Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Down at the DOL

Driving across town yesterday it suddenly occured to me that I'd forgotten to renew my driver's license.  I'd been putting it off until the last possible moment anyway, because it's such a pain to go to the Department of Licensing here.  Most of my renewal birthdays, I've been in the small town where I grew up, and let me tell you, renewing a driver's license in the middle of the summer in Pullman is about a five minute proposition.  Here--well, let's just say I cleared my day for it today.

Seriously, I got out there, with a book, a bagel and an iced latte, ready to find a chair and hunker down.  Picked my number and discovered to my great dismay that my number was about 55 away from the number on the board.  And that was merely the number in my queue.  There were 3 sets of numbers going, in no apparent order.  And--there was no place to sit in that chaotic mass of humanity.  It was like Ellis Island, right there at the DOL.  So I pulled up a piece of the wall, sat right on the floor and opened my book. I'm not new to the game of waiting at the DOL.  We have three children who have had to take tests, both written and driving, and with there being only 3 1/2 years from the first birth to the last, for a while there, it was like we had season tickets to the place.  J and I honestly sat there one whole entire school day--I'd actually taken him out of school for the morning, thinking we could run down and be early in line.  Instead, we were just lucky enough to watch every employee go on both lunch and coffee breaks through-out the day.

Today, when those breaks started, I overheard a man next to me tell his friend, "You know how fast those checkers are at Costco, and how when one takes a break, another steps into his place?  These people need to learn from them."  The friend said, "That's what we need, a whole bunch of Costco checkers to come show these people how to work."  I found it highly amusing because J is a checker at Costco, and he could tell you that one of Costco's chief goals is that every worker work with 'urgency.'  The DOL could learn a thing or two.  This room is their pile of peanuts, as the Beve would say.  That is, they seem to take great joy in holding all of us hostage.  Like there's nothing more important than the tiny job they do...

But the fun thing about a trip to the DOL, besides the hideous picture at the end (At the last minute the man told me to take off my glasses, and when I did, I unconsciously widened my eyes at the flash, so I will now have the pleasure of looking like I'm strung out on drugs for the next five years--unless I manage to lose the license, which might not be a bad idea.  SK and Vera couldn't contain their laughter, thank you for the support.), is that I got to see such a cross-section of people.  The DOL is a great equalizer, you know.  It doesn't matter if one is rich, poor, old or young, we all have to pass through those doors and wait our turn.  The Amish-looking woman and her two long-skirted daughters, their hair in braided cornets around their skull,; the husky woman pushing a walker with her skinny husband trailing her--Jack Sprat and his wife?;  the eager teenagers clutching their study guides, the pregnant women--there were at least a dozen while I was there; all the rainbow-hued people of the world meet at the DOL.  It's really fascinating.  Is that really skinny mother of two anorexic? I wonder.  Should that ancient man be allowed to simply read the letters on the eye exam then get behind the wheel of a car--and which car is that--I think I'll avoid it!?  It's an amazing place, and I want to know every story, I really do.

I live in a fairly homogeneous world most of the time.  That is, most of my friends are like me--we're educated, in the same general socio-economic class, we're of the same age, and honestly, we're mostly of northern European descent.  And the churches I've gone to (except when I lived overseas, of course), have, in the majority, been shaped like me.  But there's something about the diversity of the DOL that makes me think of what the true Church of Jesus Christ looks like.  What we have in common--we who are the living church--is that we're about one thing, just like at the DOL.  Just ONE thing.  And that one thing is more important than any of our differences.  Jesus Christ.  The man Jesus didn't look like me, act like me, wasn't educated like me, nor have as much money as I do.  Have you ever really thought of that?  Nothing in His appearance that would attract me to Him.  And yet, I am attracted to Him, because everything He isn't that I am don't add up to a thing, and only what He is, Who He is that matters.  For all of us.

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