Wednesday, September 9, 2020


 I find myself in a foreign place, in need of a driver's license. There are crowds of people milling around outside the office, but I have been here before and have discovered a way to slip through, as people surge toward the line at opening time, and end up third in line. I feel particularly clever for my accomplishment.

When the office opens, there are a handful of helpers monitoring the line, lifting the rope to allow applicants through, one person at a time. I wait. I am wearing a pink shirt, open at the neck. When my turn comes, an aide indicates the rope line to follow, but instead of following her directions I decide to take a short cut and step over the red rope. She admonishes me, but allows me in to the administrative hall.

There are four desks, with a clerk issuing licenses at each of them. Each one is busy. When I reach mine, the clerk introduces me to a third party, with the subtle suggestion that if I'm willing to lend my license to this stranger, it will be all the easier and faster for me to obtain one. There is, he freely admits, something slightly illegal involved in this, and the man in question, hovering nearby, is a bit too charming, a bit too ingratiating...  

I am suspicious, but tempted to accept the offer. But I tell the clerk I'd prefer to make the decision to lend my license once I have it in hand. I'm thinking, little illegal things can easily lead to bigger ones, and soon to outright criminality. This man's charm and attempts at reassurance inspire the opposite of confidence. I do, however, need that driver's license... I move ahead with the application process.


Marie Smith said...

The line sounds just like my daughter’s experience at the motor vehicle office last week. Her experience took an hour and a half. I wonder how your experience turned out.

Peter Clothier said...

It was a dream, Marie. I woke up before I found out!