With the wonders of the internet, however, I was able to fill out forms and upload documents ahead of my appointment this time. Once inside the building, however, I became disoriented at the scores of windows, staffers, screens, and waiting lines. The security guard came up to me with a smile: “Father, check your number on that screen and wait in that area to be called.” I was touched by his kindness and gladly took a seat.
When my number came up I moved to window 27. The clerk said to me “good morning, father,” providing a kindly chat while processing my documents. “God bless you” he called out as I left the window. I returned the blessing.
My next stop was “Camera B,” at which an officious woman was trying her level best to move the line quickly. She called out to me when my turn came, “next—step right up to the camera.” She seemed agitated, but as we talked, and I bantered a bit, she softened up. “What church are you at, father?” I told her Star of the Sea at 8th and Geary. “Oh, I’ve been past that church many times, but never stopped in. Are you open? Do you have Masses? I haven’t received Holy Communion since last March.” I assured her we were open with three daily Masses, and looked forward to seeing her sometime. “I’ll be there,” she chirped. “See you soon, father!”
All three of these good people are, from the perspective of the state, cogs in the vast machinery of the city. One would not expect any sense of transcendence from one doing such a mundane job. But all three seemed delighted to see a man of the cloth. They seemed reassured that God had not abandoned them, after all, even in the depths of the DMV. These seemed relieved. And their relief relieved me. Beneath the layers of the all-consuming state, God is present and we are human beings, made in His image, not merely cogs in a machine.