AN ODE… to the DMV

You read that right. The DMV as in the Division of Motor Vehicles. Your PTSD acting up yet? Well take your meds and strap in. I know what y’all are thinking and this isn’t that. This is an actual ode to the oldest of government professions, an agency dedicated to the systematic pissing off of the greatest number of the populace in a given eight-hour workday.

Without sarcasm, snark, condescension or tongue in cheek; with malice toward none, I will attempt to relay to you dear reader, in a non-ironical way, why on this particular day the DMV should be lauded, heaped with praise even. Yeah, I said heaped.

The story begins on a rare cool day in Knoxville, September-ish, year of our Lord 2021. My license plate was expiring Oct 31. Now in Tennessee we have, as I’m sure other states do, an on-line system that allows you to renew your plates with the click of a mouse and a surrender of $30 American for the plate and $35 American for the Queen’s share.

Basically for a few clicks and $65 clams you’re done, and you never had to do your hair or see/deal with people. Your sticker and new registration arrive promptly 14 business days later. Honestly, it’s pretty awesome.

However, on this particular day the system spit back, Plates cannot be renewed 90 days from expiration. Of course, that’s weird because I hadn’t paid it yet and was well within the 90 days. So, I wait till October, same deal. Tried again in November, same same and if we’re being honest, I completely forgot about it after that.

Flash to May of 2022 and Tracy’s van comes up for renewal but Tennesse is changing plates. That means no on-line magic. Have to go into the DMV to get the new plates, which FYI are much nicer looking in my opinion. Anyway, I thought since hers were up I’d try my plates again. Same message from the web site.

Not too shabby

Now I know I have not paid for my registration for the new year, so I’ve gone nine months on what I guess are illegal plates? My laziness to this point has kept me from going to the DMV to get this fixed and I’ve been skirting the law for a while. My 4:30am work schedule and working from home two days out of four has helped greatly in this regard.

I have no choice now. Got to make the pilgrimage to get the new plates for Tracy. When I say pilgrimage think going to Mecca but not as fun. The problem: May was quickly coming to a close and half the family is preparing to go to Europe for ten days. Plus there are a bunch of other poor excuses as to why I did not get to the DMV until the day Tracy and Frank were leaving for London. Oh and I had a window of two hours before I’d have to bail out to get home in time to take them to the airport shuttle leaving from the school.

Yeah man I was putting a lot of faith in the agency where red tape is actually manufactured. Especially in light of my last trip there over a decade ago. You can read that here if you like: What’s in a name?

Really, I was counting on the joint being covered up to make it a non-issue. Then I hit the Brewster’s Ice Cream place and be home in plenty of time to take them to the shuttle and I’d deal with the plates another day. Easy. Hell, any more days and I’d come around for renewal on my plates again, having gone a whole year without paying. Felt a little like Jesse James. A little.

Sadly, there was a parking space. Just one. So I decided to at least give it a try. Half way to the building I come face to face with one of Knoxville’s finest. Big smile and a hello and a question as to where I was going. Since I didn’t know where the place was located in the sprawling facility it was a pleasant surprise to be told where the door was and how to get into the DMV office from there. She was incredibly helpful and we’re off to a good start.

Then I step in and it’s wall to wall. I mean literally wall to wall. After a minute I realize I have to take a number. The “Now Serving” sign was not obvious for obvious reasons. When I found the sign, I had 24 they were serving 92, I was immediately crest fallen until I remembered the ice cream I was now going to get. But yeah it was so busy the sign had not even rolled over yet. I was half expecting it to jump several numbers ahead because surely these government drones just keep forgetting to advance the sign.


It was at this point my body language, if not my actual language, betrayed me. The nice officer I met on the sidewalk was now standing next to me. She came over to tell me it moves fast and if I don’t have to be anywhere for the next 30 minutes, I should be fine. Again, she was very helpful and reassuring as the 30 minutes would work great, but no way I’m buying that timeline.

I mean there is no way they are moving fast enough to clear out all thes…. 94! 94 TO WINDOW 1 PLEASE!

