Standing in line doesn't have to be a bad experience. On Aug. 28 I had the good fortune of waiting in line for almost an hour to get a tag for my car. A few months ago I interviewed Dale Summerford, county tax collector, about the increase in fees and licenses that took effect Sept. 1.
I forgot about it until Friday when I happened to pass Summerford's office and noticed the overcrowded parking lot and cars lining the street around the office. I wondered what was going on and stopped to find out. I met Summerford on the sidewalk and he told me that people were in line to beat the deadline.
Instead of getting in line right away I was trying to decide whether to come back Monday when the line wouldn't be as long. David Thomas, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office auxiliary deputy, advised that if I was going to wait until Monday, I should be in line when the office opened at 8:30 a.m. That was a no-brainer for me because getting up early is one of the things I hate most. I will get up if I must but I'm not happy about it.
By the time I took my place at the back of the line it was close to 4 p.m. and there was a steady stream of people coming in with renewal envelopes in hand, taking their places behind me. My renewal envelope was in the car but I wasn't about to lose my place in line. I saw two of my classmates in the line, my neighbor and his new wife and several other people I knew.
Everyone seemed to be in good moods. There was a lot of good-natured joking and people were courteous and considerate. There was a lot of talk about the increase in fees but no one complained about the government. There was no talk about the health care bill or about problems of the world. There wasn't one grouch that I could detect. As the ladies inside worked swiftly to keep the line moving, people talked about how fast everything was going.
Several people said they tried to get tags in Tallahassee but decided to come to Quincy. The line, one man said, was outside and the office was going to extend the hours until midnight to accommodate the public. Summerford reassured everybody in line we would be served but the doors would be locked at 5 p.m.
Mrs. Long, a lady from Chattahoochee, walked in behind me and was moving slow. She said she didn't know if she could stand that long because she has recently undergone knee surgery. I found her a chair with wheels and she sat down. A young man standing in line behind her volunteered to push the chair forward when the line moved.
I met a young woman who said she liked to write and wanted to know what it took to be a guest columnist for The Gadsden County Times. Another woman had her friendly but frisky puppy with her. The pooch became the mascot for our section of the line.
At 4:59 I stepped up to the counter to get my tag. There was a little glitch in the printer and my tag had to be run twice but all together it took about 5 minutes. As we each got our tags we waved to each other and said things like "take care" or "see ya soon." It was as if we'd been on a trip together but now it was time to go our separate ways.
What a difference an hour makes.