Citizen Slave of New Jersey
Today I took a trip to the NJ MVC (NJ Motor Vehicle Commision). After 8 months the pressure was on to conform to the rules of the land, or be without the convenience of paying more dues to it! My car has been acting weird and she really sounded weird today, but she got me there.
When I stepped outside, all I could do was shake my head at the big giant X that stretched across the entire sky. I had no time to dally with the sky phenomenon today so I quickly got into my car and turned on my GPS and headed towards Runnemede, NJ.
The panic I felt the few days before going there was immeasurable. They have a 6 point checklist of things you need to prove you are who you are and that you belong here on this planet. And if you don’t they will flatly send you home and tell you try it again. Fortunately, I was able to gather all that I needed and a little some for good measure. My goal, to get a photo ID. I was under the impression that I would have to take the NJ driving test so I opted for the ID card.
The “citizen slave” receptionist told me I had just what I needed and asked me,
“Are you sure you want to surrender your PA driver’s license?” The word surrender” sounded so ominous.
“Surrender?” I asked, “you mean I have to give it up in order to get a NJ ID card?”
“Of course,” he respond candidly, “You cannot have several ID cards.”
(Like lady, what do you think this is?? Do you work for the CIA? Or some other top brass official organization, cause they the only ones allowed to have more than one ID card. In fact, some of them have several and depending on the occasion they will flash them for you, but you little comely “citizen slave” is only allowed one.)
I am stumped, now what do I do.
“You can just get a NJ driver’s license and that will be sufficient.”
“But how will I go about doing that? Do I have to take the driver’s lesson over again?”
“Oh no!” he responded as if he were just so happy to tell me that the slaves that come to his state need only surrender their other slave master’s jurisdiction and they are welcomed with open arms.
“You can do that today. You can get your NJ driver’s license today.” He smiled so nicely at me. It almost tricked me into feeling relieved. He actually believes in his slave master and that his slave master is one of the nicest slave masters around.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see in a picture frame, hanging on the wall behind him, the smiling face of Governor Chris Christie, whose face seemed to smile even broader now that he has been exonerated from that NJ BridgeGate Scandal. Even as I was leaving, the little happy “citizen slave” receptionist, went out of his way to bid me a fond farewell.
Standing in the MVC in Runnemede, NJ, I watched as “citizens slaves” renewed their vehicle registrations, their driver’s license, and get new ones. I watched “citizen slaves” pay $46.50 for vehicle registrations, $24.00 for ID cards, and $34.00 to transfer your license from another state to NJ.
I watched “citizen slaves” line up for their numbers and ID cards and had flashbacks of South Africa, when you could travel no where without an ID card. I watched the little old lady receptionist “citizen slave”, check the paperwork of other “citizen slaves” to make sure it was all there according to the law.
One “citizen slave” was so distraught, he wanted to register a vehicle in his name, a vehicle that belonged to a deceased or long gone relative. In his haste he started erasing the name of this relative on the registration document and then quickly caught himself before he erased everything. But, to his chagrin, he had altered the document which made in inadmissible. He was completely outdone, as he begged the other “citizen slave” to allow his document to pass. She flatly refused, fearful of her job being jeopardized as he begged and pleaded. She demanded that he get another document and get the person whose name is on it to get a new one.
“But he’s dead!” he cried.
“Dead?’ she responded.
“Well, he’s missing, he’s gone, I don’t know where he is. We can’t find him!” he responded frantically. “Is there anything you can do?”
“No, you need another document, you altered this one, we cannot take it.” She responds definitively..
“But isn’t there anything I can do?” the poor little “citizen slave” begged.
“Well, you can declare the car abandoned. Then you can take ownership of it.” Crestfallen, the “citizen slave”, walked away as I wondered why and how we are so anxious to add another chain to our ankles.
After several months, I finally am standing in this line to tell the world, I am no longer a “citizen slave” of Pennsylvania, but have transferred my slave owner to New Jersey. Then it was my turn, after standing in the wrong line for over an hour, I step up, to become a “citizen slave” of New Jersey.
The little old “citizen slave” representatives busily worked away in their pastel blues and spring yellows. The younger “citizen slave” customer servant agent had perched on her desk a picture of her fiancé, totally clad in dressed army uniform. And as she faded away for a minute, creating a soft pause between herself and her paperwork, I wondered if that “citizen slave” representative was wondering if she would ever see her “citizen slave” soldier again.
Then she called my number, 67. Her diamond ring sparkled on her finger as she thumbed through my paperwork. She takes a soft break, and I traveled with her wondering how he is doing and will she ever see her fiancé again, and if she does, what kind of physical and mental condition will he be in. She was kind and courteous and most likely looking forward to getting out of there in contrast to her senior “citizen slaves” who appeared quite competent, white haired, deep glasses busily typing the information into the MVC standard software on their computers. I wondered how long they had been there. Was it Nepotism or genuine qualifications that had them there long past retirement age.
