We arrived at the driver’s license center at 11:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. Two very kind and smiling ladies greeted us and asked the kid if he had all the proper paperwork. He did and, since he’s over 18, he didn’t need a licensed driver with him. His ticket was number B338 and the bottom of the ticket informed him that there were five people ahead of him. According to the digital signs in the nearly filled waiting area, ticket B330 was being served. We mentally noted the mathematical discrepancy, but I said, “Judging by the size of the crowd here, I’d say there are at least 40 people ahead of you.”

There were A’s, B’s, C’s, F’s and I’s waiting in the crowd. The A’s zipped along at a semi-rapid pace. I tried to figure out what each letter indicated. “A” must mean already licensed, need renewal, I determined. “B” obviously means beginner, judging solely on the age of the respondents to calls for B ticket holders. I gave up on the other letters.

I glanced around the room. Was that my cousin Sophia’s daughter? (Names changed to protect the innocent.) Looks like her. If I call out “Sigourney,” would she die of embarrassment if it is her or would she glare at me if it wasn’t? When I saw her husband and son, my doubts vanished and I chatted with her for a few minutes.

The kid was, as most kids are, glued to his phone screen. Every now and then we’d chat. The numbers under the B stagnated. I thought of the movie “Zootopia” which, with all due respect to employees of the DMV, are portrayed by a very slow member of the animal kingdom. I kept my thoughts to myself.

Ninety minutes into our wait, Sigourney and family departed with the words: “See ya at the family reunion!”

“Is it still Tuesday or did I doze off and miss a day?” I asked. She told me it was still Tuesday.

The kid and I continued to wait. I glanced through my Ohio tourism book that I’d picked up at AAA in anticipation of a lengthy wait. Not having a smartphone, I went “old school” and read words printed on paper. Occasionally, I’d nudge the kid, “See this carousel? Rode it!” He grunted in response. “See this McKinley monument and all those steps? Walked ‘em.” His face said, “Stop already!” So I did.

Now and then there was a gas leak. Not the kind of gas leak that would require dialing 911, but the kind of gas leak from someone who recently ingested chili or ham and bean soup.

Behind me were the youngsters waiting to take their driver’s exam. The man administering the test seemed very cordial and did his best to put the novice drivers at ease. Each smiled as exiting the building.

Finally, the kid’s number was called. Shortly after, he headed off to prove that he was worthy of a learner’s permit. A young man who evidently eschewed the use of deodorant and shampoo sat down within sniffing distance. Gee, the olfactory is getting a workout today! There was no polite way for me to get up and remove myself from the situation. This can’t take much longer, can it? I wondered.

At last the kid was finished. The procedure took about 15 minutes. Add that to two hours of waiting and the middle of the day was shot.

“We should have done this three years ago,” the brilliant child remarked. I shot him “the look.”

As we went outside, he said, “You know that movie ‘Zootopia?’”

“Don’t even say it! Let’s go get a good lunch. I think we deserve it after that ordeal!”

But inwardly, I was chuckling.


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