I realized that people in Plant City really like camouflage. Plant City is a sort-of-but-not-really rural community outside of Tampa. It used to be rural, but the suburbs of Tampa have crept closer and closer year by year. It is actually a pretty good-sized town now. It has a Wal-mart and even has a 24-hour Starbucks. So, no, I would not say it is truly rural. However, people there wear a lot of camouflage. I never realized this before until today when I was surrounded by a sea of prints.
Another thing I realized is that no one normal hangs out in the DMV. This is true of the Social Security office, too. Have you ever noticed it? If you ever want to find the strangest, skuzziest (Wow! My spellchecker recognizes that as a word!), weirdest people in town, go to the DMV or SS office. Don’t normal people have to renew their licenses or pay for new tags on their cars? Do they hire weird people to do it for them? I’m not sure. All I know is there is always lots to watch at the DMV. You never know who is about to walk through that door, and there’s no telling what they’ll be wearing. (Although, in Plant City, chances are good that it will involve camouflage.)
I also realized that it’s a good thing there is a lot to watch, because you’re going to be there for a very long time. Whether there are 3 or 30 people sitting in the waiting room, you might as well make yourself comfortable. You know how McDonald’s times their drive-thru service and sets goals for their employees to fill orders in a ridiculously quick amount of time? I’m pretty sure the DMV does the opposite. I think maybe their employees are paid a bonus based on how long they can make people wait.
When we got there, there were only 5 numbers ahead of ours. Of course, we were B038. The numbers also included A221, C325, D533, E912 and F572. So, to think we only had 5 people ahead of us was misleading. We sat down and tried to figure out the system. It seemed as though 3 windows were taking B numbers, so it didn’t look like our wait would be too long. At one window was a little old man; we’ll call him, “Mr. Rambling.” He was there when we arrived, and he was still there when we left. I’m not sure what he was talking about, but the poor Number One Clerk looked glazed over. I’m pretty sure he gave her the entire history of where the car was built, who invented the original design, how the parts were shipped over from China, how he proposed to his wife and more. I almost felt sorry for the clerk. Then, I realized that it was payback for the wait time.
We heard the soothing computer voice say, “Now serving B034 at window 3.” I have to say this is an improvement from the former, “NEXT!” that we would have heard in days gone by. However, after you’ve heard that soothing voice 100 times in 5 minutes, it is not nearly as soothing as you would think it would be. I started to feel like The Voice was being condescending to me. I thought I was going to have to give The Voice my angry eyes.
“Now serving B034 at window 3.” We were so excited. Things were moving along nicely. The voice kept calling numbers, but none of them started with B. I started to feel like the little aliens in “Toy Story” waiting for The Claw (Wow. Two “Toy Story” references in one blog. I should get out more often to see a movie.)
Finally, B037 was called. That meant we were next! At B window number 2, an angry visitor looked like she was finishing up. We were next. I could feel it. Mrs. Angry left the window, and the clerk continued what she was doing on her computer. That was okay. She was just finishing up that business so she could give us her undivided attention. So I thought. Then, just as I was gathering my personal belongings and moving to the window, Number 2 Clerk turned and went on break. So close, yet so far away.
We sat and waited for the B visitor at the third window to finish up. Mr. Rambling was still talking at the first window. Number 2 Clerk was probably off enjoying a latte while we waited. Finally, the third B window was available. I didn’t get my hopes up. It was a good thing, because I would have been disappointed. Number 3 Clerk also got up and left for a break. I’m pretty sure he was going to share a muffin with Number 2 Clerk. Only the unfortunate clerk with Mr. Rambling was left serving the B numbers. We didn’t stand a chance of being served.
I stood up and yelled, “B038! That’s me! I win!” No one even responded. (I really wanted to yell like that, but I was too shy.) Actually, I waited until I got the window to say it, but I did say it loudly when I got there. The clerk gave me a half-smile and tried not to reveal the fact that she thought I was crazy. She began to help us, and we were finished in no time. For once, the computers were not moving slowly. Have you ever noticed how they always say, “I’m sorry. The computers are moving slowly today,” to excuse their inefficiency? Well, not today. Today was our lucky day. As we left, we walked my Mr. Rambling, who had moved on to telling Number 1 Clerk about his granddaughter’s dance recital back in 1982. I just smiled at the clerk as I walked by. She didn’t see me. Her eyes had rolled back in her head. Maybe she should have tried sitting in The Slouch. Her luck might have changed. -Al