International Women's Day at the MVD
"Now serving 290 at counter number 9," said the electronic voice that had been systematically calling out numbers and locations over the last 90 minutes we had been sitting there. My daughter and I looked at each other. We were being called to the same window and same teller as yesterday.
Now, let me quickly flash back to yesterday. We had started the afternoon in high spirits. I had taken off of work early, we had checked the website, and armed with all the documents listed, we headed out to get my daughter's provisional driver's license. It was to be a day of milestones, for me, as much as for her.
When we were finally called to the window, we pushed our papers through the 2 inch slit. Reviewing our documents, the woman behind the glass told us, "This bank statement can't be used." Trying to prove residency for a 15 1/2 year old isn't easy, and the acceptable documents must include name, address, and be less than 60 days old. The bank only prints statements quarterly and it was over the limit.
Frustrated, I pulled up the bank statement on my phone. No good. We showed her an online report card. No address listed. . . doesn't count. I had her passport, social security card and a half dozen other documents with me, but all to no avail. I appealed to speak to the supervisor. The woman walked away, only to return moments later saying "He's on the phone, but he said no. You can wait if you want." With smoke blowing out of my ears and my daughter's disappointment welling in her eyes, we walked out of the MVD defeated.
So, as the realization washed over us that we were to face this same woman again, I admit that I cringed and worried about the outcome of our 2nd attempt. Sitting down together on one chair (there is only one) we both faced the glass. Again, I pushed the papers through. This time however, I looked through the widow and moving closer to the hole through which to communicate said, "I'm sorry that I was rude and angry with you yesterday. Will you please forgive me?" Looking up, she simply said, "It's ok, I deal with this all day."
It struck me that while we were on the "exciting" side of the window, looking to get a document that would allow my daughter to drive solo, there she was, on the other side, having to take the abuse of dozens of people each day, simply for doing her job and following regulation.
I hadn't paid much attention to the International Women's Day campaign, but something about our situation caused me reflect on it for a moment. When it was all said and done, two out of three women finished the day with a sense of freedom and accomplishment. My daughter can now drive without a parent. I no longer have to drive my daughter everywhere. But, for the lady behind the glass, she has to go back and sit, day after day, taking the abusive comments and frustrated gestures, all for simply doing her job.
Part of the language used on the International Women's Day website reads "Call on the masses or call on yourself to forge a better working world. . ." I take responsibility for my action in how I originally dishonored this woman and contributed to a very unpleasant work environment. I am thankful that I got an opportunity to make amends. So, now addressing the "masses", I wanted this to serve as a reminder that we all have the choice to be a light, or further perpetuate the darkness.
Shine on my friends, shine on.