Pouring rain.

Yes, I waited until the last day of February to get my permanent car tags. And, I go at the end of the day, which I hear is smart.

Um.

Just not on the last day of the month.

I’m not in a particularly good mood when I drive up to the building with all the hundreds of other people looking for a parking space with limited spaces in the torrential downpour. To make this trek even more interesting, the roof of my “new to me” convertible is leaking…on my lap…and down my arm.

Great.

I was about to give up, no spaces, lots of vultures disguised as cars, waiting for any space. I’m not upset, but I feel numb. Whatever. I’ll go tomorrow. Who cares if I get a ticket with expired tags. Yet something tells me to stick it out.  Then, in a flash, I find a spot. I go inside, and the lines are the longest I’ve ever seen.

And, what a shock, no one looks happy.

I get in the longest line, and start studying. I can count on DMV for getting my studying in. I creep along in this long line, and slowly, ever so slowly, approach the counter. I see the face of the person who is about to help me. He looks tired and irritated. I’m sure this will be an unpleasant exchange.

AH HA!

I’m suddenly aware in that moment, I just created a piece of fiction about someone I don’t even know. And, that I’m letting my circumstances (unhappy people at DMV) dictate how I be (unhappy).  I mean, if Nelson Mandela can be at peace and present to decades of being locked up in prison, I think I can handle a long line, unhappy people, and a leaky car at the Maryland DMV.

I approach the counter, the man behind the counter rubs his face and sighs….a long day, huh? I say. He nods and I smile. I’m sure you’re glad this day is almost over, I say. He takes a breath in and I hand him my paperwork. Even with a document missing he gives me the sacred piece of paper that allows me access to Phase 2 of my DMV journey. Which is another long wait.

I stand there, in a sea of people, waiting. Waiting to see their number flashing, waiting to hear their number. I look around, still, no one seems happy. I listen as I study, hear conversations in Spanish, English, and other languages. No one sounds or seems happy, some analyzing when their number will come up, you know, the predictable DMV conversations. None particularly interesting, just chatter.

Then I get it…again. In the middle of unhappy people, tired DMV employees, I can choose how I be. I can join the unhappy energetic, or I can be okay with all of it.  My body relaxes in this recognition, and then I choose to smile, even when my surroundings seem to be telling me to join the frowns and the frustrations.  The man who helped me earlier comes out from behind the counter, sees me, and says “You’re the only one in this place smiling!” But, now he was, and I said why not? He laughs.

My number is finally called. The woman who greets me is surprisingly not smiling. I say something about stress of a long day with lots of people, and she nods. I hand her my card, her eyes light up, smiles, and she says she’s heard about acupuncture. I say, if you’re stressed, come see me. She thanks me, and I’m off, new tags in hand, less money in my bank account, a wet car interior. But regardless of my circumstances, I am well, all is well, people are smiling at the DMV and, so am I.