Don’t Let the Haters Get You Down

There are a lot of isms going on out there. Racism, sexism, plagiarism—heck, even mindless summer movies aren’t safe from the vitriol. Political passion and excess, I get. Ghostbusters? Really? So you don’t like chicks in your favorite movie franchise. Why get your panties in a twist? Just don’t spend your money to watch it. Vote with your wallet. That’s what we used to call it back in the dark ages of the wild 80s (and even before, I’m guessing). If we didn’t like stuff, we just didn’t buy it, and we moved on to stuff we did like. I know, I know, it’s cray-cray!

So it’s been a tough year for those of us who like to be funny, but don’t have the political comedic leanings of Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, or Jon Stewart. And if I don’t have the chutzpah to make something funny out of the venom, I decided to try to at least find examples of Americans just hanging out and getting along. Which wasn’t much easier. The internet is burning and small groups of my friends don’t count.

But I’m happy to report, I finally found a place of utter equality. No one group has the advantage over another. Men, women, and others are all treated equally. Money will not get you in a faster line. And at least in Massachusetts, every person age 16 or older will most likely pass through its egalitarian doors. What is this miracle of democracy, you ask? It’s not the voting booth or the library. It’s the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). You can say what you like about excessive bureaucracy, but after 35 years of my own complaints about it, I have finally discovered its silver lining. The red tape that frustrates us, also serves to remind us that we’re all equal in the dull, unflappable eyes of the state. Even if you don’t own a car, in my state at least, you still go there to get a Mass. ID.

I was there not too long ago with my son who was taking the test to get his learner’s permit. We waited 15 minutes in a line to get a number. Then we waited 30 minutes to have our number called. Then I waited another 10 minutes while he took the test. And we waited amongst the mass of humanity known as the population of the US. People of all shades, states of dress, ages, sitting together as equals on very hard wooden benches. Strangers slid over to make room for their fellow sufferers. The sounds of a half a dozen languages peppered the quiet room. One man paced around in a long oval, but no one bothered him. Numbers were called in implacable order, no jumping ahead. Lives didn’t matter as much as having the proper paperwork, and the RMV makes a better effort to find out if people do have it at the door. This helps reduce fisticuffs between the workers and the waiters. No place is perfect.

So, if you’re feeling down about all isms and yelling and the intolerance, go sit in your local RMV for 5 or 10 minutes, and have a look around. It’s not a giant waste of time, money, and sanity. It’s all that and the American dream of equality in its purist form. What more can you ask for?

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