The DMV

Dear Molly Matthews, It's been nearly a week since we wrote and we still haven't heard from you. We understand if you are upset. Perhaps you have begun to sense that this is not the normal relationship a woman has with a municipal license and registration office. And we agree, it is different. But that does not necessarily make it wrong.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dept. of Motor Vehicles

October 2, 2004

Dear Molly Matthews,

This is a courtesy notice to inform you that your driver’s license expires on November 4, 2004. There is a two-week grace period during which you should seek renewal.

Thank you,
The Department of Motor Vehicles


November 12, 2004

Dear Molly Matthews,

We regret to inform you that a clerical error was made regarding your driver’s license renewal. Please return to the Willow Avenue Branch of the DMV as soon as possible and they will assist you in this matter.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience,
The Department of Motor Vehicles


December 3, 2004

Dear Molly Matthews,

We are pleased to inform you that we have your renewed license. Please come to the Willow Avenue Branch of the DMV to receive it. We would have mailed it, but recent security issues have led us to modify our system for individual cases.

Congratulations on your renewal,
The Department of Motor Vehicles


January 2, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Happy New Year. May 2005 be all you dreamed and hoped it would be.

Sincerely,
The Department of Motor Vehicles


January 18, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Please come by at your earliest convenience. We need to talk.

Sincerely,
The Department of Motor Vehicles


January 23, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Although some of the things we’re going through can’t be put into words, it would still be good to talk, in person. Please come by.

Sincerely,
The Department of Motor Vehicles


January 29, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

It’s been nearly a week since we wrote and we still haven’t heard from you. We understand if you are upset. Perhaps you have begun to sense that this is not the normal relationship a woman has with a municipal license and registration office. And we agree, it is different. But that does not necessarily make it wrong.

Perhaps you also sense that our requests for multiple visits by you to our facility were not entirely honest. It is true, there was no clerical error requiring a second visit. And there was no security issue requiring you to pick up your license in person. Those were simply some not-so-innocent yet perfectly harmless attempts to see you again. We needed to see you again.

When you came in to renew your license, nobody here was ready for what happened. At first we thought it might just be the lighting, or the way you were wearing your hair. But each subsequent visit has only confirmed what we felt in our hearts that day.

Like some kind of destiny, we belong together. You and all of us here in the Willow Avenue Branch of The Department of Motor Vehicles, we were meant to be together.

We came to this realization slowly, and not easily. The day after you visited, Rosanna Mendez mentioned to Larry Conners that she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about “that amazing woman.” Larry said that he knew right away who she was referring to, and that he too had been thinking about you all night. Paula Mooney said that the glimpse of you she caught as you walked away seemed like the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her life, even more beautiful than the honeymoon she spent down in Cabo, when she swam with the dolphins. Soon, the whole office was talking. It was exciting, and thrilling. Customers had to wait. Frankly, we are not used to that kind of energy here at the Department of Motor Vehicles. We decided we had to see you again.

That’s how it began.

We hope you’re not upset.

Your next two visits must have been frustrating for you. We know we made you visit with different departments and fill out many forms. We apologize. Much of the paperwork was truly unnecessary. We simply needed to be with you. Thank you for your time.

If it is any consolation, those visits were frustrating for us too. But in an entirely different way.

Now, since you have your license, it should be over. For us, though, it is far from over.

But if you can find the time to stop by, we would enjoy having lunch with you. There’s a park near the office and we could close for a while, perhaps as a part of an unscheduled fire drill, and we could all just relax, together.

We don’t want to go too fast.

In any case, it feels better to get this off our chest.

Sincerely,
Henry Pooth
Resource Manager
The Department of Motor Vehicles


February 15, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Happy Valentine’s Day. Hope you like lilies.

Sincerely,
The Department of Motor Vehicles


March 4, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Have you thought of getting a commercial driver’s license or perhaps a motorcycle license? The paperwork is quite simple, and the test is much easier than you might suspect. When you think about it, how hard can it be? Honestly, those commercial truck drivers aren’t exactly recruited from the Ivy Leagues.

As a matter of fact, Eileen, the woman who processes the motorcycle driver’s licenses, was talking about you just this morning. While stirring her non-dairy creamer into her coffee, she described a dream she had about you.

