Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The other day I went to the police station around the corner down the road, finally getting around to renewing my driver's license between my birthday and a month later as per the cryptic instructions on the postcard they sent me, one of those secret postcards, that said that between the aforementioned dates I had to go either to this large police station between 2 and 4 on these afternoons with these exceptions, that large police station between 9 and 11 on those mornings with these exceptions, or this other smaller police station on my side of the big toll bridge at one time a week only but since that possibility was so remote it didn't say when so I had to call the microprint number to find out the secret information, all because I drove south on a one-block street between 2 and 4 pm on a Wednesday (see Smiling Bob's Extra-Special Police Adventure). Go figure.

In a room filled with guys in uniform sitting at desks where they arm wrestle with sheets of paper, now and then going outside to hassle law-abiding citizens taking their usual Wednesday afternoon shortcuts, the polite lady clerk took my personal seal and a bunch of money, stamped the back of my old and now disgraced license about 42 times with various sizes of red-, blue- and black-inked rubber stamps so as to eradicate all semblance of validity while yet verifying to future generations of clerks and policepersons that I had indeed been here to a confirmable degree on this day and date long ago with fees in hand, bearing my personal seal, at this official desk in this official building, town, county, country, in person, with the correct face and what not - imagination is in short supply amid the nitgrit of bureaucracy - then she blinded me with an eye test and stopped me from putting my shades back on so she could take my picture without warning in a corner with a flash that made me look like Julius Caesar falling off his horse on my driver's license.

After that I had to watch beige walls for 45 minutes made up of those widely spaced ticks and monotonous tocks that drip like cold molasses out of bureaucratic clocks that hang above steel-legged benches upholstered in cold gray prison vinyl decorated with little triangular rips and old cigarette burns until as a hard-driving criminal locked into the police data base I could sit for a week-long lecture compressed into less than two hours by an about-to-retire police officer who also would rather have been just about anywhere else in the country than here now repeating this lecture to an audience of tired eyes for what looked and sounded like the thousandth time about the meaning of red lights and stop signs and the paragraph on page 66 and so many other priceless memories, e.g., about how going 60 is like your car falling off a building I forget how many stories high, like that will ever happen, all because last year I drove in one direction.

Wonder if I could erase my record if I drove backward...

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