A visit to the Division of Motor Vehicles has been a running joke for a long time now. Countless comedians have created bits about the DMV. In the process of buying my car in the past six months, I have spent a lot of time at the DMV. However, no trip has been as interesting as the one my parents and I had this week.
We walked into the DMV, holding a folder of paperwork just like everyone entering the queue. Right as we were walking in, a man walked in and did not enter the roped-off line hanging out the door. No, the man wearing a bright orange hat carried a gimbal. As I have told this story throughout the week, I realized this is not a common term. So for the non-camera geeks out there, a gimbal “can be described as a pivoted point that allows you to rotate an object along a single axis. You can capture incredible images from various angles by shooting with a gimbal. You can rotate your camera smoothly in different directions by combining three separate gimbals.”
It is essentially a steady, handheld tripod for a camera. The reason I go into all of this detail is to convey just how obvious it was that this man was filming, in an at least moderately professional way, the DMV and everyone in it. My dad immediately spotted him as my mom and I filled out paperwork. I asked my dad, “Are we scared or just confused?” He said he was more confused.
We got our number and found some seats in the crowded DMV. The man continued filming and what followed turned out to be some welcome vicarious entertainment during the wait for our number to get called.
Eventually, he was approached by the manager and was told to “stop filming or get out,” she yelled. He continued to argue and the security guard who could not have been more than 20 years old and not at all intimidating approached. They continue to argue, arms waving and at this point, had captured everyone’s attention at the DMV. Eventually, their conversation ended and the man walked out into the hallway but kept filming into the DMV from there.
That is when a self-described “good ole boy” got involved. He went out into the hallway and started arguing with the cameraman. The argument escalated and the “good ole boy” attempted to grab the gimbal and camera from the man. At this point, I was filming the altercation on my own phone. In the video, you can hear my dad saying, “get him, get him, man!”
All the while, my patient and diligent mother filled out paperwork and let us have our fun. After she finished the forms, she said she looked up and was surprised to see everyone in the DMV looking in the same direction, craning their necks to watch the altercation.
Eventually, the “good ole boy” let go of the gimbal when the man went to grab something in his back pocket. This was a dark moment and I was scared, but it turns out he was reaching for a piece of paper to show the man. Whatever the paper said made the “good ole boy” throw his hands in the air and walk away.
Still, before our number was called, the police showed up. This man who had been filming signs, people, and their information inside the DMV continued to argue with the police, not just a scrawny security guard and manager. After pretending he was leaving and trying to sneak back in another door and a lot of arguing, the police finally cuffed him and escorted him out to cheers from everyone waiting in the DMV.
Eventually, our number was called and we learned just a few details from the woman helping us fill out the rest of the paperwork. It was actually a bit frustrating because in between telling us where to sign on these very important forms, she was getting gossip from coworkers and I kept getting confused about where to sign.
The furthest explanation we could get was that the man claimed to be making an informative video to help people be more prepared to go to the DMV. A noble cause, sir, but no one is ever prepared for a trip to the DMV. It’s impossible, they will always need another piece of seemingly innate information that you had no idea you were supposed to bring with you.
My dad, a fellow journalist, and I were tempted to try to get the criminal complaint against him, but it was mostly just a joke. As we drove away from the DMV, after six months of work culminating in finally finalizing my car, we passed three police vehicles. As we drove by, one of the officers pulled the orange hatted man out of his cruiser and looked like he was about to return his camera. I suppose he just needed to be stopped, but who will ever know?
As someone I sent the videos I took of the incident said, “You have to be a special kind of crazy to get arrested at the DMV.”
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice