Today I did my once-every-five years pilgrimage to the DMV. I already had a license and merely needed to renew it. Therefore, the paperwork I needed to take along with me caused the destruction of a smaller swathe of the Amazonian rain forest than usual. Along with my passport, H1B documentation and I-485 receipt, I merely included my mother's birth certificate, my dad's fourth grade essay competition gold medal and my great grandfather's 1920 tax returns from his goat-herding business. I was ready to renew.
When i entered the DMV office, I saw that there were a mere ten people ahead of me, praise the Lord. After taking a number, I busied myself with attempting to discover a free wi-fi connection for my phone to climb on to. After "HMP500" and "TestyTestMan" both failed to provide me with unsecured internet access, I decided to go with the tried and tested method of staring at the floor. I wondered if there was any paint drying in the vicinity.
Finally, when my number was up, they called me to the photography chamber where the lady behind the counter gave me a computerized questionnaire consisting merely of (a), if I wished to answer (b) in Spanish and (b), if I wished to be an organ donor. After I had answered yes to both questions, the lady, in a tone implying her belief that I had misunderstood the second question, asked me, "You've stated that you want to be an organ donor, is that correct?"
I replied yes, accompanying it with a look that I hoped would communicate to her my view that if people wished to help themselves to the much abused and heavily shredded cables of my mortal coil, hey, more power to them. I really hope she got that look because I put considerable effort into its manufacture.
With all formalities completed, I settled down into the chair for my picture to be taken.
"You may smile if you wish", said the lady, "Please look at the camera".
Since smiling in photos makes me look sheepishly apologetic about my presence on the planet and not smiling in photos announces to people my intention of invading their house while they're asleep and raping their pillows, I offered her my standard "fuck all government issued documents" glare. The camera clicked.
But something appeared to be amiss. The lady called one of her coworkers to her desk. I could hear them whispering and I thought I saw her point to my picture on her screen and say, "Does his (inaudible) look tiny to you?"
I looked down to check if I was wearing pants, which I was, so it had to be something else that had violated the good lady's sense of proportion. I listened more closely in order to make out their conversation. This time, I heard the words shiny and nose.
"Excuse me", I said, "What's wrong?"
"Your nose looks too shiny in the picture", she said to me. "Is it too shiny for a license photo?", she asked her coworker.
"Hold on, my nose is too shiny?" I said. I wanted to be sure that I had an exact understanding of the problem.
The room laughed. I realized that I had been too loud. Reflexively, I wiped my nose on my shirt sleeve. "Shit", I said to myself, realizing too late that wiping it would only serve to augment its reflective properties.
The coworker finally came to my rescue.
"It's okay, his nose is fine", she said.
"Yeah, i guess so", said the picture lady. "I think i was too picky about your nose", she said,turning to me.
"That's okay", I said. I guess it is a good thing that the world contains people willing to burden themselves with the task of maintaining societal nose glitter within manageable limits.
I seated myself beside another Indian guy who had yet to have his photo taken and waited for the production of my new license card to be completed. I noticed that the guy next in line after me had already received his card. The lady behind the counter explained to the Indian guy sitting next to me, "It's because your card needs to be reprinted." Seeing his puzzled look, I explained, "She's speaking to you, but she's actually talking to me." We were both brown so I can understand her confusion.
Finally, my card was done. I walked to the counter to retrieve it. I wished to check on the shininess of my nose first-hand. Well, I couldn't see anything because I was blinded by the light emanating from my nose in the picture. My license picture looked like a miniature solar system with my nose providing life-giving light and warmth to my eyes, ears, forehead and chin that were revolving in elliptical orbits around it. My chin appeared to be simultaneously rotating about its own inclined axis, thereby leading to perfect conditions for the birth of hair. I named my eyes Klaxon and Zorn and drove home humming the Star Trek theme song.
I wonder why no one's ever mentioned anything to me about my shiny nose before. Are you people blind?