Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Are any of these moping droop-shouldered state employees real people?
In today’s installment of fact or fiction, I will infiltrate the local DMV complex and put this myth to the test. Common knowledge holds that state employees, particularly in Chicago and the surrounding environs, are all connected people who landed their employment via family connections. That’s right, graft and corruption.
Yes, nepotism! Uncle Richie works for the Secretary Of State? Then it follows that Richie’s felon nephew and whore ex-wife inevitably got hooked up, and now work in the menial service jobs, enjoying the state’s inflated salaries and spectacular benefits. Despite this good fortune, they don’t think they should have to work AT ALL for living, and the resentment leads to them treating their citizen customers like sidewalk chewing gum. The Department Of Motor Vehicles is full of lazy disgruntled scumfucks, dirty ugly people that wield their meager authority with the grace and precision of a spastic with a sledgehammer.
That’s not the myth, that’s just accepted and tolerated fact. The myth, the urban legend, the dark secret lurking beneath, is this: these are not the inbred relatives of higher up state employees, but instead, robots. Automatons. Machines programmed to treat us with scorn and disdain.
I arrived early in the afternoon at the Schaumburg location next to the record store. My driver’s license and plate stickers have been expired for eighteen days now. Until my mission was completed, I was risking $75 tickets and being hauled out of my car and detained in jail by lock-jawed state troopers.
I walked up to the counter.
“I need to renew my license, my state ID, and get a new license plate sticker.”
“Sticker first. Take this number. Sit there.”
He pointed. At no time did any semblance of human emotion steal across his face. No gleam of humanity glimmered upon the surface of his eyes. No inflection colored his voice. Dead monotone. I forgot to check if his eyelids blinked or fluttered, but I doubt they did. Score one point for the cyborg theory.
I sat in my assigned section and waited for fifteen minutes. When my number was called, I strode to the counter and spoke.
“I need to renew my sticker.”
“License plate number?”
I gave it. My phone rang. I took the call. It was a coworker requesting information. Extensive information. I began to relay it to him. The teller scolded me.
“You tell him you’ll call him back. You’re in a state office. Understand?”
She tilted her head down so she could stare at me over the top of her bifocals. Her eyes said the rest. Allow me to speak for her eyes.
“Impertinent, disrespectful, self-important, inconsiderate, horrible little bastard. Who do you think you are? You’re in my zone now. You play by my rules or I’ll grind you into meal. Don’t fuck with me, kiddo. I chew up and spit out members of younger generations, and I’m not gonna stop now. Just give me an excuse. One excuse. I’ll make you regret being born.”
I spoke into my cell. “I’ll call you back in a sec. I’m at the DMV.”
She looked unsatisfied, sighed, then quoted me the price. “Seventy-eight.” She did not say dollars, or bucks, or dineros, or smackeroos, or cheese, or please. Just “seventy-eight.” I appreciate word economy. Result: Subtract one point from the cyborg theory. She was real. I’m pretty sure.
Next up was my driver's license renewal. A spherical woman with short hair and stubby legs encased in tight leggings straddled a chair at the busiest counter.
"Can I keep the expired licenses?"
"No, state law, we throw 'em out. Why do you want it?"
"It's the only picture of myself with long hair that I've got."
"I'll chop the picture off. Rest has to be mulched."
"Mulched. Right. Biodegradable. I'm an organ donor, by the way. I heard on the radio that I need to re-register for that. Exclude the liver, though. That would be cruel."
"All or nothing, sweetie."
"That's fine then. I pity the poor sap who tries to function with my soaked liver transplanted into his fragile gut cavity. Pancreas is pretty good, though."
"You're funny." She wasn't laughing. "Step over to the cashier, please."
Score one for the humans. Current tally: 2 for humans, 1 for robots.
The cash counter was helmed by a spindly crone with a twitch. A bug in her software?
"That'll be thirty dollars."
I heard gears grinding. Was it just natural human creakiness, a byproduct of arid menopause, or something mechanical, an ungreased clockwork on its shuddering march to an inevitable halt? Were robots cheaper to replace than repair? Was she an ancient prototype, and her overlords were extracting every last jerk of productivity from her rickety frame? I heard a click. Something was failing. Definitely a robot.
I went over to the photo check-in. It was time to have new pictures taken, photos I'd be stuck with for another four years. I had not shaved or had a recent haircut. I was bedraggled. Perfect.
Imagine a very fat man sitting at a counter in front of a computer terminal. Imagine the lip of the counter presses into his stomach horizontally right across the belly button, causing his lardy gut to squeeze out both above and below the counter. He was locked to it, Tetris tight. That was him. His face was pitted and cruel. His elbows rested upon the gut portion spilling out atop the counter. His fat stubby fingers frequently pressed several letters at once, requiring him to backspace and retype with his pinky, which was still almost too big to press a single key. I could hear grease bubbles popping as he spoke, reddish orange burrito grease simmering in his esophagus.
"Where's the rest of the old card? I can't give you a new license without the rest of the old one."
I reluctantly withdrew the long hair piece of license that the spherical woman had clipped for me. I handed it over to him.
"Who did this? One of the ladies over there? It's against state law. Which one?"
I dropped eye contact and stared at his gut, which shook like jello when he spoke. I remained silent. I would not sell out the few remaining humans to a cyborg fat fuck like this guy.
"Go siddown and wait for your name to be called." I heard the sound of air hissing from a tiny hole in a tire, then I smelled milk fart. His robot pudding body had farted quietly, threatening carbon monoxide detectors throughout the facility. I backed away slowly and sat in the waiting area. Despite the biological evidence, I decided Billy Buttcake was a robot, too.
Among those I dealt with, I believe 3 to be born of factories and two born from vaginas.
We are in danger. If this experiment works to the state's satisfaction, policemen will be next. 1:29 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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