Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nothing Says Happy Birthday Like A Long Effing Line

I have gazed upon the gate of Hell, and it is located in the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles. I now know why they have a four year interval between renewals. It's so your scarred and battered psyche can recover from the unrelenting boredom of waiting hours before you lie about your weight, read a line of letters, and have an extremely unflattering picture taken.

At least now you can sit in a chair instead of shuffling forward in a recreation of a Depression era bread-line (but with less hope). No longer do you need to physically stand in line to renew your license. No, now you're in a virtual line. You are given a number with a letter prefix, the letter corresponding for your license classification; B for Basic, C for Commercial. There were also the letters A, D, F and G. While I was there I think I figured out D and F (Driving Test and Foreign), but A and G eluded me. And everything is controlled by a computerized display and voice directing the next numbers to what attendant to go.

My first thought was that they had streamlined things, and my wait would be minimal. After all, there were only about 40 people waiting. I was B201 and B197 had just been called.


While they went in numeric order for any given category (for instance B101 would follow B100). There was no rhyme or reason to the order overall. B197 could be followed by G140, or C121, or D47. And it was. I waited 2 hours to for them to move through 3 "B" numbers. There were people who arrived after I did that got to the counter first. There were also some lost souls that were there when I showed up that were still waiting when I left.

My theory is this: the computer in charge of the queue has achieved self awareness and is irrevocably insane. And not the happy kind of insanity. No, this is the malicious kind. If it had access to one of these things, it would have still made us wait only to turn us into some kind of Soylent Green
pâté after our number had been called. I had actually entered a Zen-like state where the mysteries of the universe were about to unfold before me and... my number was called, snapping me back to banality.

I think the computer did it deliberately.