Well holy hell they are moving pretty qui… 95! 95 TO WINDOW 2!

No freaking way. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a Moses at the burning bush type revelation but man it’s getting close. Now I’m looking at my watch doing the math. So, let’s see, if they call my number by 1pm I should be good, 1:15 at the latest and I can still make it home, grab them up and get them to the shuttle. But I still don’t see how it’s… 96! 96 TO WINDOW 4 PLEASE. 97! 97 TO WINDOW 1.

A few things to note. Window 4 is a rock star and who is the lazy bastard at Widow 3? That cat needs to find a new gear. Turns out, obviously to everyone but me, the room is full of people getting new plates since Tennesse canceled the current version. Apparently, that’s not a very intricate procedure.

And as astounding as it seems, not 21 minutes later I’m tripping the light fantastic to Window… you guessed it, Window 3. My man is getting some positive reinforcement from me and maybe a bit of a pep talk to get him back in the game. Gladys at Window 4 is flat out smoking his hind parts.

First, I have to take care of Tracy’s plate in case my nine months as an outlaw comes to light and things go sideways. I’m not the healthiest person walking the earth but in this joint I’m pretty sure if I have to flee, I’m making it out. Turned out to be a non-issue.

My man James of Window 3 was all over it. When I explained my story, he said, Yeah, it shouldn’t do that. Not a font of knowledge I grant you, but straight to the point. James is winning me over. So I asked how do I fix it. Again James dropped a pearl amongst swine. I’ll just renew your plate right now.

Yeah, sounds about right. No fine, no surcharge. Just the standard fee as if I was paying on time. You know why? Cause it shouldn’t do that, as James said earlier. And just like that, in less than seven minutes I walked out with two new plates and registration cards.

When I stepped in the joint, I had number 24 and they were on number 92. In less than 30 minutes I was walking out of there. I had to take a moment and pause just to try to comprehend what happened. Was I in some parallel universe? Had I died and this was my heaven? Nope. I simply walked into a place where the people were professional, polite, helpful, and very good at their jobs.

The DMV: come for the snazzy new plates, leave faster than you could have ever imagined.

Yeah, but what is that in golf years?

So, let’s just get to it. I’m getting old. I’ll be 55 years old this August. (August 20th to be exact. Venmo and PayPal info available upon request.) I’ve never felt old before. I kinda don’t now. I mean shit hurts. Joints mostly. But they never hurt while I’m doing the thing that will make them hurt later. I can still walk 18 and play tennis with the kid. It’s only after that the shoulders/arms and legs/knees don’t want to move on command.

I guess that’s literally getting old, but I never thought of those things as getting old. How can I be getting old; I still have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old. Fart jokes make me laugh hysterically, and don’t cause me to fart myself while I’m laughing. That’s a pretty decent litmus test in my opinion. Yet somehow, I am getting old.

It’s at this point I feel the need to mention the fact that I am the 2nd youngest of 8 siblings. Not sure if they still read since I haven’t written anything since September of last year. If they do see this, there is no doubt they will take issue with the fact I’m calling myself old since they are all older than me. And they’d probably be justified in their issue taking. I found out the other day age and time are all up for grabs. It’s an individual thing.

I promise I will not use that stupid, tired, cliche Age is just a number. Don’t even get me started with that crap.

See, see! Right there. Old me, (meaning younger me, this is so confusing), would have eviscerated someone for using such a lazy cliche. Instead, I just let it go now, because, well, I’m old and too tired to point out the stupidity of a thing anymore. Eh it happens.

I still don’t get bothered by snot nosed whipper snappers calling me sir. Sort of like it if I’m being honest. What has put the bee in my bonnet so to speak is the golf course.

Yes, yes I know it. Hard to believe. But it’s true. The bone I have to pick is with the thing I enjoy almost more than anything. And it’s worse than that. It’s going to my kid’s golf matches that got this whole screed rolling.

This was Frank at the dawn of his golf career.

