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A Trip to the DMV With My Diabetes Man-Purse

Andy Stuckey

January 4, 2007

Yesterday, I went to the New York State DMV on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to get my driver’s license renewed. My license expired two weeks ago on my birthday, and ever since then I’d been dreading this day. I tried to keep my hopes up that the turnaround would be quick, checked my blood glucose (82), ate a granola bar, and shuffled out the door with my mp3 player clipped to my belt loop.

I often try to predict how an errand will go based on whatever songs are randomly selected by my mp3 player. This errand started off nicely with a little Greg Brown, Avett Brothers, and some old Hank Williams. But as I strolled down Atlantic Avenue with my passport and birth certificate in hand (in case anything got crazy at the DMV), things started to go awry. My left headphone began to fade in and out, and the sounds of Atlantic Avenue began to dominate over the music I was trying to listen to. Prediction: This was going to suck.

After crossing what I believe to be the longest and loudest intersection in New York (Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush), I made my way to the second floor of the Atlantic Center Mall to the DMV. (I think it’s the longest intersection in New York because the orange caution hand blinks about 15 times, compared to the normal 7 or 8 times, before it stands still and insists that you Do Not Walk.)

Strolling down the hallway to the DMV, all the signs of disaster were laid out before me. An employee of the DMV was sitting just outside the entrance staring into space, and there were three different lines of 40–50 people doing the same thing.

I approached the DMV employee and asked her which line was for driver’s license renewal. She didn’t know and pointed me to the line closest to her. Not trusting her, I went and asked another DMV employee staring into space which line I should get in. He pointed me to the line closest to him. I asked him a second time to make sure and he confirmed that this was where I needed to be. I waited on that line for 30 minutes until I got to the front and saw the very small paper sign that said “license and nondriver ID renewal go to photo line.”

I was not in the photo line. I was in the information line.

At this point I could feel my blood glucose level sinking. It’s one of those weird stress things that shouldn’t happen but does every now and then.

I pulled out a snack bar and took a bite, and then it was my turn in the information line. I walked up to the lady at the desk and she stapled my papers together and told me to get in the photo line. Thirty minutes to have my papers stapled. Awesome.

I got in the photo line, waited 20 minutes to get my picture taken, and then they gave me a number and I waited another 20 minutes and, finally, I was done. By then I’d eaten the whole granola bar and checked my blood glucose again, as it was approaching 2 o’clock.

At the end of this two-hour debacle, I must say that I had a feeling of accomplishment. When a very simple task is made unnecessarily difficult, I find that, once it’s accomplished, I feel like I’ve done a lot that day. So I treated myself to a salad and omelette at a local French restaurant—I even ordered the 2 o’clock glass of red wine (for my heart) alone.

Next time, though, I’ll try to mail-order my license. But thank goodness yesterday I had my diabetes/Jack Bauer man-purse, complete with glucometer, granola bars, glucose tabs, extra lancets, and pen needles. More on that soon.



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