This was the year that Delaware Grammy had to renew her driver’s license. I knew that I was supposed to get down there and get it done, but there were extenuating circumstances, and I kept thinking, “Next week, for sure, I’m going to get down there!” But the weeks kept passing by, and finally I was down to the last week. Then the last day. Friday, October 13th, came up with various interruptions and when Certain Man assured me that I could go in on Monday, the day after my birthday since my birthday fell on a Sunday, I decided that Monday was a far better day, and opted to wait.
Monday had its own constraints, but eventually I found myself on the way down to the DMV, hoping that it wouldn’t take too long to get this license renewal behind me. On the way down, I wondered if I would be allowed to take a new picture. Sometimes, depending on the state of the photographic equipment, the State has opted to not take a new picture. This resulted in Youngest Son, Lemuel, having a picture from his 14 year old I.D. on his Driver’s license. It’s not so bad (usually) when it’s one of us oldsters keeping a younger picture, but in Lem’s case, the fresh-faced boy on his license was an insult to him as he entered his later teens. And for this Delaware Grammy, it so happened that I really, really, really wanted a new picture.
The old picture, taken five years ago, was notoriously bad. So bad, in fact, that shortly after receiving it, when I handed it to a clerk as identification, she handed it back and said that it wasn’t me. She asked me something about why I was using my father’s identification. I handed it back and protested that it was, in fact me. She read it over, realized that it was in fact me, and said, “That’s a terrible picture! You should demand a new picture. They should HAVE to redo it!” As I told my family, it did not inspire any confidence. It did NOT! I really wanted a new one.
Besides the photo business, rolling around in my head were the usual things about the DMV. (The terrible wait, the terrible wait, the terrible wait.) Also on my mind was the fact that I needed to get a replacement for a title that I had misplaced. That always takes an act of congress. I resigned myself to spending an hour or two within the confines of the walls of our Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
I came through the double doors at Delaware’s Sussex County DMV to discover that there was no line, and two people, a policeman and a nice lady, welcoming new arrivals and handing out numbers. I told the policeman that I needed to renew my license and also get a copy of a title. He said that I should take a number to get my license renewed, then come back for another number to get the title.
He handed me my number and said, “Your number is —- and they are calling it now at station 26!”
Huh! They were!
I headed over to the station, was taken right in. When I handed in my old license, the clerk said, “There is going to be a ten dollar late fee because your birthday was yesterday.”
“Really?” I asked. “Yesterday was Sunday. I’m not allowed one day’s grace?”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But we give you six months ahead of your birthday to get in and get it renewed. We do not allow any days of grace.”
Bummer! I should have gotten in while the getting was good!!! Oh, well. But the gal was helpful, kind, efficient, There was no question about whether I was to have a new picture, and in a strange new twist, she even said, “You may smile if you wish,” and I wished. Before I knew it, the paperwork was all completed and in less than ten minutes from start to finish, I had my new license in hand. The photo wasn’t going to win me any contests for being stunning, but no one will mistake me for my father.
Now for the title.
I went back to retrieve a number, and again was handed a number that was called while I stretched out my hand. I walked over to another counter, had another incredibly friendly and efficient person to help me, and was finished there before I could believe it.
I walked out on air. It was unbelievable! I had literally been in that building less than 20 minutes. I thought about my dark thoughts on my way down, my pessimistic expectations, and about how wrong I was about everything. So often I think I need to “hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” but I’m not so sure that is working for me. Maybe in this as well as a whole lot of other situations. That “hoping for the best” business gets overshadowed as I “prepare for the worst.”
And I had wasted precious time fretting about what I was going to say if they didn’t want to let me take a new picture. I had armed myself with my new Readers’ Digest in case I had to wait a long time and couldn’t find anyone to talk to. It almost felt like I had been gypped some how. All the
angst preparation had been entirely unnecessary. I had been treated with respect and pleasantries and efficiency and speed.
There was nothing left for me to do but to be very grateful.
And I truly, truly was!
And this old heart