I spent my Wednesday morning as an eyewitness to the glacial pace that is bureaucracy…Harris County, Texas bureaucracy thank you very much.
Houston isn’t just the county seat, it’s the entire county and most of the surrounding ones–north, south, east and west. This city is huge and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds and the current population–now more than six million in the greater Houston area–is proof of that. We keep hearing about more; many more on the way. I say bullshit; they’re already here because as God as my witness, half of them were standing in line with me this morning; apparently all in need of automobile title and registration assistance.
Like just about every major metropolitan area in this country, Houston is diverse. That’s one of this city’s many pluses for me. I like living in the midst of “international flare”, something a mono-cultured berg like San Antonio sorely lacks. That diversity was evident to me as I waited in line today.
I saw it all, I saw everything. Why? Because I had the time.
I stood in line for two hours and 22-minutes. That offers you plenty of time to do some serious people watching. One of the first thing you notice is the silence. The lines at the DMV here in Houston are eerily quiet–no one talks unless you’re with someone you know and who goes to the DMV in a group? You go alone and you go only because you have to. It’s often a beleaguering experience you wouldn’t wish on on anyone–not even Joe Biden!!
So, the line moves slowly; rarely a word in spoken. That makes it easy to get lost in thought. Introspection is easy when boredom forces you to go inward. I have no issue with mentally inverting. Sometimes I have to go deep within in order to get a better look at what’s outside of me. And at the DMV,my view was clear. There were people all around me. Different kinds of people. God’s human bouquet.
Plus, I actually like studying humanity. You can tell so much about a person simply by observing them. How they look is important; their hair, clothing–shoes, pants, shirts, nail color, hairstyle, they way divert their eyes; toss their hair. But how they look is often less important than how they look at the world around them.
You can see a million emotions in one facial expression. A cocked eyebrow can practically write a book. Any writer worth his or her salt should be open to these stories. They’re cheap and easy and plentiful. Writer’s have poetic license. What you can’t figure out about the woman beside you or the guy standing behind you who smells like olives and asparagus laden urine, you can make up.
The DMV is a veritable font of material.
ASIAN MAN IN FRONT OF ME:
He was in his mid 60’s as best I could tell and he’d just gotten a hair cut. Mr. Barber didn’t brush off the freshly clipped hair which stuck to the back of his beige loose knit polo shirt. It gave his shoulders this half simian/Robin Williams look. He had long ear hair, too. Long enough to cascade down around his earlobes. Why his barber or Mrs. Asian Man has never said anything to him about this is beyond me. And it’s not like he wasn’t aware of its presence. He knew it was there. Hell, at one point, he brushed a few strands back.
Seriously, why do older men allow this? Unless earwigs need hair ladders to gain entrance into “Castle Cochlear”, why in the hell is the hair there and how and why does it grow that long???
That’s a rhetorical question, by the by. Please, don’t answer it. I actually know why men have ear hair. Cilia; filtering…really, I’m covered.
THE SAD, DEPRESSED MIDDLE-AGED HOUSEWIFE WHO’S GIVEN UP ON LIFE:
She had on a sleeveless house dress. Probably slept in it if the wrinkles were any indication. She had on fuchsia moccasins. No purse, no wallet. Her papers, money, credit cards, her driver’s license and what looked like an ancient Three Musketeers Bar were held together with one of those chip bag clips things. She was heavy–sloppy heavy, probably 75 pounds overweight. Her rather short five foot five frame seemed to be struggling with it, not to mention that on going battle in her psyche.
She wore no make-up and ancient bobby clips held back unwashed hair. I could tell she was self conscious about her appearance, though I doubt she had the self esteem to do much about it. She looked down most of the time and occasionally picked at a scab on her chin. She raised her arm to scratch her head and I swear that hairy armpit of hers made it look like she had Gary Coleman in a headlock. Otherwise, she was fairly motionless, moving only when the line forced her to do so. And that was probably indicative of her life.
I felt sorry for her.
She looked as if she’d been eating her unhappiness.
