Friday, July 20, 2007

Words from a Hero

This is just something that came to me.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I have the satisfaction of being able to answer "I save lives."
Naturally they ask me if I'm a firefighter, or a police officer, or a doctor and I smile and shake my head. They never guess that I'm an official for the subtlest, behind the scenes lifesavers in the American government: The Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
It always amazes me how lightly most BMV employees take their work. They don't realize that car crashes are one of the top killers in our nation, and we are the first line of defense against that killer. Sometimes when I'm sitting at the counter, staring out at the endless line of people. I just stop working for a full five minutes to try to count how many lives I must have saved by keeping vision-impaired and underqualified drivers off the road. They should give me a medal of honor.
Someone tried to bribe me once, you know. Some high-up government type had a daughter taking her driving test with me. He said something like "It's very important that Kristina passes this test, so make sure you grade her extra fairly" and slipped a $100 bill in my palm. Well I didn't take kindly to that. I said to him, loud and clear, "I'm going to evaluate your daughter's test based solely on her driving ability because goddammit lives are at stake here! If I passed her when she had more than three strikes, the blood of tens of nameless drivers and pedestrians would be on my hands! I won't take your blood money!" Then I threw the bill back at him.
My supervisor thinks I "could have handled it more tactfully." Whatever.
You know, people say I can't put myself on the same level as police officers or fire fighters because I'm not putting my life on the line, but that just isn't true. Do you realize how many acts of terror in this country are committed by angry teenagers? And I make teenagers angry every day - and then continue to get into their cars, placing my life in their hands.
So the next time you need your license renewed, or new plates, don't think of it as a chore. Think of it as a chance to see some of America's most underappreciated heroes in action.