It is Less Painful to Embrace Defeat Rather Than Cross the DMV

January 25th, 2007.

Yesterday was my birthday, so I had to make a trip to the DMV to get my new sticker. The line was shockingly short and I was taken care of almost immediately. After shelling out $60 for the sticker, I headed out to the parking lot to attach it to my truck.

I’m prone to multi-tasking, so as I peeled off the back of the sticker and firmly smoothed it onto the license plate, I also glanced over my registration to make sure all my information was correct. It was.

After that, I walked around to the driver’s side and stuck my key in the lock. It didn’t fit. I swore to myself and wondered if the cold weather had frozen my locks. It was at this point that I noticed that the interior of my truck had somehow changed in pattern and color in the short time I was in the DMV. “Son of a bitch!” I thought to myself, “This isn’t my truck!”

Then: “Shit! My sticker!”

I ran around to the back of the truck and attempted to peel off my sticker. I guess the DMV fully utilizes the $60 they charge for the fucking things, because they seem to have designed the perfect sticker. Even though it had been stuck there for less than 5 minutes, it was stuck there for good. I tried to scratch it off with my fingernails to no avail.

Defeated, I realized that not only would I have to buy myself another sticker, but I would most assuredly have to buy another one for the Douche Whose Truck Looked Too Much Like Mine as well. This was shaping up to be an expensive mistake.

I decided to throw myself on the mercy of the DMV.

I went back in and told the lady that I had ruined my sticker. I apologized profusely and asked if I would be forced to buy another one. She told me that I could get a replacement for free….if I could bring her back the ruined sticker.

“Well, see, there’s a problem with that,” I reluctantly explained, “My sticker is….destroyed.”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s destroyed,” she assured me, “We still need it.”

“What if I could only get it to you in little pieces?” I asked.

“That’ll be fine.”

I went back out to the truck and attempted to scratch off as many pieces as I could. I managed two. I went back into the DMV and handed them to the lady.

“Oh, we’ll need more than that!” she exclaimed.

“That’s all I could get,” I told her. “You see….I….well I…..uh….stuck it to the wrong truck.”

She narrowed her eyes and her voice deadpanned. “You stuck it to the wrong truck?”

Instantly, I felt the heat of embarrassment warm my cheeks. I started fidgeting and squirming to avoid her stare, which suggested to me, that this DMV lady thought I was the stupidest person she had ever laid eyes on. I couldn’t even disagree with her. Had I been in her position, I would have thought the same thing.

“Well, uh, yeah,” I answered sheepishly, “You see….I wasn’t paying attention….I was reading my registration….and there was this blue truck parked right next to my blue truck….and I…I….I….

I trailed off for a minute and then just gave up. “I’m sorry.” I said.

She stared at me in silence.

“I’m a real idiot,” I pressed.

She continued to stare.

“I hate myself.”

Clearly that was the right thing to say because her face suddenly relaxed. “Wait right here,” she told me and then she walked into one of the back offices.

While she was gone, I started asking other people in the building if they owned the blue truck parked outside, but no one did.

The DMV lady came back out dressed in a warm coat and holding a razor blade and a piece of paper. She motioned for me to follow her and we headed back out to the parking lot. I led her to the truck I desecrated and she set about carefully scraping the pieces of my sticker off of the license plate with the razor and putting them on the piece of paper that I was now holding.

After a few minutes, I noticed a man walking towards us. “Is this your truck?” I asked him.

“No,” he snapped as he headed towards the Honda parked a few spaces over. He opened up his car, grabbed something out of the passenger side, and then headed back in our direction.

“You know, what you’re doing right there is a federal offense!” he admonished us in a know-it-all voice I suspect people only use when they want you to punch them in the face. Then, he sauntered back into the DMV.

“What a nasty man,” the DMV lady whispered, “He better have every single piece of his paperwork in order or he’ll be sorry.”

Obviously, it’s not a good idea to fuck with the DMV.

A couple of minutes later, the DMV lady had entirely peeled off my sticker and because she had hands like a fucking surgeon she refrained from doing any damage whatsoever to the other guy’s sticker.

We headed back inside to find the know-it-all prick from the parking lot demanding to speak to the manager in an attempt to rat us out. The woman he was talking to pointed to my DMV lady and said, “There she is!”

The prick ducked his head and said, “Oh. You work here.”

The clipped way she answered him marked her displeasure. “Yes. I do.”

“Well….uh….I didn’t know that. I guess all I need is to renew my license….”

“That’s fine,” she told him, “As soon as I’m finished helping this woman, I’ll be happy to help you. Please make sure you have (she rattled off a list of documents) ready.”

“But…” the prick began.

She abruptly turned away from him to get me a new sticker. I left the DMV yesterday marveling at how closely that institution resembles the mafia. You definitely benefit when they’re on your side. But if you cross them, they have ways of making you very….uncomfortable.

If the prick from the parking lot turns up tomorrow dead and bloody, stuffed ungraciously in a dumpster, the DMV will have earned my eternal respect.

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