THE REVOLUTION RESTARTS AT THE REGISTRY

RESTART – WHEN YOUR LICENSE EXPIRES


Some years back, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided they could save a few bucks if they stopped reminding people to renew their drivers licenses. We are all supposed to remember what year our license expires. Since drivers licenses are good for five years, pretty much no one remembers. If you miss the date, you can’t renew online. That means ONLY in person.

Registry of Motor Vehicles – Worcester

It doesn’t matter if it’s one day or 3 years overdue. If the license has expired, you must come to the RMV in person — to get an eye test. According to the RMV, there is a direct, if somewhat obscure and mystical connection between an expired license and failing eyesight.

Note: After 4 years, you have to start over as if you never had a license at all, including written and road tests.

To save us even more money, the Commonwealth decided to close down all the kiosk RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicle) mini offices at malls where you could get simple tasks completed quickly and conveniently. Then they closed more than half the local RMV branches, keeping only the main offices open.

Between one thing and another, the result is a guaranteed daily pile-up of disgruntled Massachusetts motorists at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Wait here!

Garry discovered his license had expired and came home upset. I tried to renew it on-line, but though it had expired less than two weeks earlier, he had to renew in person because he needed an eye test. A punitive eye test. It is your punishment for not noticing that your license was expiring. He wondered if he could defer it. No one wants to go to the RMV, but there’s no reprieve. Driving around with an expired license is not an option. Should something happen –even a minor fender bender — you would end up getting hit with a fine that would make your head spin.

We headed up to Worcester, which according to the RMV office was our nearest branch. That turned out to be untrue, but we needed to get it done and had barely enough time. Away we went. It was a trip backwards in time.

And still we wait.

I remember saying many years ago that when the revolution came, it will begin at the motor vehicle bureau where frustrated, tired, aggravated citizens get bounced from place to place in pursuit of accomplishing a simple goal in a reasonable length of time. That we were at the RMV at all was because some moron thought sending a postcard to licensed drivers every 5 years was costing too much money. I’d like to see a cost analysis on this brilliant piece of legislation.

There used to be dozens of queues at the RMV. In the bad old days, you waited on whichever line you thought was the right one until you got to the front, discovered you had been waiting on the wrong line, and were directed to some other place to restart.

After several hours of bouncing from line to line, with the queues getting longer and angrier as the day wore on, at 5 o’clock sharp, they’d close and tell you to come back another day. The new method eliminates lines. Not a queue in sight. The Powers That Be have used chaos theory and a non-linear approach to eliminate lines and logic simultaneously. It’s a new world, a science fiction world, a completely incomprehensible world.

To get you oriented, everyone starts on a single information line where you get a little deli counter paper ticket. On it is printed a 3-digit number preceded by a letter. We were I-256.

There are letter codes A, B, C, D, F, G, I and Z. I do not know what any of them mean or if they mean anything. I don’t know why those letters were chosen as opposed to other letters. It’s all part of the non-linear thing. In the front lobby, there is a single, rather small illuminated sign that flashes the next number up. There is no order to what combinations of numbers and letter might be next.

Any combination can be called any time to any window. There were about 24 queues, though not all were open. If you got lucky, you could hear a sotto voce announcement I’m sure Garry couldn’t hear at all and I could only hear parts of and only sometimes. There were words to the effect that “We are now serving A-132 at window 14” and that number would flash on the screen. Sometimes they would flash the number for a couple of minutes, sometimes for just a few seconds.

They might be serving Z-542 at window 2, followed by D-234 at window 17. Everyone hovered near the screen because the noise level precluded being able to hear anything. When finally your number was up, you had to dash madly to whatever line you were called, which could be a long run (in my case, hobble) to the other side of the building. No way to know how soon you would be waiting. You didn’t dare leave, not even to go the bathroom.

Garry was baffled. I said that the RMV had eliminated bourgeois linearity and gone to a non-linear chaos-based formula.

“What?” he said.

“Completely random,” I assured him. We were both having flashbacks to the near riots of the 1960s as the lines in the motor vehicle bureau would stretch into the street and around the block.

Finally?

There were just as many people waiting now as then, but there were no lines, just folks sitting on hard benches with dull, blank faces or milling around wondering what happened to order and logic, and why don’t they simply send a postcard reminding you to renew your license? It took three and a half hours.