In her dream you wore black leather pants and black boots with a tight black velvet sweater, and a mask across your face. She said every time you spoke you told her the secrets that she herself was hiding from the world. She didn’t tell us what secrets these were. But she said it felt like you were at the bottom of her soul.

After Eileen was done, Miller told us that, coincidentally, he had also had a dream about you. In his dream there was a village and all the little African children in the village were sick and you came to the village in a perfectly pressed white nurse’s uniform, he described how you walked like the most sensual, beautiful angel, he said it was sort of the way Liv Tyler walks, and you lay down in the middle of the village and opened your legs and faced the sky and then all the sick African children crawled across the ground and between your legs and inside your womb. Once they were all inside, the village was empty, except for you lying there. You lay there on the ground of the village, pregnant with a huge belly that was distended from all the children, and he said you lay there not moving, just thinking with your eyes closed, for a long time.

Then, slowly, they crawled out again, one by one, perfectly healed.

I thought this was a disturbing dream. Eileen said it was the strangest dream she had ever heard. We told Miller not to mention it to anyone.

I chose not tell them about the dream I had about you. It was too much of a coincidence and they would have thought I was just making it up, like “Oh, I too had a dream about Molly.” But I did.

In my dream you kissed my naked body, and I kissed your naked body, your breasts and your belly and the softness between your legs and as we made love you smiled the sweetest, most melting smile in the world. And my dream made me believe in things like hearts and love and goodness. It was a sort of intimate dream, one that made my body shudder, and it was also sort of sentimental and corny, which is another reason why I didn’t tell Miller and Eileen about it. I just sat there tracing your name with my finger on the little table in the break room.

Sincerely,
Linda Miller
Regional Service Manager
Department of Motor Vehicles


March 8, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

A little scandal came to pass here at the Willow Avenue Department of Motor Vehicles. I thought you’d like hearing about it.

On Tuesday, about twelve Asian men came in, all at once, to get new licenses. Their paperwork was in order, everything seemed fine, but then, when we were grading the written tests, Donna and I noticed that all of them had somehow gotten the same ones right and the same ones wrong.

Well, it raised quite a predicament, which we had to solve quickly, because the men were sitting right there. Technically, we couldn’t prove they had cheated, and the way things are these days, we didn’t want to be accused of being against their culture or anything. So we ended up giving them their learner’s permits and Donna gave them a strict lecture about how you don’t get anywhere in life by cheating (which I’m not sure they understood) and we sent them on their way.

It was pretty exciting. Things like that don’t happen much around here.

By the way, I am enclosing pictures of my baby girl. Her name is Rebecca but I call her Molly for short.

Melissa Brown
Standard Testing
Department of Motor Vehicles


March 13, 2005

Dear Molly,

Spencer mentioned that your license is up for renewal in April 2008. I don’t know if I can wait that long to see you again. I know a lot of people here in the office, if not all the people, feel the same way. Spencer said he was thinking about you in the shower this morning and he started crying. That’s how much he misses you. That’s how much we all miss you.

Paul Orteda has a copy of your license photograph on the wall of his station, it’s a direct violation of policy but Margaret, his supervisor, hasn’t said anything about it. I suspect it’s because she has a picture too. Or maybe she just understands how he feels.

Gary Mootz, I don’t know if you remember him, he was the security guard you had to walk by to get to the renewal line. Anyway, the other morning when your name came up he said if anyone ever upset you or frightened you he would shoot them dead. I guess it’s good to know you have friends like that.

Thanks to the motor voter law President Clinton signed, you can now register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles. I wasn’t sure if you knew that or not.

We miss you. Perhaps it’s just spring coming on.

Sincerely,
Paula Mooney
Violations Division
Department of Motor Vehicles


March 15, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Happy Birthday!!!! We love you!!!!

Sincerely,
Your good friends at
The Department of Motor Vehicles


March 22, 2005

Dear Miss Matthews,

It is Miss, right? There is nothing in the forms to indicate that you are married. The records processing division asked me to write this to you. They chose me because I’m actually a writer. A novelist. Unpublished. Many of us have other lines of interest. Nobody says “I want to grow up and work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.” At least nobody in this office did. Some of us are here because they were just sort of adrift in the world and this seemed like a nice, secure choice. The benefits are good, better than the Post Office’s. And we have time to pursue our other passions. Lacey sings, for instance, in The Brower Pentecostal Church. And Leroy Abraham paints decoy ducks.

