“C142. Charlie 142, Lane 8 please. Charlie 142, C142, Lane 8,” the computerized AI voice over the PA system said. The number flashed and scrolled on a 10-inch marquee across the entire lane area.

Each lane had a specific function. Lanes 1-3 were all-purpose lanes. Lane 6 was for registrations, 7 for photos only, and 8 for IDs only.

Dennis checked his watch and his paper stub. He had been at the DMV for 22 minutes, but was hoping to be out and back to work in an hour. It wasn’t looking good.

How hard could it be to update an address?

Others told him to do it online faster but he wanted to update his photo too because his could easily pass for a mug shot.

“D25. Delta 25, Lane 5 please. Delta 25, D25, Lane 5.”

“Finally, progress,” he said under his breath.

He rose with his manila folder, hoping it contained everything he’d need at the counter. Before entering the building, an armed guard had checked the information he had against the reason he was at the DMV. Dennis saw the guard turn away two drivers in front of him.

“How can I help you, sir?” the lady with the name tag Diana said.

“Diana, I’d like to update my address and get a better photo taken. The one I have now looks like a mug shot.”

“Ha. We get that a lot. Can I see your paperwork?” Diana said as she no doubt had said a dozen times already this morning. “Current license, proof of address change, and insurance.”

Rote. Now just a habit after being said two or three thousand times a month.

Dennis handed her his information, which she began entering into the computer.

“Dennis Jay Marin. I like it. Address 209 Shadow Lakes. Good. I like it too. All the makings of a novel. Just curious, Mr. Marin, what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a software tester.”

“You test software?”

“Yes, after programmers develop new software, I test it to make sure it functions the way it’s intended to. Essentially, I try to break it,” Dennis said. “And once I do that and the programmer fixes it again, I test it to see if it’s still broken. Or I can try to break more of it.”

“You do it all day?”

“Sure. More or less.”

Diana nodded, then squinted. “No offense, but I’d think that’s a bit dull, especially if you do it all day.”

Marin paused. He looked around at the clerks at their stations, listened to a number being called out by the computerized announcer, and at Diana herself–a thirtyish brunette with French nails. A stack of processed paperwork lay to her right.

Marin nodded too. “You’re right. Kinda boring. Pays the bills though.”

“I hear that. Now if you’ll just step over to the photo stand behind Lane 1. I’ll tell you the rules beforehand.” Diana paused, and in one breath, said, “No glasses or jewelry. No teeth showing. Look directly into the camera. The photo will be processed and issued to you at the kiosk in front of Lane 1 within 5-7 minutes. Any questions for me?”

“Just one. Can I turn this new mug shot into an 8 ½ x 11 glossy?”


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