Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Heart of America

I believe I’ve found the heart of America. This magnificent place represents all that is good and bad, harmonious and chaotic, virile and limp, ketchup and mayonnaise-y about our mighty nation. It is the zenith, the pinnacle, and several other words that mean ‘top’ that I can’t think of right now, of our progress as a people.

I’m speaking of course, of the DMV.

I had to go in last Friday to renew my License to Ki- errr . . . Driver’s License. Yes, my Driver’s License. That thing you need to y’know, drive.

NOTE: I am definitely not a secret agent of any stripe. I do not and never will have fantastic adventures while romancing gorgeous women, all the while maintaining the façade of a humble game designer. And my watch does not contain a miniature nuclear reactor. The fact that I have no hair on my left arm is simply a coincidence.

“What?” you may be saying. “How is the DMV the heart of America?”

Simple. DMV’s are big, you can’t find parking, they’re crowded, they smell slightly off, the seats are uncomfortable, the workers are often surly, and there’s a line for everything. However, at the end of the day, stuff gets done. It may not be pretty or efficient, but it mostly works.

And besides that, DMVs are a grand melting pot. I had an elderly gentleman dozing off on one side of me, a young mom with three kids behind me, a nicely dressed woman with a Gucci purse two seats ahead, two teenagers making out three rows over and a guy in an Elvis suit on the other side of the room. Everyone, young or old, male or female, rich or poor, pompadored or . . . er . . . not, has to go in and wait their turn just like everyone else.

Now, I may be suffering PTSD from my 3-hour wait (or maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome), but I felt a connection with my fellow citizens. We were all tired, frustrated, bored, and in the case of the guy four seats in front of me, stoned out of our minds. I could empathize with the kids taking their driving tests, with the guy on his cell, and with the woman doing her nails.

Well, not because she was doing her nails. I practice the ancient art of ‘bite them off when they get too long,’ so no. I empathized with her because she too was stuck in a dank building on the first really nice day in about a month, along with all the other poor bastards who had to be there as well.

We all suffered together. As Americans.

Actually, I just realized that I won’t have to go back to the DMV for another five years or so. Sweet! Microcosm of America or not, it’s a sucky place to spend an afternoon.


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