When It Feels Good To Be A Customer.

Sometimes the details are just too minute.

Reviewing my new business cards this afternoon while grasping for every bit of light to aid my aging retinas in making sense of the tiny type, I noticed peeking out from under a pile of “I'll get to it later” paperwork a DMV notice that I'd neglected since returning from Mexico in mid-November: my driver's license renewal.

It was 4 pm. “I've got to get to DMV before they close,” I anxiously explained to Jim, my good friend and print rep legend, while trying to usher both of us out the door.

“You'll never make it,” he assured me while explaining his experience at DMV just a few weeks prior that was likely a two to three hour experience had it not been for his AAA membership. “The line was wrapped around the building. They'll just tell you the office will close and to come back tomorrow.”

Problem was, my license expires on Friday, December 12, 2003. And I'll be far from California's finest public sector workers in the safe haven of the big Apple. I approached the task with a bit more positive attitude than Jim's nay saying and don't bother approach. If I let my license expire there would be more baggage to deal with. Things like penalties, probably the need to take a written exam and who knows what else. As my notice stood, I'd have to get my vision checked, take a new photo and answer three simple questions.

When I got to the DMV office there was a line of about 5 people waiting at the information counter. The young hispanic gentlemen with a chin-cleft piecing and Drew Carey glasses was talking on the phone. I glanced at the clock: 4:15. His wide brown eyes scanned the line as he talked into the phone. “There are five customers.” Customers. I smiled and laughed inside. Nice. Trained well. Citizens of the great state of California. A state where we have a funny speaking, ex-body builder, bad Hollywood actor and breast-groping governor. We ARE customers. “One of them just needs a driver's license renewal.” His eyes locked onto mine as I glanced at the paper I held in my hand. Trained and observant.

He hung up the phone and left the info booth while me and the four other customers shrugged and with our eyes communicated a slight sense of wonder and frustration. Less than a minute later a plump brunette with big teeth, freckles, bad acne and wearing reindeer antlers in her hair promptly issued all five of us numbers and asked us to wait.

Before I could finish a single article in the newspaper strewn across the chairs my number was called. Damn that was fast. And within 10 minutes my vision passed, I answered my three questions and the large woman with Tammy Fay make up and a posture and body not unlike jabba the hut folded and sagged over the tiny task chair processed my renewal with efficiency and ease. The balding man with horn-rimmed coke bottle glasses had my photo and thumb print captured with equal ease.

At 4:39 I was in my car leaving the parking lot.

Lucky? Maybe. Good timing. Surely. Bottom line? One happy DMV customer with a fresh, spanken new driver's license. No more bad DMV jokes from me. Incredible.

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