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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Weighty matters during wait at the DMV

March 02. 2014 7:24PM

Notes while sitting at the DMV Manchester office, waiting with most of the rest of humanity for my number to come up.

Which was my first question. Who is out there contributing to the gross domestic product? Everyone seems to be in here.

Not my fault, of course, but a confluence of factors had me waiting until nearly the end of the month to renew my license.

Never go to the DMV at the end, or the beginning of a month. Also, never go around noon.

The people who work at the DMV are very nice. They must have had their heads examined as part of the job training. Dealing, over and over, with the same bunch of people who are all in a hurry and who all have the same questions, is a sure path to sainthood.

"Why so nice?" I ask one of the women at the counter.

"What? Why not? I should hit you with a pen, perhaps?"

The pens at the DMV, by the way, could qualify as weapons.

The lady who takes my license photo (and politely notes that I was late in renewing) laughs knowingly when I observe that a lot of people must like the new online application in which you can keep the same photo you had when you looked younger.

"It is what it is," she says. Meaning, I think, that a picture is just a picture and the only ones likely to see it are airport security, a police officer, or, in my case, when I get carded at a bar.

I agree that the photo is much ado about nothing. But weight is another matter.

When I say I couldn't complete the online form, she says I must have changed something. Even one change, she says, can throw it off.

I look at my licenses, old and new. One thing jumps out. My weight has changed, dramatically.

According to the old one, I weigh 4. Not 4 ton. Just 4. No wonder the computer balked. I probably set off alarms at the NSA. (Turns out, the DMV has changed its system from some sort of code to your actual weight. That ain't going to make people happy.)

Despite the extreme weight change, I am identified.

"You're Joe McQuaid," says one guy. Oh, oh, I think, here it comes.

He is a regular reader, but his wife doesn't like where we put the Sunday crossword, and why did we take up a whole page last Saturday for a Pinkerton honor roll? (I'm with him on that one. I like honor rolls, but Pinkerton's is like printing the entire U.S. Census.)

"Are you Joe McQuaid?" asks another guy. I try to deny it, but this guy says he has met me. He works for another newspaper, and we should have chosen his company to print our paper.

I am about to decide that a driver's license isn't worth the effort when, Bingo!, my number is called. I am free at last, but no longer a 4.


Write to Joe McQuaid at or on Twitter at @Deucecrew

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