We know this kind of attention must be awkward for you. But now we need to request a favor. If you want us to stop writing and calling, please just ask. We will stop right away. Please do not report us or talk about this with anyone. It would be very difficult to explain. Many of us have families, it would be embarrassing. And if the state got involved, we could even lose our jobs. Melissa Brown just returned to work last month after having twins. Her husband stays at home with them. And although Melissa thinks of you with a longing and an ache that, she says, makes her bones hurt to the marrow, she’s not ready to leave her husband or anything. So, please respect us. We don’t think anyone would understand. We don’t want to harass you. Again, if you ask, we will go away.

We don’t know what this is. Most of the time we do our work just fine, but not with the same efficiency we used to. The lines have gotten even longer, a little slower. I’ll be walking by a fellow employee, like Walt Smith, and he’ll say something like “I miss her so much. So much.” That’s all that is said, but it says a lot.

Last night Stan Kline, our supervisor in Records Processing, called a meeting to assess our current performance. He didn’t pull any punches. He closed the door, rolled up the sleeves, and really let us have it. He said he understood how we feel, but it’s no excuse. He said that if efficiencies drop any more the state will get involved, there will be restructuring, and some of us will lose our jobs. He said he knows what we’re going through, nobody loves you more than he does, he described how he masturbates in the shower thinking about your body and the way he’d like to hold you and make love to you. He said he came so hard in the shower that he almost passed out. It was a pretty frank confession, and in normal circumstances it might have been a little disturbing, but we’re all in this together. That’s when someone suggested we write to you. Syd suggested Alice, because she’s a woman, but Alice, well, she’s Alice. And when Alice began describing the sorts of things she would write to you, which included a lot of graphic imagery, it was decided that my tone might be a little less threatening.

Please don’t feel threatened in any way. Though we have access to many of your records, we don’t have access to your tax records or anything that could cause you any real damage. We simply want to love you. The way the ocean waves love the shore, the way the dew loves a flower, or as Alice put it, the way a ram loves a ewe, the way a train loves a tunnel.

That’s Alice.

Sincerely,
Josh Evans
District Seven Supervisor
Records Processing
Department of Motor Vehicles

P.S. Did you know that the state earns revenue by selling addresses from the DMV to direct marketers? We took you off the record we forwarded to the state, so you should be getting a little less junk mail. You’re welcome!


April 1, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Due to an unpaid parking ticket dated 01/14/03, your license has been suspended.

Just kidding. April Fools!

Sincerely,
Your friends at
The Department of Motor Vehicles


April 23, 2005

Dear Molly,

I don’t know if you remember me. I was at the sign-in desk the first time you came into our offices. You smiled and said “Hi, where do I get a renewal form?” I showed you the pile to the left of my desk and then you said “Thanks.” Do you remember?

I know we’ve sent you a lot of stuff since then. I talked to Paula and Henry, I know what’s up. And I also know you haven’t written us back.

That makes me sad. But it’s a sadness I think I can learn from. It’s got me thinking about the Department of Motor Vehicles in general, about why nobody likes us, why we’re so unpopular. It’s not just you. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this, but nobody likes the DMV. Everybody has their reasons, they say “The guys who work there are idiots.” Or “They always want some form I don’t have.”

The funny thing is, it’s not so bad here with us. We’re pretty nice, we’re just real bored a lot of the time. If people would just smile, or make a joke, we’d smile too. I wish everybody brought a joke into the DMV, then everyone would smile. There would be laughter everywhere. Remember how nice everyone was to you the times you came in? It could be like that for everyone.

And if they didn’t bring in the right form, well, that’s not our problem. Did they blame their teacher when they didn’t do their homework?

This is a real nice place. You can meet people here, and if stuff takes a little longer than you’d like it to, hey, bring a book you always wanted to read. It’s safer than a library here. Gary Mootz is sitting right there. You probably don’t remember Mootz, he’s the security guard who sits just inside the door. He was almost a policeman once, he had some pretty serious training, and he watches the room like a hawk. So, there’s never any trouble here. I don’t think they have an armed guard at the library. So, you could curl up with a nice big book and do some reading.

I think it would be a great place to hang out even if you didn’t need a renewal or anything.

Okay, gotta go. I’ve got basketball tonight. We’re playing the guys from Transit. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to win this game! Then I’m going to kiss the basketball, bam, and dedicate the win to you!

