If I am going to spend four hours at the DMV – and I’m three hours in now as I write – I’m jolly well going to get a blog out of it.
This is my second trip in two days. Yesterday I appeared for an appointment, and they told me it was for today. Today I appeared, and they told me I didn’t have an appointment at all.
I would leave, but by the time I could get another (hopefully actual) appointment in six weeks, my car registration would be suspended. Apparently AAA never processed my transfer of insurance on the car I bought two months ago, and now the DMV is about to revoke my registration for driving uninsured.
So here I am, entangled in the maze of sludge-like bureaucracy which is only getting worse as funding for a government agencies decreases – even here in California.
Generally, people I have interacted with have tried to be helpful. One man held onto my “place in line” card while I put more money in the meter couple of hours ago – a card which a clerk had given me even though I they didn’t have me down for an appointment. I appreciated that. But still…
In Roman Catholic theology, Purgatory is where one suffer the tortures of the damned in order to burn off sin and move on to heaven.
I look around me at all the unhappy, resigned-to-misery faces here. Most people have the look of seeing themselves in purgatory here and now.
That’s so disempowering! Yes, we are here in this place we don’t want to be. But there are things in both the short and the long term to do.
In the long term we can work to vote in leaders who will vote to support the civil services we need.
In the short run, we can look for ways to make the time less awful. I’m actually enjoying turning this into writing time.
We can also take the internal stance that we are in it together. We can also help each other out in small ways as the man did who held my place in line.
When my number was finally called, I remarked to the woman at the counter that I could see how extremely busy she was, and how understaffed the office looked. She nodded wearily. I said I still was hoping she could make time for all three items I needed help with – even though I knew she was supposed to address only one issue per customer.
She also took a moment to look up from her paperwork to smile and meet my eyes, grateful I think for being seen. Me too.
A tiny act of grace between us. A small but real way to shift out of both being in purgatory – and back on the way on heaven.