john coffey of the green mile. and the dmv.

Yesterday I hung out at the DMV- and yearned for French Bureaucracy.

I wanted to renew my nine-years-gone license. Only they wouldn’t renew it – mainly on the premise that busing around Europe isn’t quite the same as driving around America – and made me sit the whole shebang.

I lined up with a crew of pimply faced fifteen year olds and answered stupid questions about wonky suspension and bumpy roads. Then John Coffey from The Green Mile stepped up to administer the driving portion. John Coffey from The Green Mile barely fit into my car – but he fit. And off we went.

I did ok avoiding the squirrels on the 50 foot wide street with no markings because, lets face it, a ten year old could drive through a residential district like that. Still, with Coffey at your side, every thing’s intimidating. Five minutes in, we jump to a busier road and a 90 year old woman in a too-suped-up sedan decided to pull into my lane (Please note she was moving toward me, not with me).

I grew up dodging deer and opossums but not so much the old women in Mercedes. I panicked and pulled the only evasive maneuver I knew, which could have killed us just as easily as the grandma…and then said “Crap, I don’t know if I was suppose to do that.” John Coffey didn’t say a word.

Later, in front of the camera, I did get a rumbling “You can smile. If you want”. I tried. But it came out as a squint.

So here I am, for now. Back on the road. In the land of the SUV and the big ton truck…do my little Dodge and I even stand a chance?

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  • Cover Your Mouth
    Oct 3, 2006 at 17:41

    I love my little Toyota and she and I zip around the city like no one’s business, but when I take her out on the open road with the semi trucks hauling wares and the semi truck-sized SUVs hauling families of three, she gets a little intimidated. Welcome back to the road!

  • themarina
    Oct 3, 2006 at 17:44

    Driver photos are the worse things ever. Along with passport photos, they should be banished for ever. They never even look like the real person!

  • Buffy
    Oct 3, 2006 at 18:11

    Marina, it does warm the cockles of my heart to hear you say that. Because I won’t be showing my dmv photo off any time soon.

    I don’t know how they manage it…but you go in KNOWING it’s going to be horrible….and try to make it good. Doesn’t work. Especially with Coffey eyeballing you.

  • Kyla Bea
    Oct 3, 2006 at 20:27

    When I had my driver’s license renewed this year the woman who took my picture was an absolute sadist, and probably also my personal hero. She was totally blank of emotion and expression, told me to look into the camera and then out of the blue became animated and told me a joke. Which I laughed out loud at. Which is when she took the picture. I guess you’ve got to make work interesting some how! Good luck on the open road!

  • Bre
    Oct 3, 2006 at 20:51

    I’m making a weird face in my photo, cause the guy taking it was creepy and asked me on a date. Ew.

    Speaking as one of the big SUVs on the road… no, you don’t stand a chance! 😉

  • anne
    Oct 3, 2006 at 21:14

    Not to brag, but I love my drivers license photo. I am never getting rid of it, even though I look 12. Could be my best pic ever. Now my passport and Visa card are a whole other bag of disgusting.

  • Jane
    Oct 3, 2006 at 21:20

    My DMV picture is my best picture ever. But I have orange hair in my passport photo.

    Yay! for getting back on the road!

  • Amy K
    Oct 3, 2006 at 21:31

    I gave up my little coupe almost a year ago for an SUV…I sometimes miss the lightness of the coupe! At other times, I am grateful for my newfound V6.

  • steph
    Oct 3, 2006 at 23:49

    good luck!!! dont take any prisoners!

  • teahouseblossom
    Oct 4, 2006 at 3:27

    Hahaha, I’m picturing John Coffee getting into a tiny car. Was he barefoot and with overalls? Did he have the power to heal you merely by touching you?

  • Andrea
    Oct 4, 2006 at 14:14

    I’d say that if I had a choice between the little old lady in the Mercedes and risking the wrath of John Coffey with his poisonous flies, I’d take the lady.

    At least you passed. Welcome back to the road.