I took some pictures. Security concluded I was a terrorist.  I took the pictures quickly. By the time they told me to put the camera away because “this is a State building!” (what that had to do with anything I don’t know), my camera was out of sight and I was standing around looking bored, annoyed, and out-of-sorts. Like everyone else.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Finally, they called us. Garry got a new picture which is nominally less horrible than the one he had for the past 10 years. He passed his eye test, signed an autograph for the lady who served us (who became much less rude and more helpful after recognizing Garry as the TV guy), and we finally got out of there.

Are they really saving money? I don’t think they actually pay for official mailings anyway, so it this simply one more way to annoy us? I don’t believe for a moment the savings are not more than offset by needing many more people at the RMV  rather than letting us renew our licenses on our computers. At home.

PROCLIVITY?

I have not a single thought to go with proclivity as a prompt. I know what it means. Definition isn’t the issue. It’s just that my head is empty. Nothing pops up. Not a memory from way back when — or a line from a movie — or the title of a song.

Nada.

Nothing.

Zero.

Sometimes, the magic works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Maybe next time?

I think the household is going through post-holiday burnout while we wait for a plow to dig us out. If we get dug out, I can call the oil truck. Right now, it’s all about waiting, while the dogs are sound asleep.

That’s probably what I should be doing, if I think about it.

WAITING IS – SEPTEMBER’S WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

WordPress WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: WAITING

The Weekly Photo Challenge is on a break this week. Since waiting was a great topic, I thought I’d add a new one to last week’s subject. After all, I am always waiting for something. When I finish waiting for whatever I was waiting for, I’m immediately awaiting something else.

Life. Is. Waiting.

Or, as Michael Valentine Smith used to says: “Waiting is.”

Even when the waiting is framed with positive anticipation, it’s still waiting. Waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle. Waiting for the show to begin. Waiting to get your hands on your new car. Whatever it is, first — you wait.

Waiting for Garry to come inside
Waiting at the Registry of Motor Vehicles
Waiting for the graduates to appear!
Waiting for the next guests
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

BEFORE THE FALL

WordPress WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: WAITING

Above and into the falls

We live in a region of rivers and dams. Back when this country was more a hope than a reality, this was the river where America’s transition to industrialization began.

According to the National Parks guide:


“The Blackstone River Valley of Massachusetts and Rhode Island is the “Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution,” the place where America made the transformation from Farm to Factory. America’s first textile mill could have been built along practically any river on the eastern seaboard, but in 1790 the forces of capital, ingenuity, mechanical know-how and skilled labor came together at Pawtucket, Rhode Island where the Blackstone River provided the power that kicked off America’s drive to industrialization.”


It’s easy to see our history when you live in the Blackstone Valley. There were 46 dams on the Blackstone River. There are some fewer now. They are trying to remove dams and let the river run freely. But wherever you see a dam, there was a mill, a factory, or both at that turning of the river.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Below the falls

The soil supporting these dams is terminally hazardous. Packed behind the dams, it can’t spread its poison downstream. Allowed to run into the rivers, it could easily poison the river that was saved from (and is still being saved from) some of the worst pollution anywhere in the world. In the mid 1974, the Blackstone was considered one of the three most polluted rivers in the U.S. Today, it’s a living river filled with birds and fish and even some humans enjoying its waters.

Waiting on the Mumford River in Uxbridge

Most of the remaining dams will stay where they are. The danger to the environment that would come with removing them is incalculable. Thus we enjoy the beauty of the dams. Swans, geese, ducks, divers and the occasional beavers enjoy the calm waters. While swimming is still forbidden both because of the still somewhat polluted water and the dangerous currents in the river, trout breed there and the river is open for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing along many banks.

Waiting and the rush

All the dams were built between 1789 and the early 1900s. Each dam is unique to its place on the river and built of natural local stone.

The pool that forms in the pond before the waterfall is always as still as a glass mirror. It’s remarkable how clear and shiny that water is. Barely a ripple to announce the imminent falling of water over a dam that may be just inches away.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

WAITING – COMING HOME: THURDAY’S SPECIAL

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: WAITING

Waiting. Waiting for the clouds to burst? For the road to take us home?  Long drives are the essence of waiting. In both pictures, we were almost home.

jupiter najnajnoviji

THE PAUSE IN TIME

A pause in the timeline? How much waiting is good for the soul and how much makes you crazy?

