It’s your ol’ buddy, Sir Digby, once again. If you remember Part 1, I was about to have a delicious lunch, when I realized I still had a t-shirt with a certain grinning politician that needed to be introduced to the world at large. As I was working on getting the finishing touches of my last article complete, I had a lot on my mind: Where would I go to showcase Gropin’ Joe? How would my first article be received, and, when? Did I just sleep funny, or is that a more serious pain?
Well, my article went up, and I was very happy with the reception (TYVM). I was actually doing work-related training on the day it posted, so, I wasn’t on my regular night shift. I’m not much of a sunlight person, so, I was a bit out of sorts that day, but, very glad it went up in the evening time. I found out that participating in comments about your own article is…strange. Even more so when there are Dem presidential debates going on. Ultimately, it was all good. Although, I will say, some of you seemed like you were hoping I got my ass kicked. In a purple H&H shirt. E tu, glibe?
As it turns out, my schedule that week allowed me to take care of some business that I was not only dreading, but, that I knew would take forty forevers. You guessed it: I had to renew my driver license. If you recall, in my first article, I made a side joke about not going to the DMV in the H&H shirt. Doing so never really crossed my mind, even though I knew I had to do the renewal dance.
Much like Carousel, I wasn’t sure that I would come out of my trip to the DMV office alive. OK; that’s, maybe, a little heavy-handed. However, my previous experiences cause me to view a trip there like I would a trip to the unemployment office—the dregs of humanity, along with some unfortunate souls (like me) having to wade through the dark sea of government bureaucracy. I’ve spoken of my love for my Texas on several occasions. I also warn that, as much of a reputation that the state has earned for possibly being “Wild West” in our collective outlook, we actually do love us some government. More than we should and, more than you might think, if you’ve never been here. Almost 50 years of this, and I continue to be amazed and bothered by it. Technically, I’m a government employee, too, so I see it from inside and out. It’s just that I’m trained to move a little faster in completing my tasks.
I will now try to build you a picture of all this (without my own photos). Driver license offices in Texas—technically, Texas Department of Public Safety-Driver License Division—are at least as much a pain as whatever your state has. There has always been a wait for customers, if you had to go in to one of the offices.
Even with online renewals, it’s a crap-fest, since DPS requires that you come in on every other renewal. Renewed online last go-round? Congrats! You get to climb on the hamster wheel! I think renewing your Texas CHL is less a pain in the ass, even when you have to re-qualify. At least then, you can pretend the target is IN NO WAY a bureaucrat, or, a state employee…::ahem::
At some point, the powers that be decided that they would give “mega centers” a shot. Essentially, a really big driver license office, based in larger metropolitan areas. I happen to be less than six miles from one of these beasts, so, it was the obvious choice. I had to research online to see where, exactly, it’s located, as I have been by the supposed area many times, and never saw the building. Big mistake. Just look at the Yelp pictures for this very location:
What the hell was I getting myself into? No—what the hell was I being forced into by the State of Texas? It turns out that, at these mega centers, you can get in line online. According to my supervisor, it has to be done right at opening, regardless of where you are. Of course, when I get online at 7:01 in the a.m., the appointment time wasn’t until almost 2:30. But, I needed to stay up for about 24 hours this particular day, so, why not??
As fate would have it, I was there less than 30 minutes. This includes registering as “arrived” at a computer kiosk, sitting for less than 10 minutes, then, getting ushered with a couple of other people to start a new line away from the others. I was actually sitting down with a clerk in less than 15 minutes. “What? My application? Ack!” I had forgotten to fill one out (FML). The clerk gave me a sort-of sideways glance (was it because of Gropin’ Joe’s visage?), and, with that, handed me a blank form (Go Joe!). I even had my official Texas Driver License picture taken in “the shirt”, and was on my way soon after.
Huh…that was really a big nothing-burger. I think I’m beginning to see a trend with my wearing of these shirts: Other than quick glances at the design, no one was saying squat.
