Sometimes the randomness of the universe works in my favor, and if I decide to pounce on the opportunity, I can make more things happen in my favor. Take today, for instance. My dentist's assistant called me yesterday to tell me that they needed to reschedule this morning's appointment, which left me with a good deal of "found time". My car was due for an emissions inspection, and my driver's license was set to expire next month, so I decided to use the morning to take care of those two things. And maybe some of the afternoon -- you hear all these horror stories about people waiting in line for hours.
Today is Thursday, a nondescript kind of middle-of-the-week-ish day in the next-to-the-last week of the month. All the government offices closed down on Tuesday because of a snowstorm, but that was two days ago, so maybe any backlog would be at least partly cleared. It was bitterly cold out today, so maybe less hardy souls would not be venturing out. Besides, it wasn't going to get any warmer before the deadline for my car inspection, so today was as good as any.
My friend Lauren had told me to go in the middle of the morning to avoid all the people taking care of their inspections before they headed off to work and all the people taking care of this on their lunch breaks. I headed out from home about 9:45. My side street was covered with a thin layer of hard-packed snow, left behind by the snow plow. Once I got to the main street, though, it was clear sailing. I made it to the emissions inspection station just after 10:00. There were no lines, but each of the inspection bays had a car in it -- except one. In I went. My car passed the test, I paid my fee, and off I went. It was now about 10:15. Unheard of! I've never gotten in and out that fast.
I drove a few yards down the street and turned into the next driveway -- the Motor Vehicles office. The parking lot was filled with parked cars and cars cruising around looking for a parking spot. I chose a row with no cruising or waiting cars, and headed toward the far end. An open space beckoned to me. Handicapped only? No. Reserved for staff? No. In fact, no signs or special markings at all, just an ordinary empty parking space. In the front row. Just a few yards from the door.
I went inside, got a ticket with a number on it, and found an empty seat in the waiting area. Near the front. With a good view of the "now serving" screen. I pulled a magazine out of my bag and began to read. A woman's voice announced over the PA system that the credit card system was down -- all payments must be by cash or check. I peeked into my wallet -- yes! I had visited the ATM not too long ago, and I had enough cash to pay my fee. A little after 11:00, my number was called, and I went to the service desk. Passed my vision check, verified my information, had my photo taken. The first printout of my new license had a scratch on it from the printer, so the woman behind the desk had to print a new one.
While she was doing that, another announcement came over the PA system: all staff members using the driver's license system had to log off immediately. Oh no! But just after the announcement, my new license popped out of the printer and it was un-scratched. The woman behind the desk was none too pleased about having to log off and wait for an indefinite time, since it meant that everyone after me was going to be frustrated and impatient. "It's my lunch break anyway. I think I'm going to take off," she said.
New license in hand, I got back into my car and headed home, arriving less than two hours after I had left, with my new emissions certificate AND my new driver's license. The only downside is that my license photo shows a much less perky, unlined face than I had 10 years ago (the last time I was required to have a new photo). But it's the face I have now, and I'm good with that.