22 June 2008

People watching

A couple of weeks ago, while looking at my Drivers License, I observed an error. This was the year that I had to renew my license, which I did, but when I received the new one in the mail, I noticed that while the issue date was accurate, the expiration date was still July 2008. Back to the D.O.L. for another Saturday morning of taking numbers and waiting on uncomfortable plastic chairs with scads of teenagers and their parents; restless to get their drivers licenses and hit the road and hopefully nothing else. I’ll spare the jabs at the kids only because I was one once, and I could understand their excitement.

The last time that I was at the Department of Licensing, the ordeal took a couple of hours, I wasn’t looking forward to doing it again. This time before going in, I grabbed my little notebook from the KLR’s saddlebag to take notes of the various characters I saw while I waited; making the best of a dismal situation. This is what I observed.

Parents, lots of them, all of them as excited to be there as I was; except for one.

Obviously a Mother/Daughter team, Mom was as giggly and animated as the daughter. The daughter looked as if she must’ve spent most of her extracurricular time on the Cheerleading squad; she and Mom had an excessive amount of positive energy just sitting their waiting and whispering back and forth to each other with the verbal speed and efficiency of two auctioneers on NoDoz. They wore matching outfits, I’m not kidding.

Behind them sat two younger Asian men and an older gentleman. The two men, in their mid-20’s, had their faces buried in the study guides while the older fellow sat patiently. Occasionally one would whisper something to the other in a foreign language and then the two would bury their noses in the pages again.

There was a number of biker looking couples in the room, though I don’t know if they actually rode bikes or not, my Kawasaki was the only thing on two wheels out front at the time. A couple of leather vests, a lot of braided hair, one doo-rag, and five or six black t-shirts, one with the Hells Angels logo on the front, the wings behind the skull were colored yellow with a red outline. I couldn’t read the faded lettering on the top but I’m pretty sure that it didn’t have anything to do with the Hell’s Angels. My understanding is that the H.A. kind of “frown” on the unauthorized use of their logo’s; I wasn’t going to go ask the fellow wearing the t-shirt if he was aware of that. All of them seemed to have a problem with their wallets wandering off because they all appeared to be leashed to their belts.

The Marlboro Man even made a cameo. Big black Stetson, black leather vest over a denim shirt, a pair of Wranglers one size too small and pointed toe Cowboy boots that clopped against the tile floor wherever he walked; Mustache well groomed, he looked ready to have his picture taken. I wonder if he knows that he has to take the Stetson off for the photo.

My number was called and I approached the counter. I explained my situation to the lady behind the counter. She asked for $5.00, apparently the licensing fee increased June 1st. “But the mistake was made in May, and it was the Department of Licensing’s mistake.” I said.
She replied, “Yes, but now it’s June, $5.00.”
I inquired about the smaller number of people waiting this Saturday as opposed to the last time that I was here. She looked up and scanned the room and replied in a dry tone, “They aren’t done watching their Cartoons.” She gave me a piece of paper and told me to take a seat at the end of the counter until my name was called. On the wall behind her and just over her left shoulder a sign read, “Threatening a Government employee is a punishable offense.” Hmmm.

As I sat down, a Mother with her son was arguing with the balding man behind counter. From what information that I gathered, the son was 18 years old and wanted to take the written test so that he could get his permit. Trouble was that he hadn’t taken driver’s education, nor has he even read the Instruction Manual to prepare for the test. Careful Mom, read the sign.

Seated two chairs to my right was a teenage boy waiting with who I assume was his father. Dad looked like a Dad. Clean cut, shaven, nice clothes. The son, however, was a different story. He was your “average” Goth kid. Dressed head to toe in black; his limbs were gaunt and his skin ashen. It was rather apparent that this kid did not spend much time outside and definitely didn’t do anything too physical, I’m guessing 90-95 lbs. max. His crowning feature though was his hair; yes it was dyed jet black, but it’s length fell to his elbows and covered every part of his head, face included. The only noticeable feature on the front of his head was his nose peaking out. I don’t know how Dad felt about it, but to me, his son looked like physical proof that about sixteen years ago, “Cousin It” must've gotten laid at least once. That thought got stuck in my head, I couldn’t stop snickering.

Apparently the cheerleader had passed her written as she bounced from the testing area over to the counter giving a thumbs up to her teammate seated in the crowd, Mom clapped as she got up from her chair and made her way to her daughter’s side. Mom had the same bounce in her step.

While I waited, the room gradually began filling up with people. Some of them worth noting, while most just looked average. It was the few Odd ones in the group that seemed to give this otherwise dry government waiting room some color.

Growing up, Mom used to warn me that there was always one weirdo on the bus and to keep an eye out for him, I always kept a vigilant search, but never saw him............

My photo taken, I put my temporary license in my wallet, grabbed my helmet and walked out the door. While I left the place, riding to the motorcycle dealership to shop for a new helmet, I thought to myself, “I wonder, if the crowd at the D.O.L. noticed at all, the strange guy in the motorcycle jacket and pants at the front of the waiting room glancing back at the crowd, writing things in his notepad and then giggling like a stoner.”

“What a weirdo.”

Ride Well.


Charlie said...

I do the same type of people watching when I work at the fair. I am supposed to be watching a certain group of people but find myself continously meandering my eyes to all the srtange lot of people the fair attracts. I may have to write some of it down this year for a bit of a laugh later.

Kano said...

People watching is one my favorite things to do to when I'm stuck somewhere I don't want to be. They say "you can't tell a book by it's cover". But I think you can though, sure there's often surprises but overall it's pretty easy to get it more or less right what's going on with people by their appearance and demeanor. Unless of course you're hanging out at places bikers frequent. That tough looking dude with the Hell's Angels t-shirt could be your dentist, don't make him mad!

Earl Thomas said...

Charlie: Fairs, malls, bookstores, Farmers Markets, anywhere but the Men's restroom is fair game to me.

Kano: Pretty inexpensive entertainment for me, people watching.

Man I hope that dude's not my dentist, something about hairy knuckles in my mouth kinda sets me off.