Thursday, August 14, 2008

aaaaaaaaaaaar.m.v. part one

bureaucracy - one of the great inventions of the civilised world. of course not. just home in a bit of a fury trying to calm down and go back to the registry of motor vehicles in watertown. first of all, the other day, i discovered that without insurance you cannot get registered, and without registration you cannot get insured. luckily there is a special form for that which means it is not actually a problem, and the insurers will send it to you. eventually.

meanwhile, my first encounter with the commonwealth of massachusetts occurred about an hour ago. you'd've thought that with a licence from the commonwealth of virginia there may have been some reciprocity but apparently not. the first trick is to find the office. there are no signs on any of the surrounding streets. there are no signs in the parking lot. someone i asked in a back street told me it was in the mall. upon getting there, one has to stand in line to get a form to fill out in order to go back into the line in order to get a number in order to get in line to be served. the wooden benches are full of dispirited-looking people trying to figure out whether the woman at the front who is shouting numbers is shouting the same numbers as the ones on the electronic display (she is not). to help us pass the time there is a tv screen up at the front displaying the words "national news". apparently there isn't any.

eventually my number came up. "licence renewal?" the woman asked. "uh huh." i was told to stand in another line. after a while, the line next to us was told to merge with us because the woman at the desk was going to lunch. a few minutes later she started attending to other customers. "hey!" we all shouted. "i'm just going by the numbers," she said. that shut us up. we tried to make sense of what she had said. i decided it was a government plan to prevent alzheimer's by making our brains work. at last i made it to the front. and was immediately rejected. apparently it was a line for renewals only massachusetts to massachusetts. the woman told me i obviously had not been listening properly. i complained, and she sent me to the manager. he had a lovely purple shirt on. by this time, a tear or two of frustration had begun to roll down my cheek. this made the manager very kind and gentle. he explained to me that in any case i would have been rejected because i should have brought my passport with me. or a lease (i don't have one). or a cancelled cheque (i am all electronic these days). so i had to go home.

should i go back now? am not sure if i can handle it all again today. is this really the most efficient way for this office to work? who knows. anyway, i suspect that the deciding factor for me will probably be when i look in the rearview mirror and see how awful my hair is looking after all this tension. after all ... the real issue is surely what the photo on the licence is going to look like!

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