Take Your Seat Please

chairs-143244_1280People, nowadays, are more impatient than ever. People hate waiting because they rarely have to. Information, about anything, can be accessed within minutes. Family meals can be prepared within 3-5 car lengths of a drive-thru window. Photos can be instantly viewed and shared. Messages can be sent and viewed within seconds.

As we all know though, there are times when you will have to wait. For me, it was a two-hour wait at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. First of all, my long wait had everything to do with me; which made it even more annoying. I could not, for the life of me, find my Driver’s License. There’s a strong suspicion though that it ran off with my Costco card, because that’s missing too! I’m sure that I will find it months later in an old wallet, purse, or bag.

In life, my waiting time has decreased over recent years. Online services are my first-choice in almost everything that I do, from banking to shopping. It just makes life easier. However, I learned that online services are not an option when replacing a lost or stolen license. That was my first error—losing my license. Secondly, I did not make an appointment, like I have done for past visits. However, I was really hoping to find my license, so that I wouldn’t have to go. Well, I didn’t; so, since I had a recent Friday off, I used this time to go to the DMV office.

If you have never been to the DMV office, let me enlighten you with my experience. The double doors open to a room of drab and drear, and the only people that seem to be smiling are the teenagers who just got their first driver’s license. Partitions form a quadrilateral in the middle of the room. Each one faces the outside of the room with a small overhang for use as a counter. At opposite ends of the room are the ever-loving DMV cameras. Anyone who has ever taken a driver’s license photo knows, that this is one of the most viewed photos that you will ever take. To the left of the entrance is the Start Here line and to the right are the rows of connecting chairs. Many of them are occupied with a scowl-faced human holding a clipboard. Nowadays, though, more are filled with people hanging their heads to look at their smartphones. My pet peeve is that ONE person who thinks that it is okay to have a phone conversation. Not everyone wants to know your personal business, people.

So, it began. An overly cheerful receptionist at the Start Here area greeted me. She was wearing a headband with stars springing about 2 inches above her head and said, “Hello, I see that we both have the same father.” I looked at her puzzled and thought What is she talking about? She pointed to her cross necklace and then pointed towards mine and chuckled, “I get people with that one every time.” I smiled and then got my appropriate paperwork.

With a clipboard and DMV form in hand, I made my way to the counter. After 15 minutes, the star-wearing receptionist told all of us that were standing to find a seat. She literally pointed to each empty seat in the sea of scowl. My home for the next two hours was in the front row. I found that I looked at the people across from me more than those that were right next to me.

Let’s be honest, enclosed waiting spaces can be interesting. There are many unwritten rules when waiting in a large group, especially a seated group. Do not look at the person to your right or left for any length of time, unless you are having a conversation with them. It’s just creepy. Do not stare at the person’s paperwork, phone, book, or anything else in their hand or lap. Do not try talking to someone who gives you a short answer to your first question. Chances are, they don’t want to be bothered. Do not have a phone conversation in a quiet waiting room. Walk outside. Turn your ringer low, so others don’t have to hear the constant pinging of your text alerts. Lastly, I do not want to feel your leg or shoulder against mine. Keep your personal space.

So, how does this end? Well, after two plus hours, my number is announced. I make my way to the counter near the camera. Oh no! A new photo! I really liked my driver’s license picture from eight years ago, so I was dreading taking a new one. The whole process of replacing my license took less than 10 minutes and I got to keep my old photo. I walked out of the DMV office, relieved to feel the sun on my face again. Knowing that I will never, ever, get that time back, I looked for the lesson of the day. Do NOT lose my driver’s license again!

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