Tuesday, May 01, 2012


I am not one to stand in the way of progress. I’ve embraced automation, technology, the internet – anything high-tech and useful in nearly any form.  My otherwise old-fashioned razor even comes with a battery now.

Quite a bit has changed. We put headphones in our ears to go for a run, we never turn off the telephone - I even have a buddy who wears a radio helmet deer hunting so he can listen to UGA games.  Sometimes all the technology can be isolating - I have hardly even shopped in a brick-and-mortar store since the internet (that’s “Innerwebs” or “Entrynets” to my rural family) became viable. 

I’ll admit. All the technology was nice, but somewhere along the road I started to lose touch with humanity. Yesterday I went to the DOT for a trailer tag and I am happy to report: I am back in touch.

If you’re anything like me, a trip to the DOT fills you with foreboding. You don’t know what’s going to happen – but you can be sure it won’t be good.

What always amazes me is the sheer volume of open combat that takes place right there in the waiting room. Yesterday I walked in to find a young man standing at the customer service window balancing a baby on his left hip, wife to  his right (great with child) and a pile of various completely useless government forms fairly spilling out of his significantly bagged-and-sagged jeans.

I could tell by his posture and the whites of his wife’s eyes that all parties were dealing with a flight-or-fight response before I even made it through the cold glass doors and into the frosty environment of the waiting room.

Customer Service (clearly enunciating): Sir, do you owe money on the vehicle?

Man: Yes. No. Yes. I owe my Uncle $500, but he give me this here tag for free.

Customer Service: Is your Uncle the primary lienholder?

Man: I owe my Uncle $500 and he give me this car.

Customer Service: Is your Uncle the primary lienholder?

Man: My Uncle - he give me this car. I pay him some money. Later I pay him some more.

Customer Service: Who is the Primary Lienholder on your vehicle?

Man: I don’t know nothing about nobody “lean”.

Customer Service: Do you owe your Uncle money on this car?

Man: No. Except for the $500 that I owe him.

Customer Service: Where is the title?

Man: I dunno about no title. All I got is the car. Ain’t that enough?

Customer Service: Well, without the title the car can’t be proven to be your car and it belongs to whoever has the title.

Man (louder): Well whoever he is you tell him I’d like to see him try and take it.

Customer Service: No need to shout sir. You’re going to need the title.

Man (patiently): I don’t need no title and I already got the car – all I want is the little sticker that say “you ain’t got to pull me over Mr. Police Officer.”

Customer Service: If you have your Uncle send you the title we’ll convert it to a Georgia title from a Florida title (AH HA! Floridians!) and then send it back to him and he can give it to you and you can put it in your name when you are finished paying for it.

Man: If you give me that sticker I’ll do all that soon as I get home.

Customer Service: I’m sorry I can’t do that. Have your Uncle sign over the Title and bring it in.

Man (blank stare): My Uncle ain’t gon’ sign me over no title until he gets his money I can tell you that fo’ sho’ because he done took it back twice already because we late on the payments. He’s a dealer.

Customer Service: Either that, or have the Primary Lienholder sign the title over to you.

Man: I done told you: I ain’t know no lienholler all I got is a Uncle and a beater car with no muffler.

I eased on around the corner and took a number to watch the drama play out, but was disappointed to see the man, his wife and the young child turn and shuffle out. It’s a shame because both parties were talking to each other with such (relatively) clear enunciation (like they were talking to a baby) that I could hear the whole thing perfectly. Normally you have to kind of sidle up to someone in that situation to hear the whole hissed exchanged through the DOT service window and that can get terribly inconvenient.

I sat for a bit with an eye on the door. I don’t know what it is about government buildings, but for some reason every single person you see walking into one has something pretty bad wrong with them. The first 5 people (no lie) to walk in after I sat down all had something wrong with a leg:

1.       White male, 50s: No left leg, prosthesis.

2.       Black female, 20’s: Crutches

3.       White female, 50’s: Pronounced limp

4.       White male, 30’s: Less pronounced limp

5.       White female 60’s: Wrapped ankle

It went downhill from there. The next one had a cast on his right arm, the 9th had those really dark eye-doctor glasses on and kept sniffling, the 12 and 13th were both fantastically pregnant, and the 14th was so old I can absolutely not imagine how she managed to get to the DOT. The 16th was preceded by her husband in a wheelchair who looked to be roughly 92, mostly blind, certainly incapacitated, and only slightly happier about the wheelchair than his wife; who proceeded to snatch him around and act absolutely furious with the wheelchair for the next 20 minutes.

I guess maybe it was his fault about the wheelchair and she hasn’t forgiven him for it yet. Seems a touch unfair, but hey – they gave him his driver’s license a lot faster than I got my tag, so maybe it was just a prop.

Anyhow, it was worth the trip.


Anonymous said...

I also dread the thought of a trip to the DOT. I did notice that your office provides seating. The one nearest to me has a long line until you get to a certain point and then it branches out into 5 different windows. The wait is usually long, you can learn the whole medical history of your nearest companion, the story of their son being in prison as well as the reason that their wife was laid off from her last job.
Then it is their turn to step forward and the person behind sees their opportunity and you do not even want to repeat what you hear from this individual. So much for a day at the DOT.

Kristy said...

You make waiting a fruitful funny activity! Love this!