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Monday, March 29, 2010

Life through the prism of the MVA...

The world is somewhat cold and rainy and gray this morning here in our Nation's Capital.   

Appropriate for a Monday, I guess. Things started a bit early for me today as I went to the MVA here to finally take care of renewing my registration, but let me tell you, as early as I got to the MVA office, which was just before 8 this morning, there were people who were there earlier. In fact, the MVA didn't open til 8:30 and by the time I got there, about two dozen people were already lined up waiting to be first in to handle their business. 

Crazy, right? 

Anyway, I got to thinking while I hurried up - to wait - about stress in life. It's funny. Life seems to come down to a few minutes here and there. If you're running a few minutes too late, it throws everyone else off, throws you off and the stress goes up. If you're running early, well, there's no harm in being early, unless you're so concerned with being early that you kill yourself trying to be earlier than everyone else. 

I'd rather be early than late more often than not. I admit at times I'm not the best with punctuality. Ask anyone who knows me well about "Toby-time" and you'll realize that there's a 15 minute factor put into place... Meaning, if an event starts at 7:30, friends, colleagues and more will tell me that it starts at 7:00 so that I'll be there on time. LOL. True story. And I know that being late is disrespectful to the people who are counting on me or are around me at the time, so I try pretty hard to be on time anymore. 

But sometimes, the best intentions don't always break the best way and I'll run a minute late here or a minute late there.  Nowadays, I try to keep that to a minimum. I'm lucky I have a boss who is flexible and friends who, well, are sometimes forgiving. 

The thing I think I want to impress this morning is that sometimes, just sometimes, you have to let life happen. And you have to take it all in while you do. This morning, I observed students and business people, moms and tow truck drivers, all lined up. Some were agitated. Some, upon seeing the pre-opening line at the DMV looked dejected. Others just looked blank as they waited for 45 minutes or so just to get their five minutes of face time with a real human being who could take care of their motor vehicle needs.  Nothing anyone could do would speed things up. Nothing anyone could do would slow things down. 

It was just... humans being. 

But then I realized something as I talked with the first woman - the keeper of the DMV "flow" - who guides you toward your ultimate goal. After hearing several people before me explain their plight, and needs, some with frustration and some others with agitation, I decided to, well, bring levity to the situation. Some would say that I "turned on" the "tk" side of my persona and went about working the room the way we'd work, say, Bunkers in Leesburg or any other appearance we get to do from time to time. 

Eye contact? Check and direct. Genuine smile? Yup. Get her name? Yup. From her name tag, but respect her as "ma'am" and go from there. 

"Good morning, ma'am, I have a few things I need to do this morning and I believe you can help me to get them done..." She looked up from the computer screen she was looking at and our eyes connected. Instantly I became a person and not a complainer with a number. I smiled at her and said "Always an adventure here in the morning, right?" As if to let her know I could understand her plight, to which she replied, "you never know what we're going to get from day to day." 

"I can imagine, and hopefully, you and I will have a more fun time..." 

We did. She was cordial, happy, very helpful and, while the time spent getting to that point, and ultimately taking care of the business took at least an hour and a half from start to finish, those few moments - those few minutes of 'being' - gave me a bit of a lift as I hurried up to wait some more for the next clerk. But again, I used the same sort of "kill 'em with kindness" technique and again, I think it brought some brightness to people already contending with the cold, rainy and gray start to the new work week. 

Sometimes, I think, you've gotta try your best to be on time, so as not to put others out, but sometimes, time has away of saying, "hey, you're going to spend a few minutes here and they may not be the best use of your time, but try to get through it and make a difference if you can..." 

For me, this morning was one of those times. And while I was just customer A16 of who knows how many faces they'll see today, I hope that the time we spent - albeit brief in the scope of eternity, brought them something because, honestly, it brought something to me. 

This will be a busy week. It's passover for my Jewish friends. It's the week leading to Easter for my friends of the Christian persuasion. It's also the week that my little one celebrates her sixth birthday, as she enters her 7th year of life. In fact, Kyla's birthday is tomorrow...

And with that, I go forth into the week. I trust yours will be the best you can make it, and I'll try to do the same, too. 

Thanks for reading. 

-t.