I am stopping by the DMV today. I have to get my auto license renewed and it’ll cost over $100 not including the smog check my car required, even though it’s still relatively new and passed with flying colors. Still, I’ll be smiling when I pay my fees. I can imagine being pretty upset about the inconvenience; but like many who’ve traveled or lived abroad, I returned to the United States to find a reserve of patience I never knew I left here.
I made a visit to California while living in Germany, where drivers spend over $1000 to get their driver’s licenses, and wait in long lines to fill out forms for them. I took advantage of the visit to San Jose to renew my driver’s license, which I could, at least unofficially, use in Europe. I remembered the long lines in southern California so I got there very early, but alas, the line had already formed before the doors were even opened. Then, before we were let in,
angels employees came and handed out forms and little pencils for us to fill out while waiting. They let us know which line we’d have to wait in once the golden gate doors were opened
Once we were inside we waited a bit more in our respective queues and I listened, smiling, to the muttering and complaining from my line-mates. I was eventually helped by a bored but friendly official, who asked me for a correction on the form, and then for $12 for the renewal. That’s it. Done. I few years previous, there is little doubt that I would have joined in the chorus of whining about the lines and bureaucracy, but that day, I was grinning ear to ear at the lack of expense and the relative ease with which I was able to perform this little task.
I don’t always remember how happy I was that day to wait for a little while in line and pay my money. I also don’t mean to imply that Germany has a horrible system of intractable bureaucracy while the United States is some smoothly operating machine. (Even if that is true for the DMV.) Still, it’s helpful for us to notice when things aren’t nearly that bad after all and maybe revel in it a bit. That’s why I’ll be smiling at the DMV today.