This will be an exercise in writing about a day without complaining. This post also offers me several chances to share joyful encounters.
I deliberately did not write yesterday because 21 August 2018 marked the 33rd anniversary of my mother’s death. I felt that I could not write without waxing maudlin so I just walked alone in our Community Garden for a while in the evening and thought about my mother’s garden. Those quiet moments soothed me.
I had a scheduled CA DMV appointment today. I had gathered all of my paperwork (more than once) and studied the handbook. I made the appointment in the Vacaville office. Vacaville sits about 35 miles northwest of my home. I wanted to be sure to be on time, and also to spend an extra hour just reading the handbook over again. I did not want to have to make the trip twice; and my Missouri license expires on my birthday in two weeks.
I got to Vacaville at noon, pulling into the DMV parking lot. I searched on Google-map for a restaurant near me, and found only a Mongolian BBQ / Buffet. I didn’t want to drive very far, so I chanced it.
The waiter approached me as I moved to sit down. He asked what I wanted to drink. “Hot tea,” I replied.
“No hot tea,” he stated.
“None?” He shook his head.
“Then, coffee, please,” I amended.
“No coffee,” he replied.
I studied his face, then glanced around. No tea in a Chinese restaurant? And no coffee, two doors from the DMV in the only restaurant on the strip? I asked what they did have, and the waiter said, “Soda.”
I asked again about tea, for reasons i cannot articulate. This time, he said, “Tea will take ten minutes.” I stared, but did not retort. I merely ordered the tea.
The buffet had nothing for a vegetarian except steamed rice, fruit, and some dubious cut vegetables. I took some of each. By the time I returned to the table, my tea had arrived in a heavy china pot with a nearly clean mug. The tea turned out to be Lipton. I ate what I had taken, to my stomach’s chagrin. By the time I left, I had a serious case of heart burn. I tipped 15%. He did, after all, relent on the tea.
At the door of the DMV, a tall cheerful man inquired as to my needs. I explained, and he burst into a sunny laugh. “Let me review your paperwork,” he asked, as though he genuinely desired the task. He found all in order, though one eyebrow raised at the address proof (bank statement, per list) which had only “Corinne”, without the first half — i.e., the “Mary”. But I had both passport and birth certificate so he let the discrepancy slide. He sent me to a terminal to complete an application and get a queue number. I had been there exactly five minutes. The application took another five, and I presented myself to the correct line as instructed. The designation read, “Appointments”. Nice! I assure you that the non-appointment folks looked envious.
The woman attending to our line seemed even more excited to be doing her job than the kid at the door. I wondered if the legalization of marijuana might be influencing everyone’s mood but frankly, did not care. If they’re happy to be here, that’s all that matters. Only two people stood in front of me, and our clerk got them on their way within minutes. I’d been in the place for less than half an hour, and I felt good about my progress.
She had me touch my thumb to a monitor, reviewed my paperwork, and sent me over to wait for the next attendant.
That fellow took my fingerprint again for the Real-ID feature of the CA driver’s license. He scanned my documents, and mentioned that his 91-year-old grandfather lives in Missouri. Near Ferguson, to be precise. I shared my heritage from nearby Jennings, and we talked about Missouri for a few minutes, and his grandfather, and his great-uncle who just turned 94. Then he sent me over to have my picture taken.
I didn’t realize what had happened until my left hand jammed against the floor and I heard a lady say, “She tripped on the rug, I saw it.”
Indeed. (No, please don’t comment — “are you okay?” because I am). I felt someone grab my arm and shout, “You’re all right! I’m going to get you up!” and I pitched my voice low to answer: “please let go of my arm”. I resisted being hoisted from the floor before I had assessed my condition. A male voice said, “Ma’am, we’ll take care of it,” which I presume had been addressed to the customer jerking on my arm. I felt her hands fall away. The same male voice then dropped an octave to inquire what I needed. Thank God, I thought. Someone sensible!
I heard the young man who had greeted me ask if he should get water. I restrained myself from laughing. Always water! The other guy said, “Sure, sure, that would be fine.” I focused on this calm presence. I said, “Okay, just so you know, I am disabled, I fall a lot, and I know how to get up. Are you willing to help me in a very specific way?” He nodded and instructed me to tell him exactly what I wanted him to do. Within a few seconds, I had gotten vertical and beheld both my assistant and the clock. I’d been in the place for less than 45 minutes.
My savior set about helping me check for blood and breaks. As we stood there, a short, heavy woman bustled between us and brushed him aside. “I’m the manager,” she snapped. She grabbed my paperwork and copied parts of my name onto a paper. “Hun, is anything broken,” she inquired, in what I assume she meant as an efficient tone. I said that I didn’t think so. She asked, “Do you want medical care?” I shook my head. She said, “Fine. That’s all I need. Refused medical care. Noted.” And she bustled back off again.
We resumed our triage. When we determined that I seemed to be intact, the man guided me to the “take your picture” line, and told me he would wait for me. Two customers said, “You’re the lady who fell,” to which I admitted. One asked, “Are you all right?” and when I said that I was, indeed, all right, she followed her question with this compliment: “I really like your dress.”
I stood for a few minutes in the picture line. When my turn came, the woman gently told me, “I saw you fall. You went down hard. You’re a brave soul for getting right back up.” Then she took my picture and sent me over to the line waiting for the Knowledge Test computer. A woman in one of two available chairs stood and waved me into the seat. I thanked her.
Just about then, a fire-truck screeched to a halt outside the office, with an ambulance right behind it. Somebody looked at me and remarked that the paramedics would probably want to take my blood pressure, beings as how I had fallen. I shrugged. But the manager lady bustled out again, walking right by the spot on which I stood without acknowledging me. She went outside, shooed away the emergency crew, and bustled right back into the place and through a door which she locked behind herself.
I quietly waited for the computer on which I was to take the Knowledge Test to secure my Driver’s License. When my turn came, i got 35 out of 36. I turned from the terminal and my escort guided me to the next line. I had been there about an hour.
Window 1 had gone on break, so Window 2 would be helping those of us who needed the Window 1 services alternating between the two lines. I talked to an 18-year-old who announced that he had passed his first driving test! Then another man said, “You’re the girl who fell, right?” and I again admitted to my identity. “You fell pretty good,” he told me. I couldn’t tell if he meant to applaud my skills or gauge the force with which I hit the ground. I just smiled.
Finally, the Window 2 guy took my thumbprint, read my test results, had me sign two or three pieces of paper, and punched a hole in my Missouri license. He presented me with a temporary CA Driver’s License, promising the real deal in eight to ten days. I took a little bow in the direction of the room at large, and called out my thanks to the man who had lifted me from the floor. I walked out of the building exactly 75 minutes after I had entered, the proud possessor of the legal right to operate a motor vehicle in the state of California. And only a little bruised, not counting my ego.
It’s the twenty-second day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.