If you know me, you know, in real life, then you know Kenny and I don't have the same last name. It's not because I'm trying to make some sort of political statement. And, I have no objections to his last name in principal, or even in theory. But, when I moved to DC, the first time, I had to register my car. It's a long story how that was finally achieved and I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I made four, 4!!!, separate trips to the DMV before the deed was at last accomplished. 4 visits = 22 hours of my life I will never get back.
When we got married, I was still reeling from the pain of dealing with the DC DMV and I couldn't bear the thought of going back there, just to change my name. If you've never lived in a place like DC then you probably think I'm being overly dramatic. But, I assure you, this city's government is run much like a third world country (I speak from experience here, on both counts). Case in point. When Caleb was born, we had to go to the live records office in DC to request a copy of his birth certificate so we could obtain a passport for him. We couldn't go before he was 6 weeks old to allow the government time to put record of his birth into the system. By contrast, when Isaac was born, in Utah, on a Tuesday, we had his birth certificate by Friday. Ah, the bliss of a fully, functional state government not beholden to the whims of 535 men and women most of whom are not even temporary residents of the city for which they hold the purse strings and all administrative authority. But, I digress.
Kenny didn't care about my taking his name, so I didn't. I have since only be back the DMV once in the last 7.5 years. Until today. Last November, I got a parking ticket. $100 fine for parking in a "No standing or parking during rush hour" zone during rush hour. On it's face, you might think, well, duh, you absolutely deserved that ticket. But, here's the thing, I was instructed to park there by a police officer. Yes, one of DC's finest told me it was okay. And, not surprisingly, I believed him. Turns out, it wasn't even remotely "okay." So, today, I went to contest the ticket.
Despite my previous experiences with the DMV, I had high hopes. Hopes that were immediately dashed. Upon arrival I was told, 1) that a penalty had been assessed for failure to pay within 30 even though it is allowable to appear for a hearing in lieu or payment within 60 days, and 2) that according to the computer, I was not a registered owner of the vehicle and needed Kenny's power of attorney to proceed. I left, dejected, and feeling annoyed that I had been so foolish as to think today's errand would be any different than my last visits. But, I was determined. I walked the 8 blocks back to the car, retrieved our registration card which listed me as an owner and returned. This time, success! And even more miraculous, fewer than 30 minutes later, I was seated in a hearing room waiting for my turn to address the examiner. And, most miraculous of all, he listened to my story and dismissed both the ticket and the penalty. Just like that. Okay, so not just like that because I have left out a whole bunch of frustrating details about this whole episode. But, instead of $200 in tickets and penalties, listening to the police officer only cost me $14 for the parking garage and 3 hours of my time.
The lesson here is not that police officers should not be listened too, because they should be, or that the DMV has improved, because it hasn't. It is instead that I need to have a more positive attitude. The system is antiquated and inefficient, but I persevered and prevailed. The police officer led me astray, but he is only human. Parking garages in DC are expensive, but so is everything else and there are lots of great benefits to living here -- the local government notwithstanding. Walking 32 blocks in near freezing temperatures is never ideal, but a little exercise is good for the body and the soul. Miracles happen in my life all the time. Small miracles and sometimes even really big ones. And, I need to recognize them and be grateful.
That is my resolution for 2011, to look for and acknowledge miracles. They're there. In the red stains on white shirts that disappear with a little pre-treating, in the empty parking spaces in the perfect place at the perfect time, in the DMV adjudicators that trust your word, even without any proof. I know God doesn't care if my whites are perfectly white, but I do know He wants me to be happy. And these things that I'm calling miracles do just that. Henceforth, I am resolved to embrace the happiness that comes from miracles, of any sort.