In “Stranger In A Strange Land,” Michael Valentine Smith typically said “Waiting is.” It was a zen-like inscrutable comment. Like Bill Belichick’s “It is what it is.” Both translate loosely to “The moment contains what it contains. Since we can’t do much about it, we might as well shut up and go with the flow.”

The long pause of waiting doesn’t get you anything but a seat on the bus or maybe an opportunity to explain something to a bureaucrat when your numbered slip of paper is finally called.

Nor, in my opinion, do the meek inherit the earth, unless you count a grave as an inheritance. Waiting — a lack of activity or withdrawal from events in progress — may keep you out of trouble, but it won’t get you noticed. The doctor won’t come out and see you on the bench. It won’t make anyone pick up your manuscript and decide to publish it. It won’t get your job done — any job, anywhere. It won’t get you a job.

Sounds good on paper, but what does it mean? If it means “the baby won’t come until it’s fully developed.” That’s good. When it means let the bread rise before you bake it? Okay. These are not anywhere like being on hold while someone on the other side of the world finally gets around to taking your call … then disconnects you.

The pause is between times. A longer pause is stasis. Anyone been up for jury duty, sat in a big room with a lot of other people who don’t want to be there … and then get told you aren’t allowed to talk, read, or leave the room until someone says you can? That is waiting at it’s finest because 90% of the time, someone will come in to tell you to go home. You were paused. For nothing.

I wait only for things to bloom, develop, be delivered, cool, bake, dry, or land at the airport. Otherwise, there other things to do.

“Stranger in a Strange Lane” was a fine book in its day, but I will not grok at the motor vehicle bureau.

ACCEPTING WHATEVER IT MAY BE

ACCEPTING, ACCEPTANCE, AND MOVING ON

It’s one of the things you learn getting older. You really can’t fight all the battles because there are too many battles and too few of you. So you accept that the plow driver knocked down half a wall and dug up a big chunk of garden … which someone is going to have to fix because it’s like hideous mud and rock central on the driveway.

You look at the door, realize it’s begun to rot a bit under the sill. You shrug. It’ll get dealt with, eventually. Not by me, of course. I don’t do sills.

The garden is a mess. The trees are breeding caterpillars. The dogs need a haircut and, for that matter, so do I. It’ll get sorted out. Or not. The places I plan to go, but the drive is too long — or the directions too complicated. The places I  ought to go, but don’t want to, at least not enough to make such an effort.

When I was 30, I went. Regardless. For the adventure, if nothing else. At 70? Adventure is great if I don’t have to walk over rough ground to experience it. So I know in advance of plans that I might go, but maybe I really won’t. Even if not doing so involves guilt and regret.

There’s a lot of acceptance going around. It’s not all that bad. After all those years of doing everything I was supposed to do and 50% more because I believed I should go that extra “mile,” I would have expected the changeover from “must” to “I’ll get to it” to be … more intense maybe?

Turns out, many of the things I did were not half as important as they seemed at the time. Can’t even remember most of them. But my brain screamed: “YOU MUST DO THAT NOW!” Phumf.

Now, I don’t even think about the why of it all. If it’s a doctor, I will deal with it, though I may defer the visit a couple of times until I get to it. Taxes? Well, you have to do them, at least if you want your money back. Visiting friends or having them visit? No question, I want to do it … if it will just please stop snowing. Vacations if reservations are involved and dates for dogs to be attended get worked out. We go.

On the “it’s almost work” front, writing a piece that’s bouncing around in my head. Checking in on friends, internet and otherwise.

Wondering why Gibbs was staring at the wall in the kitchen and growling ferociously. What did he see that I probably should know about?

Thinking I’d like to buy a video game, but wondering if I’d have the time to play it because my hobby (Serendipity) has become increasingly intense as the years have marched on. Or, as I said to Garry just last night: “Yes, it is a bit like work, but it’s writing. If I weren’t writing for Serendipity, I’d be writing for no one. I am going to write. Might as well write so other people can read it.”

Everything else can wait. Possibly until the next life rolls around.