Monday, September 19, 2011

the tale of the puma and the snail

I made a trip to the DMV today to renew my license. My poor daughter had no choice but to join me. As I was trying to find an oufit that would work in half-warm/half-cool weather (to say nothing of falling somewhere between 9-month and 12-month length), I came across her Puma oufit of baby warm-up pants and jacket - perfect. The matching Puma onesie was dirty so I blindly rooted through her clean clothes and pulled out the purple onesie with the snail. It was a combination that foreshadowed the adventure ahead.

I pride myself in falling in the Puma category. I like to run my errands quickly and efficiently. I'm a lousy window-shopper-browser, and I'm usually thinking five steps ahead of what's happening. People who start an order at Subway after standing in line for 15 minutes with "Um....let's see....what kind of bread do you have?" DRIVE. ME. CRAZY. Me=Puma.

Anyone who has stood in line at the DMV (I'm guessing in any state) can make the mental leap necessary to equate DMV with Snail. Slow, slimy and expressionless. I think in the entire time that I was in there - and including a pre-visit phone call - I received maybe three smiles. And two of those were for Emma. The woman barking orders (yes, at 8 AM - please, make us more miserable) to "Tighten the line" looked like she was going to throw me out because I had a small stroller. I was granted entrance only after she realized I could easily put the stroller length-wise in line and "tighten the line" that way.

Waiting in line, I pulled out my wallet and wrote the check. And waited. Puma's don't wait. Puma's pounce. Except there was no room to pounce - the line was tight. Caged and having the energy sucked out of me by the sticky ooze of DMV-ness, I was getting grouchy.

Then, my turn came. I wheeled Emma forward and the lady asked to see my license. I reached for the wallet and went to grab my license from the plastic window. It was a new wallet and the license was wedged in there. While pawing fiercely with little progress, I mumbled an apology. This was unacceptable Puma behavior. This time, I was the person in line who walked up with the "Uh..." opening. Completely inappropriate. I may walk out with a renewed license, but my Puma-card was going to be revoked.

Here's the thing about Snails though - they're good with patience. They're not in a rush to make as little contact with their world as possible before entering their comfort zone. They drip and ooze all over the place - touching everything. I have no doubt the DMV Snail who was at the front desk was mildly annoyed, but she was gracious, patient and empathetic. I looked back on the interaction and appreciated, for possibly the first time, the value of patience and the beauty of those who use it.

Tomorrow I need to renew my Puma card, but maybe I'll be a bit more empathetic to all creatures, great and small. For, like, a whole minute.

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