All I want to do is drive my little car, that so bad?

Pray for me. I’m at the RMV.

Not the Rättsmedicinalverket. That RMV is the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine. This isn’t Sweden. This is Massachusetts.

It’s also not the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde. That’s the National Museum of Ethnology in the Netherlands. If you’re looking for that RMV, you’re in the wrong place.

This is the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which is called the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, almost everywhere else in the U.S., but here in (the Commonwealth of) Massachusetts, we like to hark back to an earlier era, when we had hifalutin registries, thank you very much, not just dumb old “departments.”

At the moment, I’m at the RMV office on Route 1 in Danvers, like several dozen other people. Yes, we’re all unique individuals, we all have lives of our own, but we’re bound by a common, desperate need: the need to comply with some detail in Massachusetts law that will allow us to continue operating our chosen vehicle.

In this hermetically sealed capsule of a waiting area, we’re all thinking the same thing — for some of us, it’s deeply subconscious; for others of us, it’s painfully conscious, sparking and flaring just under the surface:

I need my vehicle. Mess with my use of my vehicle, and I will kill you.

This room is a simmering cauldron of anxiety and potential rage. It’s not safe here.

Also, because it’s taking forever … Please pray for me.

I tried to do this a week ago. I went online to the RMV and navigated my way to the specific issue I needed to deal with. It might have been easier to reach the Rättsmedicinalverket. (If only I had needed a crime-victim cadaver in Stockholm, I could have scored in a minute or two. But no. This is Massachusetts. This is the RMV.)

Eventually, I figured out how to find the appointment-making page of the website, only to find out that a miracle had occurred. The day I wanted an appointment to deal with my particular issue happened to be the very day when the RMV would begin taking walk-ins for my issue. No appointment needed.

Saints be praised! I knew in that moment that I had a been a very good boy, and God was rewarding me.


I arrived at the RMV. At the door, a uniformed officer quizzed me about my intentions (he stopped short of making it an old Soviet-era movie by saying “Show me your papers”), and pointed me into a certain line. Soon I was at the window, where the staffer had just one question for me:

“Do you have an appointment?”

“No,” I replied. “The website said—”

The staffer threw up her hands, exasperated with my idiocy. “Okay. I can arrange an appointment for you. Right here. Right now.”

That was a week ago.

So here I am, today. To make the appointment she made for me a week ago. A morning appointment — yeah, baby; I’m no dummy — to get in here ahead of the crowds.

As I write, I’m in my second hour of waiting for my appointment — the firm to-the-minute appointment assigned to me personally by the staffer behind the window that I was approved to stand in the line for by the uniformed officer. All legal and accounted for. Totally legit. I’m good. I’m clean. Authorized. Certified. Verified.

But I’m still sitting here.

Looking around, I see my situation may not be so bad.

There’s a pretty nice tent city here for long-term dwellers. The price is right. And there’s a shared hotplate.

Volunteers from area churches drop in from time to time with food and clothing.

Since I arrived, one couple fell in love and got engaged.

It’s the RMV. Pray for me. Especially if you’re from one of those religious traditions with long, drawn-out prayers.

This may take a while.

Until today, Doug Brendel has lived on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Henceforth, however, it’s possible you may only be able to find him at the RMV office in Danvers, or at

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