It’s lunch time and the “citizen slaves” lined up, one by one, almost two by two.
The young “citizen slave” customer servant agent looked at my head wrap and said,
“Um, it’s part of your religion, right?”
I nodded, she never looked up, and said,
“Right, it’s your religion, it’s okay” in a moving-right-along tone.
Then I felt compelled to tell her how outraged I was when they questioned me when I got my PA license renewed for 2014. I had been wearing my headwrap for these many years, which I politely did not state, and showed her my other license and passport with my headwrap and now they want me to take it off??!! She chuckled at my story, admitting that they would never take anyone of their “citizen slaves” through that as long as it’s their religion!! Again, the citizen slaves are not allowed to wear any head wear unless it’s for religious reasons. Though they are aware that some just want to wear the headwrap to cover their messed up hair. I can understand covering messed up hair, but I only thought that, avoiding the look I would have gotten if I changed my story. But seriously, many of us who wear headwraps ain’t wrapping up a new do, that’s for sure.
I questioned myself, wondering why didn’t I feel jubilant!! What’s up with that? It’s finally done, I have all I need for anything, anywhere to prove I am a registered “citizen slave”. I can use this card to open a bank account, register to vote, get a passport update, show proof of address all over the place. I am in like Flint! but somehow I just don’t feel like happy days are here again. Where’s Pharrell Williams when you need him?
And then on the mechanical side of life, Ole Nellie, my car is acting up. She is leaking transmission fluid and had to be towed home after the ordeal at the NJ MVC. But Ole Nellie, she is a blessing, she came to a complete stop after several others, near home base, and quietly allowed herself to be drawn onto the tow truck and moved through the streets of NJ to my front door. I wondered if she felt my own conflicting feelings and since she had trouble with her transmission fluid leaking, I wondered if she was manifesting my own reticence to transition from PA Law to NJ Law.
I guess I am writing this to get a grip on how I feel about this. The irony of it all, is that as hard as you may attempt to get off the grid, consuming only a very little, at some point, you have to prove to somebody that you have the right to be here. How is it that human beings have to prove that they belong on the land they were born on?
Watching people have a glimpse, a tiny glimpse of “mission accomplished” as their paperwork past the acid test, and then slowly as they made their way to the door, you could hear the rattle of the prison guard keys and the slam of the prison gate, as each person knew, this was temporary, until that next date when they would have to stand in that line, once more, or else!!
Many of them have no idea of how they turned themselves in to the “citizen slave” master’s prison guards. They do not realize that by registering themselves, their property, their lives; at any point, at any time a law can be enacted to take them, their property, their lives away. The story of their life and survival on this prison planet is at the forefront of their minds. And if they register to vote, bequeath an organ, pay their taxes, they will be free. Free to live in America, the so called “greatest” country in the world. So the truth that they/we are walking around in a prison without bars is incomprehensible to most of those folks I saw today. They pride themselves in being good “citizen slaves”, doing their civic duty and staying within the extent of the law. And since it ain’t gonna change any time soon, I too stood in the line, felt that momentary sense of freedom and walked out, with my badge, my imprint, my chip, my picture and my acceptance into the “citizen slave” state of NJ.
I guess, I am feeling a little mournful. A deja vu of my ancestors who were transported to a new slave master, after they had just gotten used to the ways and wiles of the old one. Delving into the unknown can be a bit scary… then you pull yourself together and realize, it ain’t unknown, it’s the
So, I won’t just promise my poet friend I met in the line that I will come out and engage with him and his art; but I will go, because quiet as it’s kept, it is through our creativity that we can transcend slavery on this prison planet or at least find some joy.
It was interesting as I was surrendering myself to the banking system as a self employed “citizen slave”, the “citizen slave” Bank rep, chose to identify my Performing Arts rather than my Mental Health Profession as my main source of income. Ha! Could that be a sign, a signal, a message, that he inadvertently gave me? We are all in this boat together, at least pursue your Cultural Performing Arts to get that fleeting sense, “yeah, we live on a prison planet, but we can find some freedom through the arts.” He whimsically mused as he told me about his singing days and desire to go back to them.
I am grateful, I am blessed, I am honored to have the knowledge I have about this world, I would not give it back for any reason at all. It just felt like I had stepped into the twilight zone today, standing in the NJ MVC line adding another nail in the coffin of “citizen slavery”.
It’s over, it’s done, I am now a bonafide member of the human slave population of NJ. And what a cute little colorful chipped license they gave me. New address, new face, new license, but for some reason, it didn’t feel joyful, not at all.