A Dollar Short

by Russell Waterman
California, USA

Having to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is never pleasant. It’s lots of people waiting in long lines, being waited on by unhappy employees. In the early spring of 2007, I had business at my local Southern California DMV office and dreaded it.

My father had “gifted” his old car to my twenty-year-old son, whose truck had finally given up the ghost. So, prepared for the worst, my son and I got the paperwork together to transfer the car into his name and drove down to the DMV.

First, we stood in line at the Information Desk. They review paperwork to determine what “window” we should go to wait in next. When we got our chance, I handed the lady our paperwork and told her why we were there. She mumbled something and started to plow through some forms, clearly searching for more to give me. Anticipating what form she was looking for, I handed her a completed copy of another document I had with me. Indeed, that was the one she was searching for.

Thinking I had just made her job a little easier by having the form already filled out, I expected maybe a grin. Instead, she frowned.

Next, she handed us a ticket with a number on it. “Have a seat and wait for your number to be called”.

We found two seats together in amongst the rest of the sweaty mob of people “waiting to be called”. We waited. And waited some more.

Finally, my number was called. Stepping up to the counter, shoulder to shoulder with other people taking care of their business, I gave the lady all our forms.

“That’ll be $15.00,” she said.

A Dollar ShortAfter emptying our wallets, between the two of us we could only come up with $14.00! My brain started to spin. I was trying to figure out a way to pay so we wouldn’t have to come back and wind through each line all
over again.

“Do you need a dollar?”

I did a double take and looked at the gentleman beside me. He was in his mid-thirties, Hispanic, clean-shaven and soft-spoken. “Do you need a dollar?” he asked again.

“Why, yes I do.” I said.

He casually reached for his wallet and gave me the bill. I thanked him very much, trying not to act too shocked at my good fortune.

We completed our business and started to leave. The gentleman was still standing next to me. I gently tapped him on the shoulder and extended my hand in gratitude.

“Thank you again, sir,” I said shaking his hand.

“Bless you,” he replied.

Even though it was only a dollar, he had really surprised me. Instead of leaving the DMV in a foul mood from being put through the meat-grinder, thanks to him I left with a good feeling.

Originally published as HeroicStories #731 on Nov 28. 2007

1 thought on “A Dollar Short”

  1. In the PA DMV people are not allowed to pay with cash. Several years ago I had the cash but they would not accept it. Had to go home and get my check book.


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