“All you do is walk straight at the wall between platforms 9 and 10. Best to run if you’re nervous. Good luck.” ~ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
9+10=19. That’s important for later…
After witnessing what happens at the Department of Motor Vehicles to creatures who have the gall to go to the front of the line without the appropriate paperwork, I was even less confident about my 3 measly papers and my increasing proximity to the front desk. Especially as I took some casual peeks at my fellow line companions, and realized that many of them had file folders bursting with paperwork. I told myself that if anyone showed up with a piece of rolling carry-on luggage, I was going to leave.
Finally, it was my turn. I slunk to the counter with my three pieces of Proof that I Exist and I Did Not Come to this Country by way of the Rio Grande.
The woman barely glanced at them. I told her that I needed to renew my license. After two other questions that I don’t even remember, she gave me a ticket and told me to go sit down.
I was not turned back! No one put a bowl over me and took me outside! This was progress, indeed.
My number was 12. The DMV branch that I had chosen has a very organized approach to calling numbers. They are announced over the intercom, and then they are displayed on a screen. If no one responds to either of these alerts, then a very nice lady comes into the room and calls the number a few more times before they call Time of Death on the number.
Number 2 did not respond. I was flabbergasted. How can you make it so far, and then disintegrate before you cross the finish-line? And then I had a sobering thought.
Maybe the mouse was #2.
After what seemed like a ridiculously short length of time, number 11 was finally called. I put away all electronic devices, and sat up straight in my chair. This was it!
#450 was called next.
What the heck?
Oh, yes. I vaguely remembered, before the mouse, reading a poster with some kind of translation of the numbers – indicating that higher ones were for commercial drivers.
Okay. Tantrum averted.
Now I was worried. Did they skip me inadvertently? Or, worse, did they skip me on purpose? Did one of the supervisors see that my DMV Employee did not demand more Proof from me and that I did not carry an Important File Folder Full of Proofs, and revoke my number? Without telling me?
Then I noticed something even more worrisome.
#13 was supposed to report to station 19.
There is no Station 19.
I looked everywhere. No Station 19.
Is Station 19 the bathroom? Or, where the mouse went? Or, some kind of magical Harry Potter destination?
How am I supposed to cope with a crazy DMV that has psycho mice, switches required paperwork, and calls people to report to non-existent stations? And where the #2 person in line suddenly disappears?!!!!!!
Please go to Station 12.
The mouse bowl station.
I timidly crossed the floor to Station 11. I handed the woman my ticket, and made small talk, hoping she would not notice that I was under-paperworked and decide that she should put a bowl over my head and “release” me.
“Do you get mice in here often?”
“Huh? Oh, no.”
“Well, you guys handled it well.”
I attribute the fact that she gave me my temporary driver’s license, complimented me on the astounding resemblance of myself in my new picture to my 29-year old self in my old picture, and promised me a new license in the mail in two weeks, to my superlative small talk.
I exited the DMV. It opened at 8 A.M. I left at 8:20.
I went home and spent the rest of the day obsessing over Station 19.