Alright,
Paul Orteda
Registration Check-In
Department of Motor Vehicles


May 1, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

This is from an old philosophy textbook of mine,

“Nothing worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime, therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing that is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing that we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, therefore we are saved by love.”

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote that. Before I worked here I was a bartender down at the Rite Spot. I worked all night and went to college during the day, trying to earn my BA. I never got it. But I did get that quote, in a course on modern theology. And a wicked case of gonorrhea from one of the waitresses.

I thought you should know that. In case this winds up going where we all want it to go. We’ll just have to be careful.

Sincerely,
Jack Johnson
Certified Traffic Education Tester
Department of Motor Vehicles


May 21, 2005

Dear Molly,

God I want you so badly.

So, so badly.

Sincerely,
Stan Kline
Director, Records Division
Department of Motor Vehicles


May 30, 2005

Dear Molly,

The funniest thing happened today. First, at lunch Paul and Josh and I went out to Baja’s and I got like this huge carne asada burrito. It was really good!

So we come back and, you know, since it’s the afternoons I’m in charge of the driving test. So, the first guy I get, he’s all right, and then I get a woman and she’s moved here from New Mexico and she has let her license expire, so whatever, she has to take it again. She actually looked a little like you, but nowhere near as beautiful.

Then, this third kid, he’s just a young guy and it’s his second test. And I remember this kid, he failed the first test big-time when he got into some fenderbender with Jack. So this time he’s like completely nervous, all hunched forward, eyes on the road all bugging out, he’s ready to go.

So, I’m saying the usual “Take a right out of the parking lot onto Willow, take a left on Henry, take a right on Euclid.” And we get going on Euclid, where there’s no turning for a bit. We’re just driving straight ahead. And that burrito, it hit me like a giant sleeping pill. Just put me out.

And this kid, he doesn’t hear “left” or “right” And he’s too nervous to look around. So I’m fast asleep right next to him and he just keeps going. When I woke up, we were at the ocean.

Funny, right?

Anyway, after I woke up there was a minute there, with the kid stopped, staring straight ahead, all nervous, and me staring straight ahead, looking out over the concrete barrier at the big, blue sea, and we didn’t say a thing. I guess he was waiting for me to say, like, “Okay, now show me your K turn and go back down Euclid.” But I wasn’t saying anything. I was thinking about you. About you and me and the ocean.

I was thinking, you know, it’s such an enormous world, right? There are so many ways we could be happy. As many ways as there are up in heaven. We could be on a tropical island somewhere or in a big old palace. I could comb your hair and stroke your face. I could sing you songs as we lay on tiger skin rugs. I could feed you fresh berries and pour milk on your body. It could be so nice.

I remember the day when you walked past me, I was coming in from a test and you were coming out of the building. There was something in your eye, like you were already wise about everything. I was ready to follow those eyes anywhere, out across the parking lot, out across that ocean, snowy mountains, desert sands, you name it. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know everyone else felt like that too. But I can deal with that. With them or without them, as long as it’s all about loving you, girl. And I love you.

Anyway, I made the boy turn around and take us back. He was so thrown by the unscheduled trip to the ocean, he screwed up the parallel parking and I flunked his ass. What a day, crazy, right?

Sincerely,
Maria Ortiz
Certified Traffic Education Tester
Department of Motor Vehicles

P.S. Paula and I are going to watch the playoffs with some of the guys down at O’Roark’s this Saturday night. Might be a good time for you to come hang out with us.


June 2, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

You are cordially invited to a service at St. Joseph’s Cathedral on Saturday, June 12 at 10:30 a.m. to honor the memory of Gary Mootz.

There will be a reception to follow.

Sincerely,
The Department of Motor Vehicles.


June 12, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

We were very surprised not to see you at the service today. As you know, Gary was very devoted to you. Today at the ceremony someone described his love for you as one of the purest things they had ever witnessed. Another speaker said that Gary considered you a cross between the Virgin Mary and Marilyn Monroe. But I think his mother put it best when she said that though she never met you, you were like the daughter-in-law she never had.

It was quite a turnout. I didn’t know Gary that well, but I felt a bond with him, perhaps out of our mutual affection for you. I remember once coming in and seeing him sitting there, with his brown-bag lunch and the sports section folded up under his orange plastic chair, like always. But that day he looked so forlorn. “She’s never coming back, is she?” he said.

