Government Agencies at Christmas

There may be no greater joy than having to go the Department of Public Safety here in Texas. Truly. This joy could only be compounded by having  to go to the Social Security office first, then to the DPS for my license. Oh glory!

The Social Security office looked like a scene from a movie. Everyone in plastic chairs, perfectly lined up, all staring straight ahead. Occasionally, a crackle, a pop and a computerized voice (whom I named Betty) would announce, “Now serving number 82 at window 3”. Then the television screen at the front of this sad room would then update and the staring would continue.

With ticket number in hand, the minutes ticked by. Naturally, I had a book in my bag (not to mention every government paper ever issued to me or about me. I was NOT going home without a newly updated name on my s.s card), but Betty’s voice made it difficult to concentrate.

What if I was thoroughly engaged in my book and my number was called? Who would I tell? Would I start over again? Oh no, the stress was far too great to be involved in any sort of reading.

And then, number 178 was called!!

I strolled down row after row of closed windows, until I found myself face to face with a scary bureaucratic woman asked for every bit of information purtaining to me, my family, and Skippy, the German Schnauzer who once bit me.

At the end of her furious typing and my silently waiting. She stared deep into her computer screen and proclaimed that any information that is falsified to ‘us’ can result in legal action.

“We have the right to investigate all information given. We have the right to follow up on the information. We take this matter very seriously. Do we understand?”  My guess is I was working with the spirit of all Social Security Officers of Christmas Past, Present, & Future. We nodded and we left.


The DPS was more fun. Take a 10×20 room, and then stuff it full of broken plastic chairs,  languages of multiple kinds, and varying success rates of deodorant.  As number 282, I knew my first priority was to snag a seat, lest I be resigned to the doorway for an untold number of hours.

Now I was raised to always give your seat to an elder.  I chose to deploy ‘elder’ as a very loose term on this day. The elderly were already seated, so I only had to beat out the 25 slightly-older-than-me’s milling around. My only benefit?  I was flying solo.

All I had to do was stalk out the person who looked ready to bolt to the ticket window. When those numbers switched, he or she would bounce out of chair and I would take the opportunity. After a few awkward minutes of staring, the numbers clicked and with swift action, I swooped in on a vacant seat as soon as number 124 was called (this was done with dramatic flair, of course).

The next 78 minutes flew by. My seat was wonderfully located adjacent to other rows of chairs. So as the numbers were called in excruciatingly slow order, my seat allowed me the distinct joy of being step on or contorting my legs to allow full grown adults the aisle room they so deserve.. .1 3/4 inches wide.

My other benefit to this exclusive seat was having the exciting pleasure of being wedged between two charming groups, each with a family feud happening somewhere on the other end of their phone. The screaming was only sweetened by the baby that began howling. Perhaps the child was sad that he was born at the DPS office. Conveniently though, he would already be in line for his driver’s license when that time came.

My leg room...

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