Thursday, August 24, 2006
Revenue Office ... Yay!
The last time I renewed my driver's license, I was in Oklahoma and it was before they switched to the new ones. So for a couple years I've had this ID that you could swear was made in someone's basement. I'd had it a couple years, so it was starting to look even worse. So I decided to go get a new license.
I'm one of those people whose whole perception of life has been heavily influenced by TV. I actually believe infomercials and I have been known to get up immediately after a Sonic commercial to go get a cheeseburger. So this seems odd coming from me, but I really thought they were exaggerating when they showed people at the DMV or the Revenue Office on TV. They always show these terribly sad places where lines don't move and people never smile. I thought, "Surely it's not that bad."
I was SO wrong. I went to the Springdale Revenue Office, which is in a crappy little shopping center on 412. Walking in, I was greeted by one of those machines where you take a number. This machine had clearly seen years of faithful service, telling thousands of people "You're going to be here awhile and we don't really care." The panels covering the flourescent lights were dingy and some of them were home to various insects. In the rows of chairs sat the best of Springdale. Most of them sat hunched over, resigned to their fate of treading through an unavoidably tedious process for something as simple as a car tag. I think I actually saw cobwebs on some of them; though based on their apparently cavalier approach to hygiene, I'm not certain they didn't bring those in with them.
I was instantly dismayed upon seeing the number machine. Then after surveying the situation a little more, I saw the "express line" for renewals and for ID's. Score! But there were seven people already in the "express line." Regardless, it had to be a better option than the godforsaken number machine. After standing in the "express line" for almost half an hour, I realized that it wasn't actually any faster than the take-a-number approach. Once again, I had been fooled by the system. At least those who had opted for a number got to sit down.
Finally, I made it to the front of the "express line." Without really looking at the lady, I hand her my old ID and my passport and my $20 and I tell her I need an Arkansas driver's license. Then I looked at her and had one of those moments where I hoped my sudden displeasure had not registered on my face. I know, I know, the words "displeasure" and "revenue office" pretty much go together, but I was taken aback at her eyes. She had googly eyes! If you're not familiar with googly eyes then a) where the hell have you been? and b) see the artist's rendering at the top of this post.
I don't care who you are, googly eyes will catch you off guard and at least some degree of shock will come across you. I find it extremely difficult to take anyone with googly eyes seriously. Do they know they have googly eyes?
Anyway, as if that weren't enough, she was kind enough to provide a running commentary on the entire process. Also, she apparently had not yet grasped the concept of compound sentences. It went something like this:
COOKIE MONSTER: Oklahoma ... expires February 2007.
ME: Sure does.
COOKIE MONSTER: Passport ... expires May 2009.
ME: Sounds right.
COOKIE MONSTER: Went to El Salvador.
ME: That is correct.
COOKIE MONSTER: Got blonde hair. Wear corrective lenses. Born in '83.
COOKIE MONSTER: Lived on Birkenhead. Middle name is Marie. Birthday in January. You're an organ donor.
ME: Yeah ... I know.
COOKIE MONSTER: I'll fill out this information here. I'll put this stamp here. I'll tear on this dotted line. Sign right here.
ME (under my breath as I sign): You gotta be kidding me.
COOKIE MONSTER: Sit down right there. Gonna take your picture here. Gonna focus the camera. Okay, took your picture. Gonna push this little button. I'll put this piece onto this other piece. I have googly eyes. (she didn't really say that last part)
After she finished with the play-by-play on making my new license, I gave the number machine one last scornful look and hightailed it out of there. I had to get far away fast from the most effective reminder yet that hell is probably just a huge waiting room where your number never gets called.