A DVM at the DMV

December 10, 2019
Bo Brock, DVM

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.

dvm360, dvm360 January 2020, Volume 51, Issue 1

You stand in a lot of lines as a veterinarian rushing between appointments to get a driver's license renewed at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Wait for it ... wait for it ... keep waiting for it ... (TanyaJoy / stock.adobe.com)

Time is something busy veterinarians don't have enough of. This is especially true when things have to be done during business hours-like getting your driver's license renewed.

My good friend Audie told me that when he'd gone to get his license renewed he needed his birth certificate. I paid close attention to his instructions, because I knew my license was up soon, too, and I was planning to go in prepared.

It was a Monday, and my 1 p.m. appointment canceled. This was just what I'd been waiting for. My original birth certificate was tucked away nice and flat in a Ziploc bag in my pickup, and I was headed out to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The clock on my dashboard read 11:54 when I pulled out of the clinic.

At the DMV, I was met with a line with about 12 people. I got in line (No. 1) feeling proud of myself for knowing about the secret birth certificate requirement. Audie had also told me I needed my Social Security card, so I also had that.

Sure enough, the lady at the front of the line exclaimed that she'd never needed her birth certificate before. She stomped out. Eight more people eventually left with the same foul expression on their faces as I gloated over my preparedness and was silently thanking Audie for saving me from the same fate.

When my turn came, I approached with a puffed chest and a smile of satisfaction as I plopped my birth certificate and Social Security card on the counter.

“Have you filled out the form?” asked the lady behind the counter.

“What form?” I asked

“The license renewal form. It's on the east wall.”

I left the line, found the form and got to work. There were a few questions and a few boxes to check, and then I was back in line (No. 2).

I watched a few more people stomp out of the room on their quests for birth certificates, and once again I was thanking Audie noiselessly for sparing me that same fate. When my turn finally arrived, I was confident that the chore was almost over and I'd even have time to eat and get back to work with time to spare.

“This won't work,” said the woman, eyeing my birth certificate.

“Ma'am, that's the original,” I told her. “It even has my footprints on it. I'm not sure how you can get a better birth certificate than that.”

"I was aggravated at myself for even thinking that I could outsmart the system."

“That's a hospital birth certificate,” she told me. “We need the one from the courthouse downtown.”

I was aggravated at myself for even thinking that I could outsmart the system. I drove downtown and found myself in line (No. 3) behind the same people I'd been in line behind earlier. When it was my turn, I told the lady what I needed, and you know what she said? “Have you filled out the form?”

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I went over and found it, but there was no pen. I asked her for one and she handed me the one she was holding.

I filled out the form and got in line (No. 4). When my turn came, she said, “You used the wrong color ink.

“Wait, you gave me that pen.”

“I was wondering where I put that,” she said. “Sorry, you'll have to fill out the form out in black. Sorry, I wasn't thinking.”

I filled out another form and got back in line (No. 5). This time everything was correct, and she looked up at me and said, “That'll be $28.”

"All I could think was, it was going to cost me $28 to get a copy of a birth certificate I already had."

All I could think was, it was going to cost me $28 to get a copy of a birth certificate I already had. I gave her my credit card and waited. She and another lady whispered and punched keys on a computer while swiping my card over and over through a reader.

“I'm sorry, but our machine is broken,” she said. “You'll need to pay cash today.”

Back to my pickup to dig through my center console until I came up with the required money.

I got back in line (No. 6) and gave the clerk $30 cash. She thanked me and she and the other lady soon gathered at the printer and started pushing buttons and whispering.

“I'm sorry, but the printer is out of ink. We have some in the back, but it'll take a few minutes if you'd like to have a seat.”

After a trip to the office supply shop across the street to get some ink (there really was none in the back), I was told I could get in line (No. 7) and finally got my document.

Just a few more hoops to jump through, I told myself, as I got back in my truck. I'd be back in time for a little rest before my 2 p.m. arrived.

Back at the DMV, I got in line (No. 8). When my moment came, I gave the woman my documents.

“I also need two forms of identification that have your name and address on them,” she said. “You can go home and get an utility bill and bring it back here.”

I could feel my blood pressure rising as I stepped out of line for a 30-mile round trip home and figured I'd be late for my 2 p.m. appointment. As I started to walk off, I heard the guy behind me tell her he had a driver's license and a concealed handgun permit. Wait! I have one of those! She said that was great, and I should go to the end of the line (No. 9).

The clock on the dashboard of my pickup read 1:44 as I pulled back into the vet clinic parking lot. I spent the rest of the afternoon being grumpy and wondering why it takes nine trips through a line and nearly two hours to get a new picture of a 4-year-old version of me on a plastic card.

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.

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