It’s hard to be a caring member of society when you’re standing in line.
The frustration begins when I turn into the parking lot and can’t find a spot. I park in the additional parking lot, walk to the doors of the tax office and my scowl becomes a little more pronounced when I see a line already formed in front of the two clerks on duty.
I’m fifth in line, which feels promising until I see how long each person takes with the clerks. And then as more people line up behind me, one of the clerks leaves her desk. Now there are 15 people in line, and one person to help them all.
As the cliche goes, that’s the government for you.
I’m at the tax office to get my car title transferred to my name, but I start entertaining wild thoughts. I don’t really need a car that bad. Atlanta’s public transportation system is abysmal, so I would have to walk to work along the highway, but the sense of danger would provide a real adrenaline boost. No need for caffeine.
I decide this option wouldn’t work because I would probably be kidnapped by a pack of squirrels driven rabid by car exhaust.
I break out of my train of thought as the older, serene security guard calls out, “Next!” I move up in line.
Lines don’t seem like they should be legal. This is under cruel and unusual punishment, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure they don’t make people stand in lines in Third World countries or whatever.
I start to turn my angst against the other members of the line. Why does this man in front of me keep turning back to look at me? Eyes forward, and attempt not to think of the boredom. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with this couple a few people behind me. The man is in his mid-20s, but the woman whose forehead he kissed must be in her mid-40s. And now the man is putting his arm around her.
Standing in line really does make me a terrible, judgmental person. I tell myself it really isn’t so bad to stand in this line. At least I have a car, and I don’t have to come here every day and deal with cranky people (like me) as the employees must.
But these moments of lucidity are trumped by my feelings of boredom.
I think the most depressing aspect of standing in this line is the look on people’s faces when they walk through the glass doors, and the guard tells them the end of the line snakes around that wall over there. The people start out so hopeful, and then their eyes get a fevered, annoyed look when they see how the line continues.
After what seems like ages — though realistically, it was more like 20 minutes — it’s my turn with the clerk. Ha ha! I give a triumphant look to my line-mates. See you on the other side!
I give the clerk my paperwork, which is held together by a paperclip. I never have my documents together so nicely, so I’m pretty happy with how this looks. I’m about to be done with this drab office.
She breaks that dream when she asks where my notarized affidavit is. What? Yes, I need to get an affidavit signed by the car’s owner and notarized. This document wasn’t online with all other ones. I leave the office, defeated and knowing I will have to get the affidavit and stand in line again.
I sit on the bench outside and gaze at the line as more people walk through the glass doors, making the train of people longer and longer, like some cruel game of Snake.