Judging from the news, the state’s licensing system has had some kinks since they replaced the old computers with Speak & Spells. Mailed requests for new tabs take forever, and besides, it’s a pain: You have to find a stamp, and you can never find a stamp anymore. It’s like opening a drawer expecting to find a horseshoe nail. Well, better to go the grocery store and buy some stamps, and then go to the post office and buy some beans.
Or you can go to a service center, as long as you’re not intimidated by all the stories about delays — you know, the woman who arrived shortly after learning that she was pregnant and ended up giving birth there because she didn’t want to give up her place in line.
Nonetheless, I decided to take my chances. But I went prepared. Here’s what you’ll need.
• A supply of dried food, including pemmican, hardtack and oranges to prevent scurvy.
• A cellphone charger, of course, so you can keep in touch with your loved ones and make sure they do not forget the sound of your voice.
• A long novel. I recommend “Origin” by Dan Brown, a thriller from the “Da Vinci Code” guy. When you finish a page, tear it out and pass it down the line. You’ll be the first to know how it ends, and you can stand up and say, “Anyone want to know how this stupid thing ends?” And everyone will groan, “Yes, oh, please, yes, reading this book is like eating lead chips.”
• A stash of caffeine pills, in case you actually get a number at 9 a.m. and need to be alert when it’s called at 4:59 p.m.
Thus equipped, I headed to the service center in the basement of the Hennepin County Government Center, expecting the place to look like a Paris train station the night before the Nazis moved in. There was no line at the information center, and a cheerful lady waved me over.
“Do you have your insurance number?” she asked. “It goes here.” She pointed to a blank spot on the form. “You can fill it out over there but you’d better hurry because they’re going to call your number.”
I hastened to the desk and started writing numbers — and halfway through there was a “bong” from the speakers. My number was called. I had been in the room for 45 seconds, and I was already being served.
I’ve never been out of there faster. Good thing I didn’t mail the form in, because the tabs wouldn’t have arrived in time and my wife would have blamed me for procrastinating. Or she would have been pulled over, and the cop would have said, “You have postage stamps on your plates.” And she would have said her husband thought it was a smart move.
The stamps say “Forever.” No more annual renewals!