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July 6, 2009

Say Cheese!

On the way home from my recent work trip to Austin, I lost my drivers license in the airport.

Evidently, I somehow dropped it in between the ‘don't even think of joking around with me’ TSA guy, and a lady from South Carolina sitting next to me on the plane who, bless her heart, has 3 kids in Iraq including a daughter but wanted to be sure I was saved on the 28 minute flight from Austin to Houston.

I'm saved, we’re good, I let her know before we even left the ground.

She spent the next 26 minutes just making sure.

Maybe God was trying to send me a message. I’ve had the same drivers license since I was 29, and a month before I turn 40, I lose it and need to get a new photo taken.

Never ignore ladies who try to save you on a plane. Karma is a bad thing.

I stood at the DPS office this morning waiting to replace the lost driver’s license, and I began to pray for a Rapture of some kind to occur; it would have been much more exciting and it would have gotten me out of that dreaded government office.

I am so fortunate, I thought, to be able to ‘pop’ into the DPS office on the way to work.

Clearly, I hadn’t had enough caffeine when I thought there was any chance of ‘popping’ in and out of that place.

The lady who guarded the front door was a cross between a Marine drill sergeant and Betty White. She looked so sweet, but she could bark out orders like Rambo.

It quickly became clear to me who wielded the power in that building.

Not the State Troopers, who, I swear, looked as friendly as the TSA agents back at the airport.

Nope, this lady had the power to make things happen. Or not.

My turn finally arrived to approach her counter and receive my instructions on where she would allow me to sit, stand and breathe while I waited for my photo op.

I plopped down my birth certificate, only to be stopped by a woman (English clearly not being her primary language) who came up to the counter from behind to ask Betty a question.

Huge mistake. I simultaneously ducked and waited for the laser beam to strike the poor woman down.

Rambo Betty answered her question, turned around to me, and said, “if they come over here they should learn the language how can I help you (lovely smile)” without missing a beat.

I bit my tongue, appalled but fearful, and she handed me a number.

A few minutes later, she barked out the number, my cue to actually get in line.

The man in line behind me was breathing loudly.

And heavily.

And right down my neck.

I couldn’t tell if it was Darth Vader or someone with a seeing-Bulldog, or both.

I was too scared to turn and look, should Rambo Betty notice any quick movement on my part.

He breathed, heavily, and I prayed, quietly, the working mom’s prayer:

‘God, I have a job to do today, get me out of here quick, please.’
(the prayer most working moms use for pediatrician visits, traffic tickets, and DPS offices where you’re trapped between an adult Pug and a female Chuck Norris.)

About then, I really started praying for that Rapture.

The DPS office is not big.

One man sneezed three times in a row, at least, I stopped counting.

I’m no germophobe but between the heavy breathing on my neck and the sneezing to my right, I started to think I would take my chances and go without a license.

I finally made it up to the treasured spot in a Drivers License Office:

The yellow line where you are next to be called.
So close, yet so far away.

At that exact moment my feet hit the line, all the workers promptly stood up and went on break.

It was as if some magic sign had flashed that only they could see, that read: “the lady who needs to get back to work and has Darth Bulldog behind her is next. Time for coffee ladies!”

I stood there for another 15 minutes while Darth fogged up the back of my neck.

I inched away politely to save myself.

He inched with me.

If we keep inching up, I thought, we are both gonna cross that yellow line too soon, and Rambo Betty is going to zap both of us, (or at least me for sure since I am in front of you,) with her Mac Daddy laser beam she surely keeps under that desk for people who misbehave, or cross the yellow line ahead of their time.

Come on Rapture, I thought, please save me. I’m good to go.

Finally, one of the coffee break ladies re-appeared.

I was granted permission to cross the yellow line, and within 3 minutes she had my thumbprints and asked me stand in front of the purple curtain to take my photo.

Since of course I know that the DPS office uses a purple curtain as a backdrop, I was wearing a purple shirt. Nothing like having a Drivers License photo where all you can see is your eyes, nose and mouth.

There was no “Say Cheese!” warning either that the photo was coming.

As soon as my feet hit the mark, she clicked the camera.

My new 40 year old Drivers License will be a photo of me with a soggy neck and eyes bloodshot from lack of caffeine and the fear that Ms. Rambo had spent the past hour instilling in me.

But at least I will blend in perfectly with the backdrop.

May the Force be with you.

And God bless Rambo Betty. Man, I sure hope she's saved.
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