That’s Frank. He was 4 going on 5 when that pic was taken. Tiger Wood’s social media people used that pic on the front of the TW Facebook page before the start to Wood’s season in 2015. Proud moment and all that. The point is I was still youngish then. Cool dad no doubt. I was still six months away from going back to work and losing my stay-at-home dad title. Good times man, good times.

I bring that up to brag and to make this point. That kid in the pic, with a buttery smooth swing; albeit left-handed, has grown up. Still golfs left-handed. That’s a shame for another blog post.

But it hit me the other day at his latest golf match. He’s currently playing for his middle school golf team, and I was walking the course watching him play. It wasn’t a bolt of lightning type thing, but something occurred to me while I watched him out there playing and managing his game on his own, in the middle of a competition no less.

That’s his middle school squad. Frank is in the long gray pants. Why would you smile like that wearing long pants?

By the rules of these type things, I can’t coach or give advice. Only assist with finding a lost ball. I would absolutely cheat the system and try to cheekily whisper stuff to him, but he has too much of my mother in him. That means 2 things. One, he’s a rule follower. And two, and most important, his hearing and the ability to have quiet conversation sucks. In other words, anything I say to him will be met with a response of WHAT DID YOU SAY DAD? at the top of his lungs and I’d be outed as a cheat.

But you know what else occurred to me? Rules or no, I can’t tell him anything anymore anyway. He’s about to be 13. What that means so far is this; on the golf course, he’s starting to figure it out all on his own.

And damn it if the kid didn’t out drive me on the par 4 8th at Dead Horse Lake, our local, during a practice round. I thought he must have caught the cart path or a sprinkler head. So, I did what any proud, self-respecting, dad would do. Oh bullshit Frank, here tee up another one and do that again.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what happened the second time. I leveled the field a bit on the way to the next hole though. I made him drive the cart up to the tee box and I walked under the pretense I needed to stretch out my back. Thank god there was no lake or pond between the 8th green and 9th tee box, cause that cart would have been a submarine with no sides, and he would not have found Nemo.

Bro, the bones may hurt, but the neurons still fire.

But at the actual match the next week I was hoisted by my own Pitard as it were.

Walking to the club house from the parking lot to get some water, I passed by the golf cart washing garage. The kid, and I mean kid, doing the duty pushed some stuff off the seat of the cart he was cleaning and offered me a ride to the club house. It was 20 yards away. I stopped and stared at this kid unable to form words.

Then I did.

No man I’m good.

You sure sir. It will be no problem.

It’s right there man. I’m good.

It’ll be no problem to give you a ride the rest of the way sir.

The rest of the w… Is the club house going to keep getting further away? Is it on wheels and about to drive off?

No sir.

Yeah then I’m good.


No sir on that last one. That OK was dripping with old man condescension. Like, Ok you old bastard, die on your way there see if I care. type condescension.

I mean how feeble must have I looked to that kid? I felt like I was walking with my normal brisk pace. And yet he seemed almost positive I was not going to make the last 20 yards! And before any of you country club set chime in, this is not a place where tips are a thing. It’s a public course and the kid was not shilling for a few bucks. So I’m not exactly sure what was in it for him, other than to shame an old man. Who knows.

I did let it affect me though as I turned down the spectator cart offered up to parents. It’s a nice touch but screw that. I was walking that course. Even if it was my last walk ever.

Between me and you it is actually harder to walk a golf course when you’re not playing. Lot more standing around. That is less than optimal for the old joints and such. I didn’t care. I’ll free base some Advil when I get home. Screw that kid.

Anyway, here is the kid, my kid. At the ripe age of 12 about to be 13 in mid-May. His swing is decent although not as fluid when he was 4. But who amongst us…?

Couldn’t get the clip to play so you get a still shot.

Solid move there. Head stays down an outrageous amount of time after impact. That’s a big key, and one it took me forever to figure out. He’s old school, doesn’t like using a glove, wears long pants, and goes hat/visorless. He’s only wearing a hat here because he couldn’t get his hair out of Art Garfunkel mode. Google it.