I’ve written about this woman before.
White, blond, thin and impeccably put together. She was immaculate, even in blue jeans. She wasn’t so much well dressed as she was completely contrived–at least that’s how my rampant insecurity and jealousy are “choosing” to describe her.
Designer shoes, designer jeans, designer shirt, designer purse and tits by design. She stood five feet in front of me, facing the opposite direction (the lines of the DMV zig zag) and even though I wasn’t wearing my glasses, she seemed to have a pretty face with what looked like flawless eye make up and a complexion that was peaches and cream.
Wait a minute; check that. She’s now standing beside me. Uh….make that a complexion that’s peaches and curds.
But the gorgeous three carat diamond wedding ring she sported proved that her husband didn’t mind that at all. Someone loved her. Probably very much.
I felt my face. Oh, lucky, lucky me; my cheeks were free of scars. No acne. Nothing was there….
Not unlike the fourth finger of my left hand.
Ah yes, life’s balancing act.
THE UNCOMFORTABLE OLDER WHITE WOMAN:
I’d say she was in her early 70’s and dressed in a suit. She protectively held her purse to her chest with both hands. It was as if she had the original Federalist Papers inside that $12.99 Shoe Cents fake brown crocodile clutch. Her eyes darted back and forth. She had a scowl on her face. She wasn’t happy; not only because she’d been waiting in line for what was going on hour #2, but because she was standing in between TPOUEB: Two People Of Unknown Ethnic Backgrounds.
I was sure at least one of the guys came from Canada. That had to have scared her to death.
THE POTENTIAL STALKER:
He was in his mid 40’s and wore green fatigues, a T-shirt of some sort and mirrored aviator glasses. His skin was pale; very pale. He was one drop of pink baby lotion away from being albino. His thinning light blond hair was combed back; product kept it in that position. It looked crispy and capable of staying in place even in gale force winds. A thin strip of whiskers that first glance, looked like a “Got Milk” milk mustache, lined his upper lip.
He was cheesy looking.
Even though his eyes were obscured by those damn glasses, I knew he was looking at me. I felt his stare bore into me. What’s so strange is that I didn’t think he was undressing me. I actually think he was putting more clothes on me!
His Creep Quotient was off the charts. Something told me that he collected yellow “DO NOT CROSS” police tape from various crime scenes with which he was probably very, very familiar.
I got the distinct feeling he was named “Wayne”.
ANGRY BLACK MAN:
I named this 30-ish cat, “Militant Andre”. Not sure why, but I do believe the words, “Death To Crackers” which were emblazoned across his T-shirt, had something to do with it.
What I couldn’t figure out was why he was so angry?
What had Nabisco ever done to him???
I looked down at my watch. Two hours and 22 minutes had gone by and I finally made it to the end of the line. I was next. It was my turn. I was kind of nervous for some reason. I wanted everything to be in order because I DID NOT want to go through this again.
“Window Six is open for the next person in line!”
That was my cue.
I walked up, handed my papers to the woman as I stated my business. She looked at me, then at my papers, then at me again. She adjusted her bi-focals and then handed my papers back to me as she announced to everyone within ear shot that I was missing my emissions test results, something EVERY vehicle in Harris County, Texas has to have in order to BE a vehicle in Harris County, Texas.
I just stared at her defeated. I just spent two ARDUOUS hours and 22-painful minutes in line with at least one of Satan’s Spawn (See: THE POTENTIAL STALKER) .She can’t do this to me!! But she did and she was happy. Glad. Accomplished. Proud.
Oh yeah; I read her expression alright. This sadistic bitch loved doing this to people. This was her dream job.
Sarcastically, she said “thank you” and gave me a quick perfunctory smile that was really an unspoken, “Move along NOW, Sister”. I stepped aside as she shouted that her window was free, enabling her to piss all over someone else’s day.
I was livid and frustrated. I’d never been angrier. I walked outside into the parking lot where I kicked the shit out of the car door.
Sweet, sweet release. I felt better. Much better.
Then, I walked to my car parked three rows back.