Wednesday, August 04, 2010

How Was It Possible That Men Did Not See Whither They Were Going, and Went On, in Blindness and Cowardice, to Their Fate

Day One
We wake early, wake the babies and hurriedly get dressed. We made sure all our papers are in order before setting off on our journey. We find the building and arrive ten minutes before it openes. To our astonishment, dozens of others are already waiting. Others like us, with dreams and a very short amount of time to make those dream come true. The line of people is so long it wraps around the building. We sigh and take the babies out of the car to stand in line; still tired from a restless night cut too short. After ten minutes the line slowly begins to move: the building has opened! We smile and make a few jokes. The line stops moving, then moves, then stops. Fifteen minutes later we are still outside in the gray morning air; we haven't even turned the first corner. A uniform comes out and demands attention: The building's computer are down. The problem is statewide. We all have to leave. A few people leave, most wait around, waiting for more news. There is no more news to give. After a short discussion we turn our backs on our dreams and pack the babies back in the car. Our dreams will have to wait until tomorrow.

Day Two
The next morning our alarm blares even earlier than the day before. Drearily we wake the babies and pack into the car. There isn't time to eat anything; we want to make it to the building before the line forms. We arrive thirty minutes before the building opens, but we are not the only ones came so early; the line is shorter than the day before, but not by much, and more people arrive every minute. We stand in line again, trying not to fall asleep, wishing that a breakfast shop would open up next door to feed all the hungry people. The babies are angry; they want to get down and play, but there is no playground, no grass, only cold, hard cement and a few clumps of dirt mixed with cigarette butts. I stake my place in line then leave to follow the people to the front of the building. Uniforms are pushing a cart filled with papers and pens. They ask the people in line to fill out the forms so once the building opens the process can speed along. I go back to my place in line and wait. Thirty minutes later the building opens. Once again I leave my place to make sure the computers are working. The uniform I ask tells me that so far the computers are up, and they have not crashed...yet. We wait in line. We wait and wait and wait. Finally we are inside the building. Aghast we look around; the line inside is just as long as the line outside. It curves and winds around ropes. Still, we are inside. The line is moving. We are hopeful enough to give each other weak smiles, afraid that anything more will somehow cause the computers to crash and out dreams to tumble down on our heads.
After a long time we make it to the front of the line. We explain that we want identification cards and papers for our vehicle. The uniform frowns and gives us a form to fill out. She tells us we can get the papers for our vehicle, but the computers for identification papers are down statewide and we'll have to come back a different day. We try to protest but she glares at us and points to another line. It's then we realize that the desk at the front of the line, the desk we waited over an hour to reach, the desk we are located, is simply the replacement of the cart; it gives you the form to fill out and tells you which line you need to stand in next. Wearily, we stand in the next line and wait.
Finally it's our turn. We show the proper papers, sign the proper forms and pay the proper amount. We wait in line to have our vehicle inspected, then wait in line to show that our vehicle is inspected. At long last it seems we are done. Our vehicle papers will arrive in the mail in a few weeks. We ask the clerk about papers for us, and she points us to another line, where we can make an appointment. We wait in line and miraculously, make an appointment to come back in a week to get our identification papers.

Day Three
A letter arrives in the mail. It does not contain our new vehicle papers, but a notice, saying there was a clerical error and we must pay an extra fee to get out vehicle papers. In order to pay the fee we must mail the form back along with the money. We do as we are instructed.

Day Four
It's the of day our appointment. Our appointment is in the afternoon. It interrupts nap schedules and work days, but we attend anyway. As we approach the building we see a sign on the front steps with a handwritten message proclaiming that the monetary machines are down statewide and only cash will be accepted. With heavy hearts we share sorrowful glances; we didn't bring enough cash. Still, we've come to far to be deterred. The line still overflows from the front doors and winds down the side of the building, but having an appointment means we skip the first line and go straight to the first desk, where we fill out a form and are told which line to wait in next. Instead of waiting, I leave the babies with him and run back outside, hop in the vehicle and drive to nearest store where I buy a candy bar and withdraw cash. I take the currency back to the building and discover that there is no room for my vehicle. I drive around for several minutes until I follow a person exiting the building back to their vehicle and occupy the same spot they vacate.
I rush inside and find that my number was called just minutes before. The forms are all filled out so I simply hand them to the uniform. We show the proper papers, sign the proper forms and pay the proper amount. We are directed to another line. We wait to get our picture taken, or signature scanned and out thumbprint immortalized in their network. We are then handed a test. It's no simple feat to juggle two babies while trying to concentrate on a test, but we manage somehow and stand in line to have our tests graded.
His process is simple; he passed the test and would have his identification papers mailed to him. I am not so lucky; I passed the test but long ago I lost my identification paper, thus why I wanted new ones so very much, but without them they could only treat me as a teenager. I need to make an appointment to take a driving test, pay a large fine and come back later. I refuse. I've come too far to leave now and I didn't withdraw enough cash to cover the large fine. The uniform gives me a number to call and tells me to step out of line. I do as I am told. I call, but the uniform on the other end of line is much worse than any uniform in the building; no faxing, no mailing, to emailing. I was instructed to obtain a form, fill it out, have it notorized, and mail it along with a substantial fee to another building and then wait for several months. This, too, is not an option. Defeated only for a moment, we walk back out to our vehicle. I look through my bags and search the vehicle until I find it; a copy of my very first identification paper. I return inside, wait in the line and present my find at the desk. The uniform nods; it will work. I sign more papers and the uniform informs me my identification papers will be mailed to me.

We will see.

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