Before I get started, I’d like to state that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the staff at the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission. What they deal with on a daily basis is enough to drive anyone nuts. So…having said that, let me tell you a story about my recent visit to the NJ MVC.
Donnie, my youngest son, had to get his license renewed. I went with him to the MVC. Mistake Number One. We got there and of course it was packed. Packed. Donnie was given the number 187 and told to take a seat, that his number would be called over the loudspeaker. We sat there, him playing a game on his phone and me trying to stay awake. I leaned over and asked him what number he thought they were on. He replied, “188. It goes up to a thousand.” So we chuckled, and then he went back to his game and I went back to dozing off.
Everyone around us was either on a cell phone or playing on a cell phone. One woman and her son were arguing. Another guy was slumped in a chair, snoring. A little boy was rolling around on the floor, trying to get his mother’s attention while she was on her phone.
Donnie, tired of his game, said to me, “My luck, I’m gonna get up to the window and the woman is gonna say to me, ‘Number 187, have you completed your 95 push-ups and 13 back flips?’” referring to the well-known and lamented fact that anything our family tries to do is NEVER easy, always complicated and always time-consuming.
We laughed. People stared at us. I said, “Or she’ll say, ‘Number 187, have you memorized your skit?’” Laughed, a little louder this time. More staring.
Donnie said, “No. It’ll be ‘Number 187, are you ready for your pommel horse routine? Ah, you don’t do the pommel horse? Well, sir, then it’s the uneven bars for you.’” Our laughter took on a louder, more hysterical edge to it. People stopped what they were doing to stare at us.
I said, “Number 187, please recite the Gettysburg Address while pirouetting in place.”
By this time, we were rocking back and forth in our chairs, snorting and crying with laughter. The employees were beginning to stare.
Donnie said, “Number 187, please find 43 people, work out a dance routine, and perform it. Oh, you only have 42 people? That won’t do, sir. Take a seat.” By now, we were holding our stomachs and our laughter was echoing in the room. The security guard began to inch towards us.
I said, “Number 187, please perform the Star-Spangled Banner in the PeeWee Herman style of song.” Laughter, tears and snorting. A lot of staring.
Donnie said, “Number 187, please present your essay titled ‘Why I Love the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission,’ using no less than five different voices to tell your story. Gestures will be awarded extra points.” We were way past hysteria now. We were almost screaming with laughter. I was stamping my feet and smacking my legs while rocking back and forth. The security guard took his walkie-talkie out. Even the little boy stopped rolling around on the floor and stared at us.
Finally, number 187 was called. Donnie wiped his face, took a deep breath, and went to the window. I stayed behind, sniffling and randomly bursting out in laughter. By now, people were switching their seats to get away from me.
As luck would have it, the woman in front of Donnie had four pictures taken before she was happy with her license photo. Donnie said that he felt like he was in a photo shoot for Glamour Magazine.
As we finally left (and everyone in the place breathed a sigh of relief, most likely) I asked to see Donnie’s photo on his license. Hilarious. He looked as if he was in pain, gritting his teeth and squinting.
So the moral of the story is: It is possible to find humor in just about anything. Or perhaps the moral of the story is, feeble-minded people like me and Donnie are easily amused. You be the judge.
Ilene Black is a Ewing resident and columnist for the Ewing Observer.