I spent the better part of 30 minutes yesterday hanging out at my local Secretary of State office, which wasn’t too bad because this particular branch is located inside of a local shopping mall with a name like “Crossplane Village” or something, a place even more glamorous than it sounds unless you’ve actually been there. This particular mall branch shares a hallway with Armed Forces recruiting center, a coffee shop, a bathtub reglazing display, and a vast array of convincing but still fake trees. “Hot diggidy”, you’re probably thinking, “it’s not like waiting won’t be full of things to do”, to which I agree thanks in part to the coffee place. Also, I’m now seriously considering joining the Marines, but only after reglazing my shower walls.
After a few minutes of roaming I ducked into the office where a really nice lady would soon renew my license for four more years of driving in Michigan, which is certainly a privilege and not a right. This is something they drill into your heads in driver’s ed, just as they teach that I will never ever ever have a personalized license plate that says SAM PLE. That one is taken by someone else, perhaps the “Employee of the Month” at this office. Yes. They would need to rotate license plates every 30 days or so, but they being who they are, I don’t foresee any major complications.
My number (35) came up, and when it did I shouted “Bingo”, in full assurance that I was the first person ever to think of this clever yet out of place zinger. Upon later reflection and in seeing it in print here on RadBlog, I now seriously regret ever shouting something so horrible, so predictable, and so witless. I apologize to the entire governmental system on all levels, and admit that it was a poor SAM PLE of judgment on my part. Ba. Doom. Ching.
I approached the counter of mystery. Most State offices have something like this, where you walk up to a person and they look at you for 0.4 seconds yet could change every second to come by the flick of a pen, rubber stamp or SAM PLE license plate over the head. It is a moment filled with awe, wonder and fear, knowing that I am starting at that moment what could be the hardest test that day, since this guy has the power to take away my privilege, one of many that I enjoy, leaving me to have to get a ride home from the mall by one of those Army Recruiter guys. With that kind of focused time, I’m sure I’d end up signing a triple-service deal that would make it so that my retirement years were spent on a Coast Guard boat off the coast of Marquette. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’d enjoy it, but how much fun would it be on Shore Leave, where every other Coast Guard officer gets in their cars while I have to (sigh) carpool because of my lack of license. NO. Because of my lack of privilege.
This is a big moment, the drivers license renewal. Secretary of State officer Gus has the authority to shut me down or to let me operate a vehicle for another four years. This test will be a thorough screening of my abilities to do many things, including reading the top line. I find myself driving and thinking “boy, it sure is good to be able to read the top line as I’m driving.” Thus the purpose of this test. It also is an opportunity to wow officer Gus with my incredible ability to detect blinking lights that are to my left and right, one time even foreseeing their blinking before they actually blinked, a prophecy that cost me roughly 5 points.
A few moments later, and it’s time for the picture. That’s a test I can pass, as long as it looks like me when we’re done. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if they mixed my picture up with a lady from Rives Junction, which would be awkward for both of us since she is probably not going to look right in my clothes and I need corrective lenses. I ask you: what are the odds that her eyeglass prescription will match mine? I ask you.
But this didn’t happen. I saw the license “proof” on the computer “screen” and said “Thanks”. And then, as if a last moment of exerting control over my privilege, officer Gus cut the corner off of my existing license and stapled a piece of paper to it. He cut the corner right off. It was like an Old Testament ceremony, one which I will not reference here but can be easily answered by a member of the cloth. I am now marked as having a renewal… of my license. And on the way out of the mall, I consider once again the benefits of fake plants.