  • Liz
    Oct 4, 2006 at 14:42

    At least you passed on the first try….I’m so bitter.

  • Alexandra
    Oct 4, 2006 at 15:41

    The photos on my American driver’s licenses are better than my Canadian one, which makes me look like an escaped criminal.

  • Angela
    Oct 4, 2006 at 19:50

    I’m loving the John Coffey characterization–I can totally picture him behind the camera growling at you to smile.

    Now get out there and take on all of those crazy old ladies and viscious squirrels!

  • Night Writer
    Oct 4, 2006 at 20:57

    Way back in the day I took my driver’s ed training through a 6-week program at my high school. There’s probably a book and a half right there, but one thing I especially remember is a question on the final written exam: What is the most dangerous animal to hit when driving?

    You know, I’m sure I never saw that covered in the text book or heard it in the lecture portions, unless it was slipped into those horrendous road accident movies they show to freak you out, in which case I no doubt blocked it from my mind. Anyway, I gave it about two more seconds of thought and wrote “Rogue Elephant” and moved on.

    Turns out I was wrong, but had enough points to pass anyway. According to the instructor the answer was “hog” as the low center of gravity can flip your car. I’ve never seen a hog on the road, dead or alive, but you can be sure that if I do I’m pulling a bootlegger turn (definitely not taught in class) and going the other direction as fast as I can just to be safe. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to choose between hitting a hog, an elephant or driving into a ditch full of alligators.

  • Oob
    Oct 4, 2006 at 22:35

    Buffy, congrats on surviving the impromptu obstacle course! And ditto on photos! Yuck.

  • gary
    Oct 5, 2006 at 0:46

    Glad you didn’t hit that woman. You probably would have failed the test. 🙂

  • Buffy
    Oct 5, 2006 at 12:23

    Night, I think you were cheated. Clearly this driving instructor had never been to Mumbai.

    Pig smig.


  • Broady
    Oct 5, 2006 at 14:02

    Each time I know I’m in for a photo session at the DMV, I actually apply real makeup, have my hair blown out, and wear a shirt that will photograph well with my complextion. Yes, it’s vain, but I take that shit seriously because it’s the only photo I’m going to be consistently flashing to folks for the next 5 years.

    Buffy– congrats on driving again!

  • Night Writer
    Oct 5, 2006 at 14:16

    Buffy, you’re right. The instructor probably had never been to Mumbai. But maybe he’d done a lot of driving around Little Rock. Ya think?

  • ldbug
    Oct 5, 2006 at 14:46

    Hey congrats on your licence!! It’s so nice to have the freedom of a car. *sigh* miss mine…

  • Buffy
    Oct 5, 2006 at 16:03

    Broady, I did the whole song and dance. I even broke out the lip venom.

    It didn’t work.

    I blame the lighting. 🙂

  • Jane
    Oct 5, 2006 at 18:17

    Lip Venom! Now I’m really in love with you.

  • kenju
    Oct 5, 2006 at 22:04

    Methinks “John” is very happy tonight!

  • Mr. Guinness
    Oct 7, 2006 at 3:09

    (And you thought we were too bureaucratic)
    Mr. G.

  • Dawn (webmiztris)
    Oct 9, 2006 at 5:07

    all i can say is, when you see a granny driving an SUV? look the hell out!

  • Art Tea Life
    Oct 9, 2006 at 23:50

    You made me chuckle with this story.

    gawd is there anything worse than the DMV ?

    A good tooth pulling maybe.

    Good Luck there Girly! you can do it !

    You and The Dodge will be freewheeling in no time

    Even with mercedes and cell phoning.

    I have faith in ya.

  • melanie
    Oct 10, 2006 at 19:22

    get out there and show them americans drive better than they do! even if they have to do it in a dodge.


  • Sex & Moxie
    Oct 11, 2006 at 0:20

    Ahhhhh…one of the advantages of living in Manhattan. No need to go to the DMV because I don’t have to drive.