Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cracking Up at the DMV

...and I don't mean as in going crazy because of the wait time. I mean cracking up as in laughing so hard and long that your cheeks hurt.

Yesterday was a prime example of the concept "Life is What You Make It."  My fifteen-year-old daughter and I had to go the DMV to get a replacement driver's permit.  (The original was left in a jacket which was left in a security bin at the entrance to the Chunnel Train on the London side.)  We had gone down there the week before, only to find out that the wait time was more than 5 hours - which was amusing since they closed in 4 hours.  We gratefully learned that we could make an appointment and come back.

(As an aside, I believe that being able to make an appointment at the DMV is akin to discovering electricity - a brilliant solution to making the world a better, more efficient place.)

We made our appointment and returned the following week, right on time. I punched in our arrival on the welcome screen at the door, and to my amazement, we were taken immediately. We didn't even move from our spot at the entrance and our number was called.  (see above aside)

After five minutes at the counter, we were then directed over to the waiting area so my daughter could have a replacement photo taken.  As we sat down she noticed the electronic reader board on the wall and said, "Oh cool, it's that trivia game."  I looked up and remembered that the last time we were here we had wiled away our time trying to answer the extremely random and varied questions that shot across the board in-between the rules and regulations of the DMV.  (Including keeping noise to a minimum...we didn't exactly follow that one.)

So we started playing.  Question after question we kept getting the answers wrong.  Five minutes turned into ten, ten minutes became twenty, and while everyone around us got more and more annoyed, frustrated, and grumpy with the wait time, the two of us got sillier and gigglier.

Did we get strange looks? Yep.  Were people around us annoyed by our laughter and high fives when we guessed correctly? Visibly so. Did we care one bit? Nope.

You see, not only were we trying to answer these ridiculous questions, but sometimes the questions would remind us of something funny, or spark a memory of something, and we'd talk about those things, which would start us laughing, often collapsing into each other, which inevitably distracted us from the next question, and sometimes we'd only see the answer and then try to think of the question that might have preceded it, which often made us crack up even more.

In short, we were having a grand time.  So much so that after a few minutes the older gentleman sitting next to me asked, "Are you two here just for the entertainment?"

We were determined to get at least one answer right and I'm glad to report that by the end of our 50 minute wait we had 10 correct answers out of the more than probably 70+ that we saw.  At one point my daughter was getting a little weary so she put her head on my shoulder and we played that way for a while.  In that moment I took a second to recognize and appreciate the situation:

Here we were, in a drab, dingy, incredibly uninviting atmosphere, sitting on uncomfortable chairs, surrounded (and I mean packed in like sardines) by strangers who would have all preferred being just about anywhere else at that time.  The guy next to me had terrible breath, the guy next to my daughter had B.O., and there was dark cloud hanging over everyone in the place.

Except for us.  For us the sun was shining and the DMV was a glorious place to be.  Especially for me as I realized how things could have gone:

I could have been angry that she lost her permit and we had to go all the way here TWICE, only to have to wait for a really long time.

I wasn't.

I could have been annoyed and bothered that even though we had made an appointment, we still had to wait for a really long time, and I could have let her know that this was all her fault.

I didn't.

She could have had her teenaged face buried in her phone, completely ignoring me and everything else around her.

She didn't.

Instead we chose to have the most fun we could possibly have despite our circumstances, and even used our circumstances to help us have that fun.  When my husband called later in the day he asked how it went and I said, "We had the best time at the DMV!" to which he replied, "I'll bet that's the first time anyone's said THAT!"

Happiness is a choice. Yesterday could have been a wretched, boring, frustrating time that we would have looked back on with irritation and aggravation. Instead we get to look back on it as a cherished and special time shared together.

Life is, indeed, what you make it.  Even at the DMV.

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