Such A Long Line

My friend needs to renew his license and I have to be there to translate for him. I thought 8:30AM is a pretty early hour to be at DMV, but when I arrived there I was shocked to find a line starting from the entrance of the one story bungalow type of building, winding its way to somewhere I could not see, then snaking back into view again along the wire fence at the far end of the parking lot, and extending towards the outside sidewalk all the way to a nearby lawn. Suddenly I felt like crying, as if this is another sign of the erosion of civilization, all because of a little tiny virus that one can’t see or grasp. I feel that I am not qualified to be a hardy, sturdy immigrant who can achieve, if not anything else, at least endurance. A period of ten years is nothing to us, let alone a little line of one mile long. From the stories I’ve heard and people I know, the inevitable conclusion is we can endure almost anything, except that I am not so robust. If anything, I am fragile, nervous, and impertinent. I often find the consequence of endurance doubtful, its process grueling, its aim uninspiring. However throwing away endurance is like a leopard throwing away its innate hunting skills or a rabbit cease to dig tunnels underground. What other traits do I have to replace it with? I have no idea.

A car stopped near me and the driver waved to me for some reason. Then I realized that I was standing in a spot that he wanted to squeeze in to park. The parking lines have been long gone, or probably have never been in existence to start with. I moved away and headed to the door where there are two women in uniform standing, who looked like people with authority to dispense information. Somehow I thought the staff working here must be overwhelmed and exhausted, with such a long waiting line, busy schedule, and nonstop repetitive work. I don’t blame them. I would be really bad tempered in such an environment and may snap at anybody who put a question to me. However the ladies are exceptionally good humored, and answered my questions with kindness and concern.
“How long is the wait?” I asked the first lady.
“Five days.” She replied. She’s trying to be funny, but I didn’t laugh in time to make her feel good. That happens to me a lot that my reciprocation is never as prompt as required, which often damages the momentum of the conversation.
“What to do then?” I said in despair.
“Get in line.” She ordered me good-naturedly.
“Is there a restroom somewhere?” I am asking a useless question, but I can’t help it.
“Over there.” She turned half way and pointed to somewhere in the parking lot, where I looked but couldn’t make anything out.

When the first lady turned around to go inside, I marched to the second lady and got the information I needed. Apparently my friend doesn’t have to worry about renewing for the next two months. I was relieved. So I called him immediately and informed him of it.

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