When it comes to waiting room tactics, I’m a pro

March 17, 2014

I am a waiting room survivor. At my age, I’ve spent so much time in waiting rooms, I’ve often found the seasons have actually changed from the time I arrived until the time I left the office.

So, when I realized it was time to have my motor vehicle license renewed, I was fighting ready. Been there, done that, as they say. I packed a bag with two different kinds of water, sparkling and flat; charged my Kindle so I would have something to read; stuck in my medicine bottles, even the ones I take later in the day, and of course, packed enough snacks for a week. I find you always have to consume a lot of protein in waiting rooms, along with desserts as a kind of reminder or reward.

Oh, I’ve been fooled before. I’ve been in waiting lines too. The kind where there is only one person ahead of you. Naturally that person has more problems than a one-armed paper hanger.

Whatever the reason, it will precipitate hundreds of phone calls, supervisors summoned and a federal negotiator. All of this going on while you watch the line you originally were in, but then made a quick change, is now down to nothing. It moved faster than Batman leaving the bat cave. You should always be suspicious of a line that has just one or two people in front of you.

Well, off I went to the DMV. Now you have to have a lot of documents for your renewal today. At least that’s what I heard. So I brought with me almost a genetic book of papers, including yellowed parchment paper birth certificates, a wrinkled marriage license with just a hint of tomato sauce on the edges, a recent passport with a photo me looking like Patty Hearst or Tanya during a bank holdup, bills addressed to me and two different letters thanking me for my donation to each political party.

I like to cover all bases. I actually could have crossed into another country or time zone with all this paperwork and been waved right through the crossing gates.

Now I arrive at the DMV and of course there is plenty of parking, which I know is a ruse to lull me into thinking this is not going to take long. Once inside, I am given a number by a very pleasant young lady. Another ploy. But like I said, I am a survivor of these games and take it in stride.

Now I have to find a seat, and a good rule of thumb here is to find the end chair, because I am going to want to spread out, and the likelihood of someone sitting next to me usually is more in the middle.

That is where the talkers are, too. You know, people who want to tell you their wife just left them and they are suffering from loneliness, so they just hang out in waiting rooms so they can hear their name called. It isn’t that I’m not empathetic to those who have problems, but as a waiting room survivor, I can tell you it’s best to stay the course alone.

You know, be focused on the task at hand. By the way, it’s a good idea to also bring plenty of Kleenex.

Right away I spot three empty seats at the end of a row. Perfect! I put one of my bags with the snacks on one seat. On the other seat, I put the carry-on with all my paperwork, then I will be free to sit in the middle.

I take out my Kindle and find the book I am reading and the place where this woman has fallen for this waiter on a cruise ship and he is ripping her blouse off and they are in the throes of passion…well, you know. And my number is called. What now? I’ve only been here two minutes. What kind of governmental place is this anyway? All I can say is the DMV is onto you; it’s in and out in a pleasant five minutes. I don’t think it’s fair, and it could be unconstitutional.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.