I was going to have to come up with another outing with Gropin’ Joe to complete the experiment, and, I came up with what I figured would be the crowning jewel of this thought experiment. Thing is, I’ve started having monthly dinner-and-coffee meet-ups with a life-long friend/former LE co-worker who has a very libertarian disposition. He tends to joke around with wait staff, especially staff of the female variety, which might be just the ticket for an H&H merchandise discussion. On a side note, I would like to get him posting here; I think he would fit right in with the gliberati, even if he is Tulpa.
The meet-up Saturday rolled around, and we got started a couple of hours earlier than usual. I explained the social experiment aspect of my attire, and what I would be watching for while we were out. He was on-board with my quasi-plan, and, after discussing possibly playing some pool, we decided that the standard places were a fine choice after all, and we headed out for delicious Tex-Mex. But, wouldn’t you know it–our normal Mexican food hang-out was packed, so, we settled on some Mongolian stir-fry.
I hadn’t been to Genghis in a while, and this place always seems to be re-inventing some portion of itself. The hostess was a real pistol, and was willing to joke with my friend, as he started his banter. This would end up being the most promising point in the night for an interaction over my apparel. And, by that, I mean, I am almost positive that she saw my shirt, and was sharing in my friend’s humor a bit. Beyond that? Nada. The meal was good, but, my friend was so exhausted from his week’s work that he didn’t even want to eat. It was also busy enough that we weren’t going to delve too deeply into our usual conversations in the restaurant, so I finished up my bowl, and we headed off to the coffee house.
Presuming you don’t know, Café Brazil is a coffee house/diner with (wait for it…) a Brazilian flair. Their food has always been middlin’ to excellent, but, we just come for the endless coffee cups. They usually set out three or so of their blends, their unleaded counterparts, and dairy-based additives. My friend, being a smoker, prefers to sit outside on what passes for their patio. I’m OK with this, even if it is a Texas Summer, although I was a bit worried about our earlier starting time this evening.
It had actually cooled down quite a bit by the time we arrived and took our seats. I mean, it doesn’t really “cool down” in a North Texas Summer, but, this was tolerable. We had our usual discussion about family, work, and just how effed up people are vis-à-vis government power, especially in the realm of law enforcement. Of course, talk like that is inherently boring, and in no way should there be any website that deals in such what builds and strengthens friendships, and I highly recommend that you try it sometime!
Well, the foot traffic was rather light that evening. One of the better things about sitting outside is to see the parade of people without being so close that you inherently get pulled in to any stranger drama, or, having them drawn into yours. This particular location just happens to be a couple of miles from Southern Methodist University. For those in the know, or, who’ve ever been around an American university in a Southern state*, you can probably envision the types that make their way into said coffee-diner. Depending on particulars, my friend has been known to engage with some of these strangers. However, the combination of multiple factors, not the least of which was the dearth of interesting candidates, meant that no friendly banter would be forthcoming this night.
*What’s that? “That image would apply to just about any American university, Sir Digby”, you say? Meh…I don’t get out much.
As you might have guessed, it wasn’t long after this rather humid evening that I received my oh-so-precious license. Since I went into the endeavor with a purpose other than staying ‘street-legal’, I have to say that I’m rather happy with the final product:
OK—only the collar is visible. She’s not Ansel Adams, so I’m not going to down her for that. It was, overall, not a bad experience; much better than the visions that played in my imagination prior to the appointment. I got my permission from my benevolent overlords to convey myself on the motorways, and it only cost me $25. Woo. Hoo.
So; there you have it. The shirts got some quick glances, but generated no conversations. I’m not the most approachable person; I’m no Mr. Suave, to be sure. I did, however, have a pretty wide swath of potential victims, er… takers in my travels, and I would think that I would have had at least just one person express curiosity. But, noooooo! Not these unsophisticated yokels! And, let me assure you: I bathed prior to each outing, so it wasn’t my natural funk driving the masses away. Nor was it the shirts themselves: They are definitely high-quality products, and you, too, can pick up a couple over at www.redbubble.com/people/cprm/. If you’re looking for a comfy, snazzy shirt that supports a fellow glib, and a minimum amount of interactions with strangers is your preference, I highly recommend. My shirts are currently hanging up; freshly laundered, and waiting for their turn in the rotation. If I manage to generate any conversations with either of them, I’m sure I’ll let you all know.
Maybe I’ll take Crusty Juggler with me on the next outing…