Random Thoughts

Government Offices

Well some news that maybe not all of you know yet is that due to the economy, my full time job has turned into a part time job (significantly part time). I do have to be nice since my bosses from that job check my site, but I’m not covering anything up when I say that I don’t hold any grudges or anger towards them, and certainly don’t envy their position at all.  I’m excited in an odd way as this does open up my time a little more for other things, and also doesn’t force me to work and be alone so much anymore, which is something I continue to NOT get good at (introverts, I envy you).

So first I just wanted to get that out of the way, as it is partially because of that that I’ve had to visit a few different Government offices recently, and I do have to say that there are few less pleasurable things to do in the world.  Frontal labotomy, biking the winter Chicago lakeshore with no gloves on, and maybe working the doors at Wal-Mart on Black Friday come to mind, but that’s about it.  So I figured I’d share my experiences with you.

Mission #1 – Get an Illinois License

Location – Secretary of State, State Building, Randolph St., Downtown
Time – Mid-day

Upon glancing at the Secretary of State webpage, I could tell I would need some identification.  No problem, as I have a MI state ID.  I’m betting they’ll want more than that though, so I grabbed my trusty birth certificate and social security card, deciding to leave my Croatian papers behind.  I show up at the office and before I can even get in the door, I’m in line.  I noticed a waiting room to my left, filled with people who looked like they were either waiting for their blood test results or just wanted to die already.  This mission may be a lengthier trip than I initially predicted.

After waiting in line and watching the initial “check-in” lady emotionally batter each person ahead of me with fuhrer-like precision, it was my turn.  She asked me “what are you here for?” to which I wanted to respond “do you have like $2 I could have, I just want to buy some fries” but I decided instead to come clean.

“I’m here to switch my driver’s license from Michigan to Illinois.”

“Do you have your driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate, and utility bill?”

Utility Bill!  My plan was already foiled, but on the bright side, she apparently wanted to pay for my heat, so silver lining.

Mission Result:  Failure

Mission #2 – Get small piece of paper, complete gauntlet, earn Illinois Driver’s License

Location:  Ending scene from Running Scared starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines
Time:  Mid-drug bust

Credentials in hand, I returned to wait in line, determined to achieve my mission.  However, this time I wore an irritated expression to blend in with the locals.  I approached the overlord and stated my intentions.

“Do you have your driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate, and utility bill?” he asked, almost expecting me to be missing one of those, but I defiantly responded “Yes sir, here they are!”  Clearly I was a worthy adversary.  After perusing my documents, he gave me a number and instructed me to join the sleepy eyed masses who were either waiting for their number to be called, or for Ellis Island to appear on the horizon.  How they yearned to breath free.

I was perplexed at this point, as I did not comprehend how “handing out a number” could possibly inspire such a power trip.  That was literally his only purpose.  This was indeed a curious fortress to penetrate.

After waiting several thousand seconds, my number was called.  Not only was my number literally called over a speaker system, but the number flashed on a screen above the waiting area, then on a screen above the counters, then above another screen at the very counter itself, so that should I experience total vertigo at any point in my journey from waiting area to counter, I could probably still find the counter.

The lady I encountered here was my first ally.  She was personable, even downright cheerful.  Unfortunately, my encounter with her proved to be brief, as she very shortly afterward instructed me to visit the cashier on the other side of the room.

When I arrived at the cashier to pay my fee of $10, she had apparently just heard about the crisis in Darfur, the collapsing economy, or that her family had been killed, because my $10 license fee was not a welcome site.  Luckily for me, our encounter was also brief, ending with her requesting that I take a test to prove that I can drive.  To take that test, I would need to exit the queue, and enter a new queue to visit the lady sitting approximately 12 inches from her.  I decided to comply instead of asking the obvious question “why are both of you necessary?”

So I stepped next door and received my test, which was handy because in the time I’d been there, I had completely forgotten how to drive.  I managed to pass the test on instinct alone.  At this point she took my Michigan license telling me “this is ours now.”  She then instructed me to visit yet another, and I assume top secret, room in which I can only hope I will receive the fruit of my efforts, though from her description, the room I was going to evidently contained the very essence of darkness.

I entered the room, only this time there was no overlord, and with no information, I was now completely lost.  I saw two people taking pictures, so I inadvertently interrupted one to figure out what I needed to do (some lady’s license picture will now forever contain my looming shadow).  She simply told me “we’ll call your name.”

What sort of witchcraft was this?  I had not told them my name, nor did I have an id anymore to prove it.  I glanced in the other room to see if semaphores or smoke signals were being used to communicate my name from room to room, but there were no such clues.  Shortly after that, the lady called my name.  Whatever magic lurked, it seemed to have worked, and my mission was painfully close to accomplishment.

I sat on a folding chair, gave my apparently best “hungover half-smile” and was shortly after given a license.  I turned in stoic fortitude and took in the breadth of the domain I had just conquered.  I would miss this barren land, though I hope to never return.  Now if only I can find where to get license plates…..

Stay tuned for another exciting edition of Government Offices!  Next week, our hero takes on the Evil Secretary of State Automobile Division and their metal wielding manbots!

1 thought on “Government Offices”

  1. Great story, Morgan! Reminds me of my own experiences trying to get a license and license plate/title. But if you think the Secy of State is bad, try the Illinois State Board of Education. It’s been four years, and fortunately, I teach at a school that doesn’t care that my certificate is still from Michigan…

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