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  • Jake Corbin

“A” is for Anxiety

Art by Paul Rios


“The information does not match our records.”

The muscles in my chest tightened with anger as I hit the “enter” key for the fourth time.

“I know my birth date; I know the last four digits of my social security number; and I can read the date my driver’s license was issued!” I screamed in my mind, staring daggers at the computer screen. “What the fuck doesn’t match your records?”

After being denied again, I gave up trying to register an account with the Department of Motor Vehicles. With silent rage, I walked away from the computer realizing a majority of my morning had been completely wasted.

The registration on my car was overdue—potentially. It was hard to know for sure because I never actually received a notice in the mail. There were only two things I was certain of at that point: 1) the tags read “JUL” and “2011” on my license plate, and 2) the DMV database was now my enemy.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. My red hair wasn’t the only thing on fire. The tightening in my chest had turned into an inferno of agitation. Fighting the urge to Hulk slam the nearest object in the room, I decided to handle my feelings in a mature, adult-like manner—on Twitter.

“@tweetsbyjake: To put it nicely, I wish every DMV office would burn to the ground.”

Pissed off and now late for work, I hastily threw together a turkey sandwich, packed my bag and left the apartment. Maybe the walk to work would calm me down; it had worked in the past. Not today. Despite an unusually breezy summer morning, nothing seemed to cool my overheated temper.

Arriving at work nearly 20 minutes later, I crossed through the lobby towards the elevator doors. I noticed a woman staring intently in my direction. She was wearing an ankle-length dress, something a hippy would love, and a large hat more appropriate for the Kentucky Derby than the Secretary of State’s building. I still had my sunglasses on, which made it a harder to see, but I could make out enough of this person to know it was a stranger.

“What floor are you going to?” the woman said to me once I was within talking distance. Her tone came off as slightly bewildered.

“Umm… the fifth floor,” I replied, very confused, while hitting the “up” button for the elevator.

As I finished my sentence, the elevator doors to our right opened to let us in. The woman entered first, almost dashing to the button panel. She hit the button for the third floor, then the fifth. An air of nervousness filled the small enclosed space.

“I’ve been waiting for someone to show up; I didn’t want to ride the elevator alone,” she said. I was surprised by how normal she appeared after making such an off-the-wall comment. The elevator was moving; I was now trapped with this person.

“Oh yeah,” I said, pretending to not be completely weirded out. “I guess the elevators have been acting up lately.” This was the only logical response I could counter after the information she provided.

“Ermm, don’t tell me that,” she quickly responded in a Marge Simpson-like timbre. I think her hand may have been trembling, but there was no doubt she was shuffling from side to side.

After an awkward pause the elevator bell dinged, alerting us it had reached the third floor, and the woman quickly exited, sliding through the doors as they were still opening.

She disappeared down the hall, hat flopping one way and her dress whipping in the other. The root of her anxiety would remain a mystery.

The doors shut and I was alone—not just in the elevator—but with my thoughts. As I traveled from the third floor to the fifth, it became overwhelmingly clear that my morning could have been a lot worse.

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