Oh boy! A big vacation! Three months in the sun!
Oh boy! It’s Saturday at 2:45 p.m. We are on our way. It is early December and we feel as though we are playing hooky from winter.
Oh boy! We are zipping down state Route 41, just passing the sign that says “One Stop Shop.” This is where a person goes to get license plates, get a new car title, and get a driver’s license renewed.
Oh boy! It occurs to me that my very own driver’s license expires in precisely three days. We do a very speedy turn-around and pull into the driver’s license place. They closed 45 minutes ago.
Oh boy! As you can see, it’s taken me nine months to even speak about this incident. I am hoping the statute of limitations has run out.
Well, I got to Florida, the place with the sun, but it’s not clear to me what will happen next. I am hundreds of miles away from home with an expired driver’s license.
The following Monday I called the BMV in Columbus. A very pleasant woman there explained exactly how I can renew my license by mail. She says she will send me all the forms. She says she will send me a temporary license to drive on so I do not spend my vacation in a Florida jail. She tells me how long it will take to process the paperwork. She is incredibly nice and helpful. She actually mails everything she says she will mail. I am petitioning the Ohio legislature to name a building after her.
Due to circumstances beyond my ability to control or understand, I cannot satisfy the requirements for the paperwork because I cannot find a single place in central Florida to perform a specific part of the eye exam. The irony is not lost on me, brother. I am in Florida, where 9.5 out of 10 residents are retirees. You know, senior citizens. Citizens whose vision is faulty. Citizens who need the services of eye doctors. Eye doctors who do, you know, eye exams. Just not the right ones. Luckily, my temporary license is good for 90 days so I am still hoping to avoid sharing a cell with a member of the drug cartel.
After exposing my skin to all the UV rays tolerable, I leave Florida on a Sunday afternoon. By exquisite timing, I drive back down state Route 41 around 11 in the morning and pull right into that one stop BMV shop to get my license. This process involves (cue scary movie music dah-dah-DAH) interacting with a computer.
Computers, don’t let them fool you, are not inanimate objects. Oh, they’d like you to think they are. That’s when they strike, just like a data-chipped cobra. My personal experience with computers has been one of deep distrust and betrayal. My computer promises to save my word documents but the sad truth is, sometimes it doesn’t. Its job is not strictly to make me feel like a moron but the sad truth is, sometimes it does. When I have a little set-to with the machine I try to fix it just like the local computer guru has instructed me to fix it. My computer finds this hilarious. It will defy me and defy me. I will call in the heavy hitter. The guru his very self will come in and do EXACTLY what I just did. The computer quits acting like a cobra and starts acting like a love-starved lap dog.
The BMV cobra, though, struck not only me. It struck thousands. It seems that approximately 10 seconds after I swore to the nice license lady that I had no outstanding warrants and wasn’t addicted to drugs, the state-wide license-granting computer program — to use the technical term — went right into the toilet. To quote the enormously patient and hard-working crew of the shop, “It could be down for minutes or for hours. We don’t know.”
I was not, as you can understand, feeling particularly lucky at this point. True, the efficient staff had gotten to me fairly quickly (“Now serving number 46. Number 46.”) But I had been driving for a long long time. I had navigated Atlanta’s burned-out Interstate. (Also, incidentally, on fire was a tree alongside the pavement and a car in the right-hand lane. It was as though General Sherman had returned.) I had played tag-team with the same 25 semis up and down the hills of Tennessee. I had come through the cut of the hill south of Cincinnati almost unscathed. I was a little tired and, yes, a little grouchy and longing for my own bed with an intensity that seems in retrospect to be a little unnatural.
But when the bad computer gods have it in for you, the bad computer gods have it in for you. I hung around for an hour thinking that any minute, any minute now the good computer gods would win the battle over evil and prevail. Hah!
The only things that prevailed was a return trip the next day. Cobra: 1. Marla: 0.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.
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