One of the things I dislike most, and I assume many Americans do also, is going to the division of motor vehicles (DMV). This morning I found myself having to make a trip there. I recently bought Chris a new car, and unfortunately, I had to make that dreaded trip to register the vehicle. Lest you think I’m about to write about the frustrations of visiting the DMV, I should shift gears right here and begin my musings regarding the point of this piece.
I decided that I would go early, to beat the crowd. It was eight forty-five in the morning when I arrived, and my number was thirty-two. Number ten was being served. I decided to make the most of my stay by observing the people, who were experiencing a layover in government purgatory as was I. It didn’t take me long to realize that the diversity of people there was impressive. This is something I had never really paid attention very much to before.
I remember in my twenties, when I used to visit the DMV, there was certainly diversity: diversity of thought flowing through the minds of the customers; diversity of faith, beliefs; diversity of the kinds of vehicles folks drove to the place. However, most of the people were either Black or white. We all sat quietly, with our body language pronouncing in hush tones our clear frustration. That frustration was often increased when someone finally made it to the counter to be informed by an emotionless, plaster-faced government servant that they had all but one piece of paper. Although society has assigned rungs on the social ladder each of us is to perch, our visit to the DMV is an equalizer almost the same as death and taxes.
This morning, I noticed something different. Yes, the of legacy of frustration abounded in the place. I think most of the folks there, tried to beat the crowd the same as I. We never gave any thought to the idea that like minds may very well lead us to the same place at the same time. After finding my seat, I began to occupy my time the same as so many others waiting in this dark, human corral, fidgeting unproductively with my cell phone. I noticed while I looked about to locate one of the hard, plastic chairs to rest my body, very few people were sitting in a chair next to anyone. If there were elbows touching, chances were that the people sitting next to each other were friends or relatives. I watched with fascination a couple, who had pulled a number and probably had to wait for an hour or more, looking with hope to find two chairs next to each other. Although there were many vacant chairs in the place, they chose to stand instead of sitting next to anyone else or sit apart from each other. Personal space and comfortable space, next to a familiar being, are premiums in a place like this.
The salient point I want to make though, is that the patient, albeit frustrated souls waiting to be served on this fine Monday morning, reflected a rainbow of God-created humanity. Contrary to what I used to experience decades ago, there were people of Asian ethnicity, African, European, Hispanic, and this was just my assumptive mind at work. Without surveying the folks present, I had no way of determining just how many ethnic and cultural varieties of folks were there, reduced to a level of sameness that only the DMV can accomplish. I thought to myself, this is America today (in Arkansas), not New York City or Los Angeles. We reflect much of the makeup of the globe. We are a land that has sprung from joy and pain experienced by multitudes. Though our sins are many, our greatness can only be enhanced by recognizing and cherishing the diversity of humanity that has brought us thus far by God’s grace. My grandpa would probably be a bit confused, yet proud that we’ve evolved into this picture of diversity. I hope most grandpas, alive and late would feel the same.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.