So yeah, Frank has been golfing in some form or fashion for about 8 years now.

Apparently, I’ve been aging during that time.

Who knew?

Chaos and Control at the Car Lobby Pick-up.

Pressed back into service after years, and I mean years, of being on the bench I found myself back amongst the denizens of the dreaded car lobby pick-up line. A lot has changed since those lazy days of pre-school drop off and elementary school car lobby pick up.

As much as it may be hard to believe the traffic has picked up considerably. I have no science to follow on this, but I imagine parents wanting to keep their kids off the busses full of little covid coughers might have caused the up-tick in kids’ being dropped off and picked up.

The other major changes? Well I’m droppin off and picking up for two now. Those two also go to separate schools so the route has expanded as well. We’ve got one in middle school so that means a cross town hike. The elementary school drop-off I used to make years ago was a milk run. No traffic to speak of, a short mile and a half to travel, and not one traffic light. I was in the tall cotton as they say round here.

Not now man. Now I’m dealing with mall traffic, and endless sea of traffic lights, and my favorite traffic obstacle here in the South, the dastardly four-way stop. Had Sherman invented these in 1864, he may not have had to burn Atlanta to the ground. We’ll just never know. The four-way stop is just a conundrum for Southerners it seems. The methodology of it conflicts with their desire to yield to all other cars at the other three stop signs. And since they are all yielding to each other, you tend to get a bit of a stare down.

That propensity to be nice on the roadways is not a burden that I carry. I subscribe to more of a hit man’s philosophy in those situations, taking my shot when others think it not prudent to do so. That brings on a different kind of stare. Look man, it’s highly likely I’d still be sitting at one if I didn’t just say screw it and go. One thing working in my favor, the cars in the morning jaunt to the schools are all nicer than mine by a lot. Who wants to bust up their nice ride on our old but still sexy Honda van. No one right? So I just go.

I could go on about the traffic for nine more paragraphs but I won’t. What has brought me to the key board this day is the vast difference between the Car Lobby Pick Up at the elementary school and the Lord of the Flies survival of the fittest pick up at middle school.

Woe unto me for ever mocking the iron fisted control of the car lobby pickup lane at elementary school. You can read my blasphemy here if you like Car Lobby Pick Up Lane. Who knew back then I would crave the frantic waving arms with red coned flashlights attached directing the cars, the stern looks of disappointment at a newbies inability to discern the pattern and drive accordingly, or the threat of violence from other parents, (mostly entitled moms) for having the gall to step from your vehicle thus breaking the battle rhythm of the ballet like movement of mini-vans making their pick up.

Oh I tell you now the pick up at middle school has me yearning, yes yearning, for the comfy warmth of the iron curtain dictatorship in the elementary school pick up line.

They are all animals in middle school; unbridled, untamed, uncouth, animals. There is no rhyme, no reason, no decorum, and no shrill lunch lady on the side hustle as the Fuhrer of the car lobby waving her flashlight as if it was Darth Vader’s light saber. There is no car lobby at all man! It’s just naked, open, aggression to the doors. You can even get out of your vehicle and no one cares. Anarchy, bald anarchy.

The arrows and parking lines are there only to be mocked and ignored. Driving against the arrows seems more like a right of passage. Try to drive with the flow and you’re in for all manner of gestures from the more veteran knuckle draggers. None of the gestures are compliments as far as I can tell.

It’s been a week of weeks I will say that much. It was not like riding a bike. It was like waking from a coma to find horse and buggy driven by a friendly traveler replaced by a BMW piloted by an angry entitled mom who will either call you a Trumper as she puts on her fourth mask and cuts you off, or flip you off and call you a snowflake as she hurls a burning mask at your car…. and cuts you off.

The laughter from my oldest in the back seat may be the only saving grace of that experience. Even though he’s laughing at me, that’s a far cry from the mood of virtual school all last year. The fact there’s a Chik-fil-a on our homeward leg helps too

Middle school pick up man, you got to want it.