Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Take a Number

The other day, I went to the Revenue Department to license my vehicle. I walked in, took a number, and sat down. I looked at my number -- 35 -- then looked up at the display -- 22. Well, I was in for a wait.

Quite a few people came in after me, getting their numbers, looking at the board, grimacing, and then sitting down in resignation. The numbers were called slowly. 24 . . . 27 . . . 29 . . .32 . . .33 . . .

I saw another man come in, get his number, and then sit down.

34! the woman called. 34! No one moved. 35! she said, and I got up and started toward the counter. But so did the man who'd just walked in, and he beat me there. I hesitated as he laid his number on the counter. The woman said, "Sir, we are on number 35 and you have number 52."

"What do I do?" he asked.

"You sit back down and wait until we call your number," she replied, very kindly. He went back to his seat, she gave me a confused smile, and began to process my license transfer.

About two minutes later, the clerk next to us finished with her customer and called out the next number. 36! she announced.

Yep. You guessed it. The same man got up and came to the counter and handed her his number. "Sir," the woman said hesitantly, "we are on number 36 and you have number 52."

"What do I do?" he asked.

"You go sit back down and wait until we call number 52," she explained. Back to his seat he went, and both clerks and I exchanged confused, even embarrassed, smiles.

I left before the next number was called, but I can't help but wondering if that poor man came to the counter the next sixteen times they called out a number.


Ash said...

If he didn't get it after two times...I'm guessing that clerk really earned her money that day.

Jonathan G. Reinhardt said...

More likely, his ploy worked and an exasperated clerk let him skip ahead after the third or fourth time while the people whose turn it was looked on, too Southern and polite to do more than shake their heads and smile with gritted teeth.

lisa b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lisa b said...

Since we're in The South, I'll just have to say it.

"Bless his heart."