Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tiny Chinese Guys and Me

Everyone goes to the DMV; everyone who drives, that is. And most adults I know drive, encompassing all social, economic and ethnic identities. If you drive, you must go to the DMV on occasion, where the great democratic equalizer is in effect. No matter who you are, if you go to the DMV, you will sit there, number in hand, waiting your turn.

Unless you make an appointment, which is another story entirely.

My point is that everyone, me, you, Michael Moore, Charlton Heston, Elton John, Colin Powell, Jr., Gavin Newsom, Snoop Dogg, we all go to the DMV. Why, then, is it that everytime I go to the DMV it is full to overflowing with very small, old Chinese men?

I went to the DMV today. Actually, it was requested that I go to the DMV today. Sandra Bullock, realizing that our infamous 8-year-old Subaru was in need of registration, left me a note: Register Subaru, it read, and also, pick up check registry. In a nostalgic recall of the years 1992-1997, she was long gone before I awoke at 9 am. With the Jawa gone this week, my internal clock has recalibrated itself to a comfortable 9 am wakeup time. This wakeup time is adding pounds to my already overloaded frame, as it does not allow for morning workouts at 24-Hour Fitness.

Meanwhile, today I am left with the note, so I drive down to the DMV, where I find, as usual, ten thousand elderly Chinese men. They are standing in line, some quietly, some reading colorful Mandarin-language newspapers, some dragging (even tinier) children, dressed in clothing even more colorful than the newspapers. Some are speaking loudly, at supersonic speed, on cell phones. But they are there.

Sure, a few others are sprinkled in. There's me, for example, clutching a newspaper, my Walkman, my registration papers, and the Krispy Kreme donut that drew me in because of its proximity to the DMV. If this was a test, I failed.

Also present are a few Mexican guys wearing cowboy hats and a handful of nervous 16-year-olds. All are overwhelmed by the little old Chinese guys. A small sampling of the DMV would suggest that San Francisco roads are occupied mostly by little old Chinese guys, and, now that I think of it, that sampling would not be entirely untrue.

Today's DMV experience, though labranthine, was not unpleasant. I sat, I ate my donut, I read about yesterday's NBA draft. A half-hour later, I joined 10,000 little old Chinese guys in the parking lot, then followed them out into the streets.

Later, I created a virtual DMV experience behind the wheel. This time, however, rather than navigating a confusing maze of lines on foot, I created my own confusion behind the wheel. My search for a B of A (where I could pick up check registry) took me through parts of South San Francisco I had never before seen. My every decision was wrong, taking me deeper and deeper into South City's dilapidated residential neighborhoods. It was as if the driving gods, recognizing that my DMV experience had not been unpleasant, decided to dole out a little on-road punishment to even the score.

Next time I'll make an appointment. Or do it online. I'll miss the tiny little Chinese guys, their brightly-clad children and high volume cell phone conversations, but I will save hours, leaving me free for further exploration of the mean streets of South San Francisco.


Anonymous Zin Gal said...

Hint: Register cars at the CSAA office in Serramonte. No lines no waiting.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous the hammer said...

Zin gal stole my thunder - AAA is the way to go for immediate gratification, otherwise, on line is great (for driver's licenses also). BTW, you don't have to be a bank customer to drop into any branch and get a check register. You and I must be the only ones that don't use on-line banking so I still know about check registers. Remember, you named me the hammer for a reason, and it's not the reason that most folks think.

2:31 PM  
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