Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A word about Doris...

It took numerous trips to the drivers license testing center, but
finally this morning, my daughter took the drivers test and
passed. We'd been to the exam site two or three times.
Each time they were either closed or finished with testing for
the day. It was maddening, as only bureaucracy can be. Doris
was there again, this time disguised as a drivers examiner.

I have to explain about Doris. She's haunted my footsteps for
years. The first time I met her, she was an elderly black woman
working for Sears. I'd ordered something that had to be picked
up at the store, and Doris was doing her best to ignore the
growing line of customers at her window. She had an important
conversation on the phone that involved some complex social
functions with family and friends. Her customers were an

In her next incarnation, Doris was a pudgy white guy with a bad
comb-over. I was laid off from my job, and had to apply for
unemployment. Doris did his best to make the experience as
unpleasant as possible. I'd ridden my bicycle to the office in
order to save the gas money, and in his view that was
unacceptable. "You could be sent out for a job interview at any
time", he/she said, "and you have to be ready!" No one in living
memory had ever gotten a job through the unemployment office, so
the statement was wildly funny. I laughed. Doris was not

Years later, I met Doris again. She'd reincarnated as a young
female working in another unemployment office. She had to
'interview' me before I could get benefits, and I made the
mistake of sitting down at her desk while she finished up that
phone call about the important social engagement. I'd been
standing and waiting for about 15 minutes. My leg hurt and I was
tired. As punishment, she handed me reams of paperwork to
complete. I scrawled illegible entries and handed it back a few
minutes later. She never looked at it, just filed it away.

So Doris-the-drivers-examiner had cleverly fooled me the on those
trips to the exam center. Once, she demanded documents that I
didn't have. I had to get copies and return, only to find that
it was a holiday weekend and they were closed that Friday. "No
problem", I thought, "we'll go back on Monday." But they were
closed Monday too! We returned later in the week, only to find
that they took just thirty examinees each morning, and we were
too late.

But this time, I was ready. I had the right documents. Lyndsay
was nervous, but clearly prepared to pass. We arrived before
sun-up and waited in line with other kids and parents. Doris and
Lyndsay left for the test in my car. I paced nervously. When
they returned, Lyndsay stayed in the car and Doris came in to
tell me she'd passed! I was so excited I shook her hand, pumping
it up and down with enthusiasm. I touched her shoulder and
thanked her profusely just before we parted, and she never noticed the
Post-It note on her back.

It said, "Kick Me!"


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