“You gotta believe.” I said. Then I gave him the old thumbs-up and a smile.

I think it’s ironic that he died of a heart attack. Is that the right word to use? Ironic? I certainly don’t think it’s funny. But it seems appropriate. Is that the right word?

Anyway, again, I’m surprised you didn’t come today. Gary may not have meant much to you, but you meant the world to him. We buried him with a xeroxed copy of your license photo tucked into his breast pocket.

Sincerely,
Henry Pooth
Resource Manager
The Department of Motor Vehicles

P.S. Gary’s mother’s number is 789-2270 if you want to talk to her. I know she would appreciate it.

P.P.S. I dreamt I took off all your clothes in a Chinese restaurant.


June 18, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

My husband Paul and I have broken up. But I just wanted you to know, it’s not your fault. Having a child put a lot of strain on a relationship that wasn’t all that stable in the first place. So the change is good. Hard but good. Little Molly and I are going to be okay. But I hope it wasn’t for nothing. It must be funny hearing this from me, because I haven’t seen or heard from you in nearly a year.

I just thought you should know.

By the way, the new eye tests came. In case you’re curious, it now goes B, V, C, next line R, T, P, third line F, Q, M, and finally W, O, D. They’re obviously trying to trick the reader with the Q and the O. Pathetic.

Anyway, I’m here for you.

Melissa Brown
Standard Testing
Department of Motor Vehicles


June 24, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Today we had an unpleasant surprise. The head of the state office came in and said that, due to notable discrepancy in efficiencies between Willow Avenue and both the Martin Street and Morgan Avenue centers, he was bringing in a new manager for Willow Avenue.

The rumor is there will be layoffs, transfers, major restructuring. Many of the people who consider you their friend will probably not be here anymore come July 1st. That’s how fast it’s going to happen.

I don’t know if I’m going to last. My last evaluation wasn’t bad, but that’s only because Margaret, my supervisor, has been a basketcase for the past nine months. If she had any idea how far behind I was in my processing, she would have canned me in April.

Our lines now go almost all the way out the door. Some people are having their temporary licenses expire before the legitimate ones show up in the mail. It’s embarrassing.

I don’t blame you for this. But we should take a break. It’s not you, it’s us. We let ourselves get carried away. We imagined you could fill a hole in our lives. You can’t. You may have beautiful eyes, you may be the perfect height, you may have a social security number that sounds like a song when it’s recited. But you are just a woman. And we are the Willow Avenue Department of Motor Vehicles. As hard as it is to face the truth, it was just never meant to be.

We want to still be friends. We want to still service your driving, identification, and voter registration needs. Anything. We’ll even come in on Saturday. Just say the words. But we’ve got to concentrate on this, we’ve got to stop getting all caught up in our fantasies. We hope you’re not upset. We still love you, we will always love you, but the city needs a responsible bureaucratic center, not a bunch of lovesick puppies.

It was really Gary’s death that started us thinking this way. But the wake-up call from state was just the kick in the rear we needed.

We hope you’re okay with this. Call us if you’re not. Call us anytime.

Sincerely,
Paul Orteda
Data Processing
Department of Motor Vehicles

P.S. Enclosed you’ll find something I bought for you last winter. I had hoped to give it to you in person someday, but it looks like that day may never come. The receipt is in there too. I don’t know if you can get the cash back, but you can exchange it for other lingerie for another three months.


September 2, 2005

Dear Molly Matthews,

Please allow me to introduce myself, I am Martin Bell, the new manager of the Willow Avenue Department of Motor Vehicles.

In looking through the files I have noticed an inordinate amount of correspondence coming from this office to your address. So far, my questions about the exact nature of your relationship to this office have not been adequately answered.

To be frank, this whole business is a little frustrating. I feel like I’m being stonewalled. I have already made significant personnel changes, but I’m prepared to make a lot more if I can’t straighten this out.

Look, I don’t mean to come off as heavy-handed. If you could kindly stop by for a brief interview next week, that would be very helpful. And don’t worry, you don’t need anything like legal representation at this point. Just come by, we’ll have a cup of coffee and chat. Eileen Walters over in motorcycle licensing brings in a pound of Starbucks every week. She makes a mean cup of coffee.

Sincerely,

Martin Bell

General Manager

Department of Motor Vehicles

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