took a personal day friday in order to go to the local dmv and officially, after almost four years here, become a new yorker. it was an excruciating process.
there was one giant, winding line, like the line to ride the mr. twister at elitch's in denver, back and forth, back and forth. and everyone's on their phones, voices raised because the reception sucks in the waiting area. one woman had her phone open and in speaker mode. her friend's tinny, amplified voice filled the waiting area.
phone: what you doin' girl?
girl: mm. just waitin' in this here line at the dmv.
phone: oh shit girl, you gonna be there foreva.
girl: mm hmm.
phone: you got all you papers n' shit?
girl: oh yeah girl, i ain't gonna stand here alll day'n not have my papers.
phone: oh that's good. you know they be needin' more papers now. my sister, she got this friend, he made her fake papers and they don't look twice. she get her id n' shit.
girl: no shit!
another woman on her cell phone: listen, baby. you got to get your money from him. uh huh. listen to me. you go and you get that kid a dna test. uh huh. mm hmm. no it's free. listen, i know cuz that's where i got mine done. uh huh. all these fukas lookin at me funny now cuz i talkin all loud about child support and shit all loud in this goddamned line. THAT'S RIGHT FUKAS I'M TALKIN BOUT CHILD SUPPORT.
after three hours in the line you reach a point where you turn a corner and can see the desk. it's at this point that you realize that there is only one woman
working behind a desk. for many people this was a breaking point. in hushed disbelieving tones, one person after another takes in this revelation. 'wha..? there's only..? how can..? they only got one woman..? but..? why would they...? how can they do that?' i think it must be a great entertainment for the guards, to watch people turn the corner and either fill with rage or hopelessness.
finally, when i get up to the desk, the lone woman, the single arbiter of out of state transfer driver's licenses for new york city blankly looks at the series of documents i've spread out before her.
lone woman: ooh.
lone woman: lemme see.
lone woman: uh oh.
lone woman: well shoot.
lone woman: i ain't got no paper clips.
she pushes her chair away from the desk. hands on the armrests. endless shifting of weight. getting out of chair like molasses. step. pause. step. pause. step. pause. after twenty step pauses she disappears down the hallway.
an eternal two minutes later i see her enormous bosom peek from around the corner. she is holding a small box of paper clips. step. pause. step. pause x20.
and molasses lowering back into the chair.
she fiddles with the box.
lone woman: shoot. this thing.
lone woman: lorraine, you got scissors?
lone woman: you got scissors?
lorraine: what you need scissors for?
lone woman: i ran outta paper clips.
lorraine: so you gonna use scissors?
lone woman: (bursting into laughter) ooooh! shooot! how you think i'm gonna do that? girl you crazy! woo!
lorraine: how i know what you gonna do? girl you say you don't got no paper clips then you say 'lorraine you got scissors?' what i'm supposed to think!?
lone woman: hoo hoo! shoot! hoo! no girl.. ooh! no girl. i just hahah. i just gotta. woo! i just gotta open the box. never mind. i got it.
my papers are clipped, finally, and i am sent to wait another half hour for my picture to be taken. then i wait another half hour to get my temporary license. finally, i am free. and if the license doesn't officialy make me a new yorker, the experience of getting it does.