the MVD office, refreshed. Gone a half-hour, max.

When I walked in, they had passed my number. I was #A96, and they were on #A03. At first I didn’t believe it, but sure enough, somehow they had blown through 18 people in the half-hour I was out.

To get a new number, I’d have to go up to the front desk. Where the woman I had chewed out was now the sole employee.

Karmic retribution? Discuss amongst yourselves. I decided to call it a day.

Today I went to the Scottsdale location. Was third in line in the “A” group, got called within 3 minutes of finishing my paperwork, had my picture taken within 2 minutes after that, and had my new license in my hand and was out the door in less than 10 minutes.

Oh, and they don’t have clipboards there — customers stand at counters while they fill out the paperwork. Something your office might want to think about, you raving Maryville wench.

WHAT SAM WORE: 7-14-11
The shirt: University of Montana T-shirt, a gift from Mr. Brooks.
The shorts: Camouflage shorts by Mossimo, from Target.
The shoes: “Top Winner” sneakers by Puma, from the Puma store in New York.

5 responses to “License to swear

  1. I liked this story so much, I read it aloud to my wife. She was all like, “Oh no he di-int.” (BTW, I have quite the doozie to tell you involving the same MVD and a similar ending.)

  2. The sad thing is, I left that day thinking, “This is what you get for not Doing The Right Thing.” The assimilation is complete, and terrifying.

  3. Has anyone mentioned your new license photo looks a little Loughner-esque? Yikes!

    • That is the perfect word for it, Loughner-esque. I never thought my original license looked that much like me — very long face! — but when I saw this one, I remember thinking, “That looks like me, but a scary me.” They need to install better lighting!

  4. love this one!

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