My sister and I were at the Elbert County “DMV” yesterday (which is basically one building that houses ALL of the governmental agencies, probably including the one necessary jail cell). There were two employees and about fifteen people waiting in line to register their vehicles; one gentlemen even came from Callahan, which is little over an hour to register his farm equipment. Everyone wore grease-stained Wranglers and soiled work boots. Some ladies had obviously spent a good amount of time putting on their fake eyelashes while others walked in with puffy eyes.
When I go to the Douglas County DMV, there are about ten tellers and about fifty people waiting in line. One time, I went and there was a Rabbi and a Buddhist monk. And, of course, everyone is sitting, uncomfortably, every other chair, playing on their cellphones, moaning and groaning about the wait.
The experience at the Elbert County “DMV” was very different. For one, the two tellers knew most of the people registering their vehicles and engaged in friendly conversation about “oh, how is your daughter doing? did your neighbor finally clean out his gutters?”. One guy forgot his insurance card in his truck, so she let him run out to get it (whereas at the Douglas County DMV, you would have to run to your car and get back at the end of the line). While we were waiting in line, we made many friends. Instead of everyone scrolling through their old text messages, the people waiting in line engaged in conversation, and that conversation was directed at all fifteen of us who were waiting in line (in fact, my sister and I were the only ones who had our cell phones out and one gentlemen told us a story about a guy who got on some form of public transportation, waved a gun around, and ended up shooting someone outside–but everyone was busy on their phones that they didn’t even notice him). The men we spoke with were all welders, farmers, mechanics, big riggers, etc. and they began exchanging services with each other (to which, I started wondering, what the value of MY job in society is; I have a really, nice, fancy “college degree” but all I do is come up with ideas and if the world ever ended, I would be SCREWED–I can’t even put a nail on the back of a picture frame apparently).
There is something to be said about small town life. I am suburban girl with small town roots who went to a large university. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself “an expert” in living in any of these environments, but I do love seeing how other people live. Of course, all environments have their benefits and drawbacks. Some of the people in the Elbert County DMV looked incredibly poor–we were talking to one lady about going to the matinee movie (yes, we are Dutch, so we are very cheap indeed) and, when we asked her if she had ever been, I could see the longing and pain in her face. We watched a very young pregnant teenager waddle down the hall with her mother in clothes that did not fit properly. A Lenny-from-Of-Mice-And-Men character sat outside, discussing how he broke his tooth a few weeks ago and is waiting to get it fixed (in suburbia, we would have been in emergency oral surgery had that happened).
I think, as suburbanites/city folk, we have a tendency to be caught in the rush of our own lives; our kids HAVE to be involved in every single activity, we MUST have the latest and greatest technology and nicest cars, our jobs NEED to be prestigious/make lots of money, that we forget what life is supposed to be about: enjoyment. And, something I have noticed about suburbia is that we all try to be THE EXACT SAME. The girls all have the same exact hair cut/hair color (at one time, it was dark with side swept bangs, another time it was platinum blonde). The boys all wear the same clothes (now, it is bro tanks, gym shorts, tall socks, and sandals). We all want our kids to be in the same activities, the same classes, have the same friends. We all listen to the same music and do the same things on the weekends. We live in the same cookie cutter houses. We do whatever we can to stifle our individuality and be whatever the status quo asks.
All in all, I enjoyed my experience at the Elbert County DMV: everyone was friendly, no one was in a hurry, and as my sister and I jumped in my mud-covered Corolla, we laughed that they probably thought of us as big-city-snooties.