The woman at the license and vehicle registration office in Lambeth should not be working with the public. Every time I have an encounter with her she succeeds in making me feel like a second class citizen. On three different occassions I’ve walked out of that office feeling angry, confused and inadequate.
Shaune suggested this last time that perhaps she is racist. It’s a hard thing to determine. There was a middle-aged white man in there at the same time and she seemed to like him just fine. With me she was curt and in one instance down right nasty.
Four months ago I went in there to change the name on my license to my married name. From calling ahead I knew to come prepared with a copy of my marriage certificate. Without even greeting me, she took one look at the document and shoved it back at me.
"We need the original copy." she said without a smile or apology.
"Really? No one told me it had to be the original." I argued.
She stretched her mouth into a straight line across her face and gave me the slightest shrug. I felt as if someone had slapped me. If I was an animated version of myself, steam would have poured out of my ears. I marched out to the car fists clenched and told Shaune that I never wanted to come to that particular office again even if it was the most convenient location.
But life gets busy and on the one day during the week we can run errands, driving across town to do something we can do in half the time somewhere closer makes sense.
So again I found myself facing this dreadful woman. I politely stated my business and before the words have had time to leave my lips she slapped a form in front of me and asked:
"Have you filled this out yet?"
"Of course not!!" I wanted to shreak, "I just got here!" Instead I shook my head. She deftly circled the areas I would need to address and shoved it at me simultaneously indicating that I should move on down the line to where the next clerk would help me.
"Thank you!" I said loudly with mock sincerity.
Friday was the three month expiry of the temporary license. A few weeks ago when I still hadn’t received my new license I called this same licensing office to see what was going on. They instructed me to wait until the temporary license had expired and then come in to that office and they would both issue me a new one and call the Ministry of Transportation to get an update.
So that’s just what I did this morning. I have a terrible cold and had no energy to even straighten my hair. I threw on a baseball cap and drove the ten minutes to Lambeth and of course was greeted by this same woman. I again politely explained my dilemma and before I could get the entire narrative out she asked me if my address was the same. Confused I said it is my name that had changed. She stopped what she was doing, turned to me and said in the most obnoxious and condescending manner:
"WE NEED TO KNOW IF IT WAS SENT TO THE WRONG ADDRESS."
Stunned, I mumbled "Oh, okay yes same address."
She gave me a look that said that she found it very difficult communicating with someone like me. She hurriedly gave me instructions again and when finished with my business I walked out of there angry and disoriented. What was wrong with this woman? How did she just get away with treating me like this again? Why had her behaviour struck me dumb? Usually I am outspoken when I am being mistreated.