© robert bechtle
Note: this post contains no irony.
I was at an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles today, and I left happier than I was when I arrived. First off, technology has been a friend to the system. There are big boards with LED numbers, so you actually can calculate how long your wait will be. Very civilized - read your magazine, keep an eye on the big number, head to counter #4 when called. Second, it was refreshing to see a jovial (and obviously brave) driving test administrator, greeting young drivers-to-be. Third, those same teenagers were seated waiting with their parents, and there was a nice nervous, excited energy in the air.
Mostly, though, I had a great time watching the drivers license photos being taken. Another good-natured DMV employee (I swear) manned the camera, which instantly sent a digital file to her monitor. She was so pleasant and made her subjects feel relaxed, in what most would consider a horrible way to spend 4 seconds. But here's the icing on the vehicular cake - she only called my first name when it was my time to be photographed, and when I arrived at her counter, she asked quietly how I pronounce my last name. When my license was ready, a few (minutes!) later, she called out my full name confidently, pronouncing it perfectly.
Due to the low tech lighting of the camera, and to my lack of recent physical exercise, I'll politely decline to show you my new portrait. Instead, here's a painting, above, by Robert Bechtle. Were all station wagons green back then?