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The French may have invented red tape…

But it seems South Carolina has perfected it.

My task what for the morning was simple. I needed to get a SC drivers license. I looked online, knew where the building was, knew what time it opened (or so I thought), knew what documents I needed (again, what do I know?), found them as best I could, and was ready to make this as short a trip as possible. My mom took Avonlea for the day, so even that wouldn’t be a hassle, (or so I thought.)

I got to the DMV 45 minutes after they opened, only to find out that I was fifteen minutes early. They don’t open till 9:30 on Wedneday’s. Not a big deal, until they lady came around passing out paperwork for folks like me who were getting a new license. She asked me if I had my birth certificate. Nope – wasn’t one of the required documents online. What about a passport? Nope, didn’t have that either, because again it wasn’t required online and to my knowledge, northwest Rock Hill isn’t, at least today, a place where one needs a passport to visit. So I drove home to prove that I was born in the USA.

By the time I returned about 40 minutes later, the DMV was considerably busier, and I hate to wait several minutes in line just to check in. The gentleman asked me for my various documents, and concluded that I did not have sufficient evidence to prove that I lived in South Carolina. My first thought was and still is, who would lie about living in South Carolina? When asked, I still tell people I live in Charlotte, and if they press me anymore I mumble and say, “well, really just south of Charlotte.” But I suppose it could happen. The problem is, none of the bills are in my name. Donnette is the one with the job, so naturally we set everything up through her. The fact that she’s my wife is irrelevant. I have bills with my name on them, but they weren’t the right kind of bills, and so, after talking to the assistant manager and then the manager, I was left to make another trip, this time to the bank, so that I could properly prove that I am indeed a resident of the Palmetto State.

I used an app on my phone to find the nearest Bank of America, only to find out that it had taken me to an ATM – not what I was looking for. I ended up driving to the other side of town, got the proper paperwork and headed back, a third time, to the DMV, accidentally cutting a woman off in the process and receiving the familiar one fingered salute for my efforts. Had she known where I was heading, perhaps she would have saved herself the trouble. I returned to the DMV a third time, only to find it busier than ever, checked in, and began my wait.

This last spring I taught the senior high youth at our church about the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5. One of the big emphasis’ (What is the plural of emphasis? Emphasise? I can say it, but not spell it!) of my class was that the fruit of the Spirit is a singular fruit, meaning that they all manifest themselves equally and in the same proportion. In other words, you love as much as you have joy, and you’re as faithful as you are gentle. You don’t get to bulk up in one before you move on to the other. The problem is, patience is on that list, probably to remind us that we aren’t doing as well at manifesting these fruits as we’d like to think we are. So this morning, before I even left the house, I found myself praying, Lord, manifest patience in me, manifest patience in me, it is your fruit, and I want to, need to live a Spirit-led life. In typing this, I’m not trying to make anyone who reads this uncomfortable who may not have prayed that prayer this morning…I knew where I was headed and what could be in store for me when I woke up this morning. I should probably pray that prayer every day, but thankfully, consistency is not a fruit of the Spirit, so I’ll let it slide for now…

If this were a truly great story, I’d have some crazy ending for you, but that’s not the case. Even though the DMV was busy, they moved quickly and I only waited about 20 minutes before my number was called. (I have a well tested theory on waiting rooms that I’m almost ready to declare a law, but this post is getting long so I’ll save that for another time.) After the woman who took my paperwork doubted whether or not the bank statement would be sufficient, I almost let the fruit of the Spirit go in favor of a different, perhaps less godly tactic, but thankfully it was fine and less than 40 minutes after I’d arrived, I had my new driver’s license in hand. I picked up Donnette for lunch to celebrate, and in relating this story to her, she said that this was probably good preparation for dealing with the French bureaucracy. 

I agreed, but thought to myself, “yeah, but at least Provence is a place I’d want to lie about living in…”

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3 thoughts on “The French may have invented red tape…

  1. Hi! Love the blog, guys, an I’m so excited about what’s ahead for the Brock family! So cool to see God’s work in your lives. Loved the post, too. Donnette makes a good point, I’m sure! My only knowledge of French bureaucracy comes from Julia Child’s My Life in France – maybe thing have changed a bit in the last 60 years! Best wishes!

  2. Yes, definitely sounds like good preparation for living in France. Except that here at the Prefecture in Marseille (that’s where you go if you’re a foreigner, and it’s right next to the French DMV) they’ve finally gotten smart and hired policemen to do crowd control and prevent unpleasantries. I guess nobody, regardless of their nationality, likes waiting!

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