Posts Tagged ‘fail’

I went to the Virginia DMV last week. I know to expect a long wait. No big deal, regular annoyance. But I heard the woman inputting my application data say a day and a month that were one digit off from my birthday.

I called her out on it. She looked at me like I’m somehow hearing things, says “No, I didn’t say that.”

“Well, see, if you were entering my birthday, then you’d be one-off. I want to make sure it’s right because I’ve had mistakes happen before.” I tell her this and I tell her my correct birthday.

She repeats that she didn’t say that.

Well, even if Ms. Herndon didn’t SAY it (which she did), she certainly typed it. There it was printed out on my voter registration and everything else. I tell someone. They say they will fix it. It takes some ten minutes. Fine.

Then they stick my file in at the end of the line. WHYYYY? How does it make sense to screw me over more because … you have already screwed me over? How much brainpower does it take to have that register and not simply auto-file?

I get a license, finally. I acknowledge the camera operator’s joke about me being ready to get out of there. I deny it any success at injecting any amount of levity into the situation. I fill out the corrected voter registration form. I flip to the second page and it is still WRONG. I show the camera operator. She says she will take care of it and I can just submit the correct one. I do so.

Today, in the mail, I find a voter registration application. As if I hadn’t submitted one. And, yes, it has the wrong birthdate.


I don’t have any complaints about the employee manner or anything. Just some notes on competence.

1) Herndon did not check the facts and dismissed me out of hand. This same thing happened at the DPS in Texas only the gentleman looked, confirmed the error, and fixed it there. Point, DPS.

2) They compounded the issue by creating extra inconvenience when it was well-within their power not to. A forty-minute wait turned into a two-hour ordeal.

3) They claimed to have fixed a problem that they clearly have not fixed.


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When I was five, my mother’s father fell ill. I can’t remember what it was. I don’t know what he died of, if it was directly following this hospitalization or if it was on the tail of a subsequent. I don’t know. I remember only that we flew to Taiwan, that my mother carried me, my arms around her neck, my legs sitting on her hips, and my head over her shoulder, alternately looking over her back or hiding in her neck.

We enter the room where my grandfather lies, not seeming weak to me, as brown and smiling and lustrous-haired as I remembered, laughing, calling my name and reaching out in greeting, though he is lying down. My mother spins around so that I am facing him.

My main feeling however was fear – why was ah-Gong so overriden by machines? tubes everywhere, even coming out of his face. I couldn’t look. I knew I should and that it was a cowardly and a shameful thing to not look back, to not smile and say only ‘hello’ to the man who, with my grandmother, had watched over me during my babyhood and toddler years while my parents worked and bought a home for me to come back to. This man whom, at that point, I remembered, whom I now no longer have any memories of save this one. Damn you, infant(ile) amnesia.* I thought all this and still turned away from him and hid my face in my mother’s neck and she spun a number of times, my neck swiveling always in counterpart to hide my face and not look at the tube-monster that either was or had attached itself to my ah-Gong. The adults all laughed, commenting how cute I was, thinking nothing of it. As soon as my mother stepped out of the room, the shame hit me full-on and I felt regret.

I have since forgiven my five-year-old self for her cowardice and have hoped to use it as a lesson in future bravery, a helfpul resolve in the absolution of my kindergarten cowardice. I had need of it some two years ago and did not make proper use. But that’s another story, or another part of the story I’ve mentioned here, many times.


*There is a possible memory from that period  – of walking away from my grandfather with my grandmother, down the hall in their home, at my grandmother’s beckoning, that there was a gift. She opens the cloest to me and in a giant clear plastic bag wrapper is this stuffed animal my ah-Gong had bought me, now christened Fluffy. Round and huge, orange plastic bulb nose and big fuffy pink hair. I still have him and love him and he is still too large, stubby-limbed, and round to be believable as a stuffed dog. This is perhaps a false memory, but Fluffy is real enough.

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Yes, we were all nerdy. Okay. Nerdy kids are genuine, now we can just throw it around and signal ‘kindred! here! me! you! talkings talkings!’. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I was nerdy. I don’t know about genuine – I find that I still work hard at attempts to be genuine. I was plastic-framed glasses, Star Trek:TNG novelizations, being socialized just enough so the other kids would talk to me to make fun nerdy. So nerdy that that mutual silence crops up between me and folks who knew me back then and maintains itself while we reminisce very selectively, avoiding any details about former-me. And I am thankful for it.

To escape the reality of life as former-me, I read massive amounts of books which just set the stage for thicker plastic-framed glasses. It was novel after novel, story after story of lives that were at least not mine – that’s all it took. And the spinning racks and the Cynthia Voigt shelf got me through that time and the first stretch of middle school. Surfing through adolescence on narrative.

I am likely single-reader-ly responsible for the water bottle ban in the fourth/fifth grade time frame. I was a bath reader. No longer, but back then, I had to have a book in hand every possible moment to get through the day. I even recorded my own books-on-tape and put the player under my pillow so I could fall asleep. I remember the gathering in the library and the announcement and the librarians laying out their suspicions. The conclusion had been reached that out water bottles were leaking onto the books in our backpacks. So no more water for us! Hydration hadn’t gotten big yet.

I’m pretty sure it was that I read and read and I read including in the bath. Splashy splashy.

I was freaked out they were going to say it was bath-reading, that it was me. How hard would it be, once you noticed the trend, to see where all those books had been? Not very, I’d think. But it seems the librarians didn’t think to do that. Or care to. Then, I was kind of shocked at how poorly they were dealing with this situation. And then I decided, I didn’t have a terrible desire to figure out how much respect I had for them before/after and would simply be glad it didn’t come back to me.

Dear Elementary School Class of [mumbleyearhere], I am sorry. I hope you are hydrating now.

*I am going to repurchase my whole YA book collection one day, starting with Maniac Magee. Also, I recommend checking out this thread of posts.

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Driving in Baltimore, I have seen some pretty jackassy driving maneuvers, but also a lot of normal and even considerate driving behaviors. It makes me happy to get a courtesy wave from someone and it does a world of good to personalize the driver of the other car and dampen the rising road rage.

So, if you cut someone off, fine, people make mistakes, say you’re sorry. I get cut off and am not expecting much, swearing and debating if I care how obvious my word choice is to even a non-lipreader. Then, the driver extends his/her arm out the window and waves.

I am stunned and feeling a bit o’ the mollification sweeping over me, reflexively. And then the cigarette butt that the driver had launched from his/her ‘waving’ hand hits my windshield.

Keep the hope alive, people.

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