This story is in response to a DMV Writer’s Prompt from Warrior Writers
“Bebe daydreams in class and is disorganized,” my sixth grade teacher wrote on my report card.
That was decades ago, and although I still daydream and I’m still disorganized, I get things done.
My husband, on the other hand, is so organized that he has a folder on everything, including me.
That’s why he answered YES with such certainty when I said “Do you have all the papers we need for the DMV?” We had bought a house in South Carolina and were headed up from Georgia to get our drivers licenses.
“It’s all in the green folder. I have everything you need.” He pointed to a folder that was kelly green, as opposed to the blue folder for mortgages, the yellow folder for air conditioner repairmen, the white folder for Life’s Goals and the brown folder for restaurants.
“Do you have my W2 form? According to the internet, I need my W2.” I sat with my laptop open to site that said “Applying for a Drivers License in South Carolina. Everything You Need to Know.”
“I’ve got your passport, your Georgia driver’s license, your birth certificate, two house bills with the new address and proof of social security. I’ve got it all,” he replied more authoritatively than before.
Armed with the green folder, we drove two hours to the South Carolina DMV, where a line snaked across the lobby past the bathrooms all the way to the front door. As we took our place in line and inched forward, a girl with pink hair and a nose ring, an exasperated mother of two hyper toddlers and a chunky man in a backwards baseball cap got their drivers licenses.
The room was crammed full of people who appeared a little less apprehensive each time another applicant successfully completed the formidable gantlet of requirements.
My husband looked more efficient than anybody in the room. Whereas I had shrugged into a a “Life is Good” T shirt and cutoffs, he was immaculately turned out. His shirt was pressed, slacks creased, shoes shined, and hair trimmed with military precision. I like when his hair grows out a little because it curls rebelliously around his collar, but he hates the curls and keeps them lopped off.
We took a number, completed the paperwork and waited for dozens of people ahead of us be summoned to one of six service windows. It made me nervous when one DMV clerk, a solid woman in a lime green polyester pantsuit who had about 300 pounds on me, bellowed loudly enough for everybody in the room to hear, “You can’t get your driver’s license until you bring proof of residence!”
The narrow-faced man at her window ducked his head and scuttled off like he’d been threatened with a whipping post.
“I don’t want to get her,” I whispered to my husband.
“Just relax,” he said. “I’ve got everything you need.”
He was the one who ended up at her window. My clerk was a kindly woman who sounded genuinely sorry when, after riffling several times through everything in the green folder, said, “I’m sorry, honey, but you need your W2 form.”
The kind clerk whispered to me, but I bellowed across the room to my husband, “I CAN’T GET MY DRIVERS LICENSE BECAUSE I NEED MY W2 FORM!”
My husband’s face, a kaleidoscope of emotions flickering from confidence to bafflement to anger (at himself) and finally mortification, was the last face I saw before storming from the DMV office, papers flying like confetti from the green folder. He followed me out, collecting my papers as he went, although the woman in the lime green pantsuit called after him that he had everything he needed to get his license.
“You can go back and get your drivers license,” I hissed when he got in the car.
“I’m not getting mine if you aren’t,” he replied sheepishly.
He apologized two dozen times, but I didn’t speak to him for the first hour of the drive. My heart eventually softened enough to say, “That’s okay, forget it,” when I noticed a few errant curls beginning to straggle the nape of his neck.
But that’s not the end of the story.
The next week, I received a jury summons.
I’m happy to execute my civic duties and don’t mind spending a day or two in the courthouse that sits sedately on Main Street in downtown Walhalla, South Carolina. But this jury summons was for Atlanta, and there’s nothing that strikes dread in my heart more than the idea of leaving home at 5 in the morning to negotiate brutal Atlanta traffic.
I was electrified into a flurry of activity. Pulling on my Life is Good T shirt, I dug a W2 form from an orange folder that said W2’s and added it to the green folder. Then I drove two hours to the South Carolina DMV and emerged an hour later with a drivers license. Back in Georgia, I emailed a picture of my new license to the clerk’s office in Atlanta and received a nice and welcome acknowledgement that my name would be removed from Georgia jury rolls.
My husband got home at 5, shirt pressed, pants creased and shoes shined. I looked a little frazzled but elated.
“What did you do today?” he asked.
I held up my South Carolina drivers license and his face went through a kaleidoscope of emotions, from confidence to bafflement to amazement. Finally, after examining the license one more time, he laughed and said, “You get things done, don’t you?”