The Secretary of State’s office. On a clear day you can see the head of the line.
--How’d it go?
--Better than I thought it would. On the way there, I gave myself a pep talk. “Be calm, think positively. Remember the Tao. Think in terms of complementary opposites, not of good and bad.”
--And this worked? For you? At a Secretary of State’s office?
--I might have hidden reserves you know nothing about. Secret disciplines.
--Hidden reserves, maybe, honey, not patience. I expected you to look frazzled. No, I expected someone in uniform to come to the house.
--Actually, I was impressed with things there. It didn’t start well, though. Not at all.
--Before getting in the service line, you first had to stand in a different line just to get a number.
--No, you aren’t good in lines. But none of it had to happen. You just lost the mail-in application form. You have to develop a system, honey. You lose things.
--Nothing is ever actually lost or destroyed, it’s physics. And I have a system. I have a triage system that utilizes the latest pile technology.
--Yes, and in your system, a throw pillow covering a pile of mail on a couch means you end up going to the Secretary of State’s office.
--Drink your wine. Really, this time I was the picture of patience. I was ready. So, I’m in line, behind a huge man dragging his leg, lurching forward. I looked around. It was like an epidemic. Like the quiet following the climax in a disaster movie. All these dazed, walking wounded. People with heavy foot-surgery boots, people using walkers and canes. Ancient fathers and mothers being led about by their middle-aged children. One guy must’ve said ‘What?’ a dozen times. Plus people who couldn’t speak the language. They bring someone with them, to interpret. Three Asian kids were there, none of them over eighteen. Two to interpret for the applicant. I wonder if these same two interpreters will ride with the new driver, to read him the street signs. It’s not right. I’m all for pluralism, I’m all for “bring us your tired, your poor,” etcetera. But you shouldn’t be issued a license to drive a car if you can’t read.
--I remember your telling me the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids just that sort of thing in universities. You said it’s illegal to reject dyslexic applicants just because they can’t read.
--Just because they can’t read or write.
--But go ahead, that’s for another day. You said you were impressed.
--I was. I’m in line, getting ready, talking to myself, calming myself as the line chugs along. Ahead, I see the employees behind the counter. Their feet were concealed, but I’m sure they all had foot-surgery shoes. Three of them in a row. Combined, they easily weighed eight hundred pounds on the hoof.
--It’s all the sitting.
--If you say so. But they were tending to business, so I was heartened. When it came my turn, my person told me I could do the whole registration thing at a machine. They use scanners now, just the way they’re used at airports to issue boarding passes. Put the old registration under the scanner, out pops the new one. It was slick.
--Here’s to the scanner.
--To Terri Lyn Land, Secretary of State. A forward-looking person in command of cutting-edge technology.
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