In North Carolina you don’t register your car and get your license in the same place, and you must have a license in order to register your car. So last Thursday I went to NCDMV to get my license and get this whole “legally living in North Carolina” thing going. James made it sound like it would take me 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it was the Thursday before school started, so I was surrounded by 17-year-olds and their parents waiting to get my license. Fortunately, I had brought a book (a biography on Cicero if you must know).
I sat down before the DMV clerk, an older gentleman who had the typical look of a guy who’s spent his entire life behind a desk. He checked that I had all my paperwork, and then started the process of getting my license set up. After a moment, he asked, “If a king sits on gold, who sits on silver?”
I cast my brain around for possible answers, and finally guessed Elvis.
“No,” said the clerk, “The Lone Ranger. Hi ho, Silver, away!”
I laughed politely and said that I’d have to remember that.
He told me two more jokes in succession, and at the end of those two I realized that they were both religious based. Not that that is a bad thing. Since I was raised Christian, I can appreciate Christian humor. My favorite Christian joke is the one about the painter that thinned his paint.
“I get those jokes from [a morning radio preacher],” said the clerk. “His segment is only half an hour long, but you really learn a lot from it.”
“Yeah, I appreciate pastors who can add historical context to their sermons.”
The man nodded. “It’s weird,” he said. “When the Rapture happens, most people will disappear. The ones who go to heaven and the ones who go to Hell will be gone. It’s only the people who are still on the fence who will be left behind.” Then he asked me if I had ever read the Left Behind series. I said no. He was astonished. Those books changed his life, he said. They were so realistic, which was surprising, considering that those events wouldn’t happen for another two years.
“In 2016?” I asked, because those books were written over a series of several years.
“In 2016,” he said.
I swallowed my tongue to keep from saying anything. Admittedly I have never read the Left Behind series. But I have read a lot about the series — the fact that characters who are Saved become completely unsympathetic, the odd morals and ethics of the protagonists and narrator, the weird treatment of women compounded by an odd blackmail plot, and the in-shape main character getting winded just by walking two miles.
The clerk started rattling off all the things in the Left Behind series that had come true. I don’t remember all of them, because other than that one afternoon where I was curious I literally do not give a flying fart about the Left Behind series. The one that he said stuck out to me was “a disease where you feel like you’re dying but you don’t actually die.”
That sounded like a lot of diseases. The flu. A bad stomach ache. Depression. Sleep deprivation.
“Guess which one it is,” said the clerk.
I guessed Ebola because at least it’s topical.
“Bed bugs,” he said. He had a gotcha! look on his face.
“Oh yeah,” I said. I have literally read one article on bed bugs. I don’t really know a whole lot about them. I was wondering when he was going to be done with my paperwork so I could get my license taken care of. I had been expecting an in-and-out errand, and hadn’t had lunch yet. I wondered if there were any restaurants in this block.
But bed bugs apparently fit the symptoms of the disease described in the Left Behind book. He went on and on about how the Left Behind was predicting things coming true, and my mind wandered between wanting to remind him that the Left Behind books were fiction and wondering where I was going to get lunch.
Finally my paperwork was done, and I had to sign something.
“Oh, do you want to register to vote?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“What party? Republican, Democrat, or Independent?”
I tossed Independent and Democrat around in my head and settled on Democrat.
He shook his head. “I tried to save you,” he said.
I decided that this was a good time to point out that the appointment book on his desk had the word poop written on it.
I went to Jimmy John’s for lunch.