I lined up for about 20 minutes at the Ministry of Transportation today to return the plates to a decommissioned car. People ahead of me were making sure that no one cut the line, even accidentally. People, mostly ladies, behind me hissed "this is ridiculous" at the long wait, as only a woman can hiss. I mentally mocked the idiots who waited so long only to reach the wicket and discover they weren't prepared - incomplete paperwork, incorrect information, lack of identification - all reasons to be rejected and sent grumblingly away to fix the problem and come back and do it all again.
People bemoaned that our city is down to only two places to come and renew licenses, plates, change ownership while others speculated on the fast spreading rumour that it is now actually possible to renew plates and licences on-line. On line, like this was some sort of LL Beanable experience. Not in-line, on-line! I started to consider that maybe this line didn't need to be so long if only some of these fools would apply their facebooking, e-baying skills to an annual government ritual. Imagine! I, of course, didn't have that luxury for what I needed to do, but come February, I promised myself, I'd be organized this time and do it with time to spare on line!
The number of rejects grew and stormed out blaming the employees who dared to ask that they come back prepared. Three of us in line engaged in discussions about how it "used to be" when we all lined up on the same day for plate renewals that actually got us new plates annually. My memory is of a kinder, happier time where friendships were renewed in a small town atmosphere of collegial bureacraziness. Actually, that conversation was the best part.
And then my turn came. And I wasn't prepared. No, I didn't have both plates. No, I lied, I'd lost the front plate in a ditch somewhere. (Actually we're keeping it for a souvenir - but the "lost in the collision" fib seemed original). She had that look on her face like she'd heard that one before. And she sent me packing to consider my transgressions and return either with both plates, or with the proper police info to prove that what I was saying was, if not a verifiable truth, then an officially recorded previously reported lie.
I'm betting that all I needed to know was available on the Ministry website, had I cared enough to investigate ahead of time. And as I cheerily slumped out the door, (no sense taking it out on the clerk), it occurred to me that the line would have been a lot shorter if everyone who should and could know better, did.
With apologies to those behind me who were prepared, I, for one, shouldn't have been there today taking up space.