Friday, June 29, 2012

Department of Public Safety

Steve Here -

I couldn’t resist a blog post today after taking a break of more than a year from blogging.  Over time I’ve decided my kids are more important and likely more interesting than my ramblings; but I had the most interesting experience this week at the Department of Public Safety attempting to renew my license.

Like all State institutions that specialize in Drivers Licensing this one is housed in a small uncomfortable outdated building with very small windows that were likely left over from the jail construction project in 1982.  My license doesn’t expire until September; but I’m a Texan and with our planned short-term move to Oklahoma, I wanted to keep my Texas license. I put it off as long as I could, and Thursday morning was the appointed time.

The place doesn’t open until 8AM.  I arrived at 7:40; and while I knew there would be some early risers waiting in line, I didn’t expect 37 of them.  Oh yes! 37 people of varying classes waiting in various states of comfort for the magical doors to open.  Some were in lawn chairs, others were on the ground.  One smart grandma had her grandson out there while she waited in the Buick completing her crossword. (My Great Uncle Vernon loved to make a joke about never having seen a Buick without a gray hair at the wheel.  Then he would cackle away with his contagious laugh!  I miss him.)

After I took my place a young man gathered in right behind me.  I had no idea the treat I was in for.  He had the appearance of a wanna-be gangster that probably has spent some time in the big house.  He was about 25 with numerous tattoos, pants that were hanging far too low and a loud-carrying voice.  I busily worked on my emails from the week on my phone while he began trying to engage me in conversation. I answered his questions curtly, then a young lady (I think) joined in behind him.  They hit it off immediately.  He began sharing many uncomfortable details about himself, including his recent (as predicted) stay in jail in Galveston due to an unpaid traffic ticket.  “I didn’t have the money, Cuz!” he said as he lit up a cigarette.

Smoking in the DPS line is surely not in line with the etiquette standards of Humble Texas, but the more time I spent around “Rims” (yes, that’s what he refers to himself as) the more I learned he has no couth. 

As he continued his attempts at wooing the young lady behind him, he began rapping – mind you he forgot most of the words so there were lots of “da da do dos” in the middle of some rhymes that made me think this guy needed church.

Mid-rhyme a deaf guy came through the line handing out slips of paper explaining he was selling crosses as a source of income. (There were also some basic signs depicted on the back.)  Most people declined to purchase as he came back through to collect them.  Then there was Rims.  Rims spent his time practicing some of the depicted signs and managed to get across the fact that he had no money but would love an orange cross.  The friendly hearing-impaired fellow agreed to gift him the cross, and they hugged it out.  I was shocked!

All this in the first 20 minutes!  Then the doors opened like magic, and we all filed into the entry and into the waiting area.  Then out comes the standard-issue DPS agent with her 70s hairdo and unhappy face, instructing us that we have created a fire hazard and that we needed to back up into the entry.  Mind you they could have stopped this from happening from the get go, but I’ve determined they get some sort of excitement out of exercising their power as we work through ‘their’ process.

Once I was comfortably squished in the entry, Rims realized that a Hispanic fellow remained in the main lobby despite having arrived some time after us.  He began to rile up the group in dissatisfaction then turned into the savior that was going to right this wrong.  He confidently marched into the lobby and tried to school this guy on the importance of the line.  The Hispanic man claimed to not understand English, and Rims turned around in defeat.

Not allowing her frustration to go without resolution, a black woman decided to really give this guy what for.  She marched in there and proved herself to be a beacon of assertiveness.  She did everything short of grabbing his hand and escorting him out.  Still it was an epic failure.  He remained.

Rims then started on a rant about why this guy doesn’t belong in this country.  After a few confirming remarks from the crowd, he expanded his insults to most minorities, individually finding faults with many races.  Being so close to him and giving Amy a play by play via text, I was beginning to get pretty uncomfortable and embarrassed for him.  Turns out that wasn’t necessary.  He was the preacher and the crowd was his choir – lots of “mmm-hmmms” and “you got that rights”' coming at him from the crowd.

After spewing his knowledge for several minutes he fancied himself another cigarette, so he marched outside with great fanfare.  Meanwhile our code enforcement specialist came out to instruct us that the outside door is to remain closed to save energy.  When Rims returns he heard of this and appointed himself the door monitor, loudly correcting anyone who dared to leave the door open while they waited for their turn to enter. 

Then Rims got bored and decided to place a call.  That’s when everyone in the room learned his whole life story and all about the lies that he fed to Boost Mobile (which evidently requires no ID to provide phone service, something he was excited about) to get his new phone because he said it was his birthday so they forgave his past debts and gave him a free smart phone that somehow cost him $70.  A word to the wise -- don’t invest in Boost.

After telling his ‘boy’ how and why he needed to control “his woman” he hung up.  We were then amazed with his control over people and his life experiences.  Finally we made our way into the main lobby.

Once we got in, the young lady in front of me decided to quiz the previously mentioned line-jumper on why he was now in front of her.  Again, he pretended not to speak English.  Not to worry!  She spoke Spanish!  Next thing we knew, she, me, Rims and his soon-to-be wife were all in our proper place in line.

About that time I started thinking that it had been a few minutes since we were all hollered at by a Civil Servant.  Not to worry – just then whoever parked their silver Impala in an illegal spot was really in for it.  I hope they weren’t outside or in the entry because the offending hollerer couldn’t be bothered to walk out of the lobby.

Shortly after our scolding by the jean-clad hussy, an excited young lady came bounding out of the licensing area to the excited embrace of her mother.  Clearly this was a 16-year-old that just got her first drivers license.  Rims couldn’t resist.  “OH YEAH!  HAPPY! HAPPY!” he shouted as he clapped his hands together (think The Nutty Professor’s parents).  While I think Rims meant to make a little fun of her reaction, everyone began applauding.  SERIOUSLY?  The young lady did a half curtsey as she bounded out of the building.

Just when I thought my funny experiences were coming to an end, I noticed the large black woman about 10 people in front of me moving in an unusual way.  As I began to pay attention to her movements I realized she was doing butt flexes!  WHY OH WHY would she be doing this?  They went on and on.  The moo-moo she was wearing was waving like a flag as she clenched away. I snorted a little as I tried not to laugh and others began to notice.  Lots of giggles and snorts ensued.  She never noticed. I guess that's a good thing.  I don’t want her feelings to be hurt, but it seemed like an odd thing to decide to do, especially in this crowd.

In the end I got my license renewed.  I’m good for five years.  That was two hours of my life I’ll never get back.  Thanks for the entertainment, DPS!

No comments: