F27? Bingo! · 25 June 2016

I know there is no “F” in BINGO, but I felt like shouting, “BINGO!” when our number was called.

Our youngest son, Thing 3, and I were in the department of licensing to get his learner’s permit the other day. Just getting the permit is enough to cause anybody anxiety and angst. After all, it means our baby is growing up. But that anxiety and angst were replaced by annoyance and boredom while waiting in line to get the important driver’s permit.

(I actually looked online before we went and saw some negative comments about the particular place we went, but as far as I was concerned, it was unwarranted. The wait was long, but the people were nice and helpful.)

The first thing we did was a little preprocessing at the front door. Tell your name, show your I.D. (since Thing 3 already had an I.D., we did not need to show his birth certificate), get a ticket (ours was F27). Then, after the preprocessing, we took a seat and waited.

And waited. And waited.

While we were waiting, I noticed something different about the ticket number. The tickets were not like the self-serve take a ticket system of old. Like I said, they had a preprocessing process. That process must have categorized us into people who needed different services. Those different services got different numbers, like E335 or R12. I am not sure what the Es and Rs designated (there is no “E” or “R” in BINGO either, by the way), but it seemed that all the Fs were kids getting permits. Or people of any age getting permits. They were all accompanied by parents or some other person. Somebody who presumably drove them there.

There was an electronic reader board up toward the front of the room, which had seven or eight processing stations, a walled off area with computers for testing, and about a hundred seats for waiting. The place was not packed when we got there, but it was pretty full. The reader board showed that two or three people were at stations getting helped. E-something and R-something. No Fs at the counter. I finally saw an F number after about half an hour or so. F20. Woo hoo! Only seven more Fs to go. Who knew how many Es and Rs were between all those Fs, but we were making it toward the front of the line.

But we kept waiting.

After about an hour, we still had only gotten through a couple more Fs (which was how I figured out what the F designation meant). I looked around and there were quite a few of the kids and their parents still waiting. Other Fs. Then, a new set came and sat in front of us. The youngster had a smart phone and showed his father that it was an estimated hour and twenty minute wait. They had just gotten there, but the father just shrugged and smiled. Oh well.

I asked Thing 3, “What time did we get here?”

We had some back and forth conversation, but neither of us really knew. Then, I looked at the ticket. We had been there almost an hour. According to the kid in front of us, we only had about twenty minutes to go. Maybe even less. The clock still ticked.

I got a little excited. I even told Thing 3 that he ought to jump up and yell, “Bingo!” when our number got called. He smiled a bit, but said no. Then, I suggested that I would do it. He was not amused. But I was. I was getting excited. F22, F23, and F24 were called in quick succession (if over ten or fifteen minutes is quick). F21 must have been called too, but it was probably while I was having the harebrained idea.

We waited for whatever was left of those last twenty minutes. “Now serving F25.” Would we make it to the approximate wait time? “F27!” They missed a number but I was excited. “Bingo!” I jumped up and shouted. I even did a little victory dance. Unfortunately, Thing 3 died of embarrassment and all the wait was for naught. It was quite the bummer.

Okay, the shout, jumping, and dying never actually happened. However, I did say “Bingo!” But just to Thing 3. He smiled. Just a little. As small a smile as he could. I am not sure if he was amused or just glad that we were done waiting. Or that I had not jumped up and yelled and that he did not need to die of embarrassment.

In some ways, I wish that I had been bold enough to yell “BINGO!” loud enough for more than just a few people to hear. It would have been great fun and lightened a few people’s burdens. As it was, I was happy that I had made Thing 3 smile. A rare feat indeed. (He did not smile for his photo.)

In the end, I do not really know whether Thing 3 was amused at my planned antics (and relieved that I did not go through with them), or whether he was just wondering why I would shout and celebrate when there is no F in BINGO.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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