July Twenty-Nine: California Bureaucracy On A Hellish Summer’s Day

“Today is the day” I told myself. Time to give in and throw away the money required to get my driver’s license back. I’m leaving to go work in Atlanta in two days and I will be driving a rental car the whole time I’m there. The last thing I want to do it get arrested for some stupid bullshit on the other side of the country. I figured I didn’t have much of a choice but to get all of my fines and DMV shit taken care of today.

I drove to the courthouse. Passing through the metal detector, I threw my phone, keys, and money clip into a dog bowl to be x-rayed with incredible efficiency and I proceeded to walk into the lobby. A short, fat, female officer with a weathered face waved me through the metal detector in the most condescending way possible. She motioned to me as if I was a retarded animal who someone had dressed in a three-piece suit for their amusement. This gesture removed all doubt that she was, in fact, as miserable of a cunt as I had judged by her to be by her appearance. I gave her my best “I would love to kill you with a nine iron” look as I passed her and I walked into the room where it looked like people were queuing up to be raped. I stood in line, ready to pay my fines. One for speeding and the other for not showing up on my court date. The people in line with me ranged from merely low class to barely human. It was an orgy of rolls of drooping flesh, Chess Piece Black tattoos, and children drooling on their mothers’ FUPAs. There was one old man in a plaid shirt who looked like a decent person who probably got fucked by a cop for some obscure traffic law like “failure to stop at a red light” or something. I was embarrassed. I wanted to tell him that not everyone younger than him looked or acted like these people but, of course, I didn’t say a word. My pity for the old man ended abruptly when some cunt got on the intercom and in a lethargic, barely audible voice directed our attention to this new piece of technology that was sitting on the wall opposite of the roped-off line we were in. It’s a kiosk where you shove your driver’s license into the slot and it tells you how much you “owe” the government. You then stick your credit card in the same slot and it sucks that amount of money out of your account. There is no “are you sure?” dialogue or anything, you just put your credit card in and it spits out a receipt. It’s reminded me of losing a bet in a casino. My money was just gone. It felt violent. I took my receipt and walked into the lobby looking for someone who looked half-way competent to answer a question but only found the two cops looking bored by the metal detector. I asked the male cop if they would unsuspend my license now that they had my money and he told me I would have to go to the DMV to do that. There would, of course, be an additional fee for this. He was pretty nice actually and we shot the shit for a minute. It was just his coworker whom I wanted to see dead or horribly maimed or both. He told me to drive down to the DMV on Broadway and I could get my license back. I looked at him, suspicious of entrapment and said “but that would be a crime, right?” He laughed and said “I guess so.” He didn’t give a fuck. I liked him. I was parked right out front of the building and I’m sure he saw me get into my car and drive away.

There’s nothing quite like a California Department of Motor Vehicles. It is the closest thing to Hell that actually exists. It’s slow, it’s inefficient, it stinks, the employees are mean as fuck, and it costs a lot of money to do anything. Just being there is soul destroying. That being said, I had a good time. I walked through the doors and immediately some gruff, tall man with a white goatee put his hand on my shoulder. He told me he was in line. I figured he didn’t want to stand outside since the line was going out the door and it was hot outside, so I stood by him as if the line had a little curve in it. He said I should get back in line. I didn’t know what the fuck he wanted and I started to ask him what his deal was when interrupted me. “Just remember” he said. “I’m behind her (pointing to the woman in front of me) and in front of you (pointing to me). I don’t stand in lines. If you’ve been where I’ve been, you wouldn’t stand in lines either.” He clearly was referring to prison. I nodded as though I sympathized with him and stepped up to wait in line behind this woman who was short and fat as fuck. She was young (21 maybe) and had a face caked with foundation to cover her ghastly complexion. She wore giant sunglasses (inside, mind you) that made her look like a bug. She held an over-sized smart phone in her hand and began typing furiously on it. She was posting a picture of the DMV line on her Facebook with the caption “ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS!?” This amused me. This line was actually pretty short by DMV standards. I continued to watch her hack away on her phone. It wasn’t thirty seconds later when she started another message. “SOMEBODY HAS BAAADDDDDD B.O. IN HERE O~O.” I hoped it was me because I really did stink, but so did a lot of people in that line. I waited in this long, slow, snaking line and listed to the song “Spooky” on my iphone. There were a bunch of people in line that were disgusting here too. And there was an old man in a plaid shirt who probably will have his license taken away in less than five years. I once again felt the need to say something to him and I felt like an asshole for wearing headphones for some reason. The ugly bitch ahead of me hacked away a third message that was more snarky bullshit I’m sure. I only made out the word “SERIOUSLY???????” I laughed out loud a little bit at this one. Some black kids were having a play fight in the doorway and one of them threw water at the other, hitting an older Indian man.

I spotted an Eastern European girl of about sixteen waiting to take her driver’s test with two of her friends. She was wearing a Navy blue skirt and a light blue top. She had a beautiful face and lovely breasts and long, perfect looking legs. She wore black high-heels; one propped her up while the other lay carelessly dangling, almost perpendicular off her left foot. She was smiling. She was about to get her driver’s license. I hope she passed her test. I would allow myself to be enamored by her feminine beauty for a while then I would shift my attention to the pig-woman in front of me and I would become disgusted. Then I would look back at the lovely Slavic girl and let my eyes relax. Like going from a cold swimming pool to a hot deck, the contrast somehow made things more satisfying. When pig got to the front of the line she was told she would have to wait again for her number to be called. The actual waiting room is what you get access to once you’ve made it through the line. That is where the real wait is. The line is just preseason! The DMV employee at the head of the line told Pig that she would have to wait some more and so she stormed out. I’m sure another angry Facebook post ensued. I left the DMV for a while for some food and came back in time for them to call my number. The employee was curt with me. She didn’t believe I was number 185 until I dug the slip out of my jacket pocket and tossed it on her keyboard. I asked for my license back and she said I couldn’t get it until I paid the court the money I owed. I started to show her the receipt but she told me she couldn’t accept it. She said that I had to wait for the computer to show it as paid. I would just have to come back.

My license is still suspended.


3 thoughts on “July Twenty-Nine: California Bureaucracy On A Hellish Summer’s Day

  1. lived in phnom penh for seven months. got stopped by the cops. riding a motorbike without a license. riding a motorbike that is unregistered. riding a motorbike without a helmet. riding a motorbike, at excessive speed, the wrong way, down a one way street. proposed fine: 10 USD. gave him 1 USD. he says “but there are three of us. can we have three dollars?”

    having lived in the U.S. for a while, i cherished every bribe with every cop in every asian country. at least there it’s little money, going straight to the little guy.

  2. reading all your shit while my current license is expired makes me feel a little guilty for you, but also very urgent about going in to get it taken care of. all i need is to smash into the back of a van or something and then ‘YOU SHOULDNT HAVE BEEN ON THE ROAD’ yadayada.

    this fuckin country

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