Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I Love the DMV

Going to the driver's license office is fun. Admittedly it's only every two years for car registration, and one extra time at five-year intervals to tell the state my height and weight and whether they may remove my entrails if I die (but of course!). Sometimes the employees try to make this task a little lighter, especially the picture taking. It's changed a lot.

"I look like a killer," I told the lady at the license office who'd just taken and printed a digital photo of my face that looked more stunningly like a mug shot than any I'd seen.

"Everyone says that," she said. "The state orders the same camera for every state office. So this one's the same as the police."

Ohio's DMV in the 1970s had special room with a big ol' camera on a tripod and a specialist who used it all day on bland and vacant faces, the special Ohio breed. Attached to this camera was a thin flexible stick he swung around, and from its end dangled a toy bird on a spring. "Watch the birdie," he said, and like everybody else I laughed and he clicked.

The DMV in Boston was known to be worse than death, with long lines and iron-faced clerks. "We can't use this," the clerk said about my photostat birth certificate, white print on black. "It's the only one I have," I said, and by the grace of God it got by and I cut that license up over a trash can when I got my first Missouri license.

I loved seeing the Pacific license office with license plates nailed to its walls, cafe-curtains printed with license plates (where'd they get the fabric?) and a cheerful Christmas tree. I only worry now about my one official 2016 State-of-Missouri face they'll show on TV if I ever get in trouble.

Demetrius and I used to watch the local TV news and when a scary mugshot appeared onscreen we'd both yell "Guilty!"

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