I live in a small town. I do the thing where I try to support local business. But I avoid our license renewal facility at all costs. Now that I can, I do it all online. But then, they mailed me that funky temporary sticker and I had to go in.
So I go in and for a couple of decades…three, I take the number from the old hanging numbers thingy and sit myself down to wait and grow old. It’s three workers, one customer at the counter, one in the seats besides me.
Two workers–youngish, and youngish and intimidated, are without customers but shuffling around behind the counter looking pensive so I think…okay. It’s a sitcom I live in. So chill.
Now ‘youngish and intimidated’ finishes shuffling paper and she looks up and calls out the next number. But guess what? Guy in the chairs who was there before me didn’t take a number like me, the smart winner that I am. But it’s all good. I tell him, “You were here first. Go on.”
He’s very grateful and I think I sent a good message to the whole place. We CAN all get along!
So dude goes up and youngish and you-know-the-rest is helping him out.
Now dude two comes in and he doesn’t take a number, but he stands at the end of the counter. And big hair, which is the third worker, the older one, she finishes with her dude and she says, “Next!” And I stand up, number in hand, and she turns to new dude who stands at the counter and says, “Can I help you?”
I say, “I was here next. I’ve got a number!” I say it kind of firm, I admit.
“He’s in line,” big bit…hair says to me pointing at this big sign over dude that says four or forty things, one of which is ‘form a line.’
I have never read that…sign, but I’ve always taken a freak…in…number. Now here’s where that amazing I. Q. kicks in. I say, “Your co-worker just called out a number and you say I have to be in line, now I’m confused.” I sound like Jack Nicholson, I think. No, I do!
And she makes no eye-contact. She grins and keeps looking down. “You stand in line here,” she says.
Oh, cry for your mama.
Dude at the counter says to me, “You go on now. You were here first.” He’s got his hands out like I’m that crazy junk yard dog.
So I step up there, my eyes watering from the heat coming off my face. I’m doing my Lamaze breathing and if you don’t know what that is you’re too young to be reading this. I was a furious beast.
“They sent me the wrong sticker,” I say. I don’t sound like Jack anymore. Jack’s mom, maybe.
She says, “Oh, you’re going to get a new license plate!” Like goodie, goodie. “Let me show you those pretty new plates,” she says.
I mumble, “No. No.” But she’s got the co-workers looking for the plates now and I’m saying, “I don’t want to see…to see..,” and finally I get my act together and I say, “I don’t want to see them!”
And hair ignores me and finds one of those plates carrying on like she won the Illinois Powerball. She shoves it under my nose and I jump like it’s an arm she just dug up out of the garden.
The other day I heard the state of Illinois is recalling those plates. Nobody likes them. In some sick way…it made me smile.