Mental Breakdown

Mental Breakdown

Do you ever feel like this? Broken down and corroded by time?

This post is about when time compression affected my mind and I fell into what I like to call: Substandard Mental Processes. Otherwise known as Making Bad Decisions. Here is where my story begins.


DMV. The department of motor vehicles. Whew! Just saying it gives me the willies.

For anybody not familiar with this place: Avoid it at all costs. For those of you quite familiar with it, I know you’re thinking, “Now why is she going to spoil my day and make me think about the DMV? Is this the bad decision she’s talking about?”

So my youngest obtained his driver’s permit this summer. Please don’t make the mistake I did and just go there. Make an appointment. We had our reasons for not going the appointment route and waiting the two and 1/2 weeks for it- it just didn’t fit our schedule. There were numerous conflicts, but the most significant determinant was to make sure that the six-month period of him having the permit expired when he was on break from school. So he could take the driving test at that time. All these things factored in my decision to forego making an appointment. Bad decision #1.

Pocketwatch timepiece

Lack of forethought resulted in a compressed time frame. It had to be done quickly in the next few days to achieve my objective. So I monitored the DMV websites to see what nearby office had the shortest wait times. I made my choice of where to go based on that information. For your information, that information is b******t . Or for you more polite folks: Inaccurate.

It is a load of misleading crap concocted by something or somebody. Perhaps a computer with a defective microchip or a sadistic DMV worker for amusement.


DMV worker

Here is the dismal truth. Whatever time you read online: At the very least, triple it, even if you have an appointment.  

Looking back, I suppose I had suppressed the “real” DMV experience from the days of yore so as not to have recurring nightmares, and I blithely accepted that this new online information was up to date and error-free. Bad decision #2.

We arrived at the office. To our dismay, we noted that the line to get inside extended around the building. My son jumped out to get in line, and I luckily found a place in the jammed parking lot. As I joined my son in the line of resigned faces, I thought, Hmmm, this queue doesn’t look 45 minutes long to me but we have no choice.

We arrived at 2:45 p.m. For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, the written tests are not administered after 4:30 p.m. I figured that was enough time based on what I had read online: 45 minute wait time. Bad decision #3.

We finally got into the building and checked in at our first window at 4:15. The clerk handed my son a ticket with the number F022. Knowing that they stop administering tests at 4:30, my son and I start fervently chanting our number like a mantra/prayer as we anxiously watch the designated TV screen. The minutes ticked by: A025, G047, F019, B035, D009… Every time another number with a letter other than F was called, a disappointed, “Awww,” escaped our mouths. At 4:27 p.m., we saw and heard, “F022 now being served at Window 7.”

We raced to the window, but it was too late. The lady pleasantly informed us by the time we finished at her station, the written test window would be closed. Disheartened but determined and hoping against all odds, I asked, “Since we already waited today for nearly two hours, could you write us a pass to get inside tomorrow so we don’t have to wait in line again?”

She answered my query with a bemused look that seemed as if I had asked her to walk on water but then smiled sympathetically and said, “I’m afraid not, but…” she leaned toward me and spoke confidentially, “sometimes you can call and get a same day appointment.” After she relayed her secret information in hushed tones, she finished processing us and sent us to the photo/fingerprint line.

Mr. Peabody and Miss Jane sleeping

Hello?! Time to wake up! I haven’t finished my story yet.

Good Gravy Fremont! Just how long is this story??? 

We waited another 30 minutes in the photo line. Excited to be the next in line to be processed, our hopes for a timely (LOL) departure became permanently dashed. The fingerprint machine went on the fritz. The clerk disappeared and then reappeared with a supervisor to fix it. Then, adding to our frustration (and everybody in line behind us), our attendant was reassigned to different window. We were left standing, cooling our heels for additional 15 minutes until another employee finally arrived.

Finally, we emerged from the dark shadows and despondent expressions of the DMV into the bright sunlight. Shielding my eyes, I thought, Three hours of my life I will never reclaim. Oh, well, it was over. Almost anyway. We had to come back for the written test the next day. At dinner that night, I told my husband our afternoon tale of woe, and he recommended just going over first thing in the morning instead of calling for an appointment. Ignoring the clerk’s sage advice, I listened to him. Bad decision #4.

When we arrived shortly after opening time the next day, the line outside was longer than the day before. “No way!” I exclaimed rather heatedly. There might have been some cursing too. I told my son to get on my phone and make an appointment as I headed back home. After several attempts to get through, he miraculously managed to procure an appointment later in the day.

To make a long story short(er), I spent another hour and 15 minutes that day waiting:

  1. In the confirmation of an appointment line
  2. In the appointment line
  3. For our number to be called to report to window number one
  4. For him to complete his test

A lesson in patience, I suppose. I have to give you, the reader, credit for being patient and getting to the end of this story. I hope you didn’t feel that it was: Bad decision #5.

Well, almost the end. I told my son before he took the test that he had better pass it because I didn’t want to see or think about stepping into the DMV for another six months until it was time for him to get his driver’s license.

Three weeks after this experience, I received a letter in the mail. From the DMV.

With trepidation, I opened it. It was a renewal notice for me.

“Your last two renewals have been by mail. The law requires you to now renew at a DMV office.”

Seriously? No way. Are ya kidding me????

dr j fremont

Subscribe to Dr J Fremont!

About J Fremont

Author/veterinarian J. Fremont has created Magician of Light, a novel about famed glassmaker Rene Laliqué. Exercise your imagination. Enjoy!