Wednesday started out as a nice slow day at the Alameda County's Clerk Recorder's building. So slow I sat over an hour before I was brought a marriage license. They were a very sweet couple, we had a normal wedding ceremony, and they were out the door.
I get the next license and go out for the couple. They had several guests, everyone is happy, and we start signing after the ceremony. The witness signs and says my name is misspelled. Great, another couple who did not proof the license before it was printed. And for some reason they don't have a souvenir marriage certificate. We have to get the real license corrected and reprinted and everyone sign again. We also have to get a souvenir certificate. The clerk starts the process and the whole computer system in the building goes down. Nothing can be done. So she goes to type up the souvenir certificate and makes a mistake. So she does it again.
While this is going on I tell the next couple I will take them up as soon as the system is back up. Hoping it will come back up. Sometimes it can take a really long time. Finally the system comes back on line, I sign and go for the next couple.
No groom, he has gone to feed the meter. We wait, and wait. She calls him, it goes to voicemail. So she runs outside to find him. Lovely, no bride or groom. Finally they come back in and we do the ceremony. It is a confidential license. They tell me they just wanted to marry quietly, and will have a "real" wedding later. There is that nasty word again, REAL.
When I come downstairs, the lobby is full of couples and their guests. I figured the computer system is acting up again. I am asked how late I can stay, too many couples to be done by 4:30. I tell them I'll stay until it is done. I call Marty and tell him not to come get me until I call him. The bigwigs from upstairs are telling all the couples not to worry, they will be married and go out the door with their paperwork that day. We peons are thinking, how can you promise that? What if the computers go down again. Nothing can happen without the computers.
We lucked out, most of the couples were just buying a marriage license. The computer system did not crash again.. But I did stay late to get the weddings done.
My next group nearly drove me crazy. It was like herding cats. I could not get their attention, they wouldn't get on the elevator, they would not hush. They bride told me she wanted to play gospel music before the ceremony. I said OK, but only one verse, we are on a tight schedule. (the building is now closed, and I don't know if more couples are waiting downstairs) Then the couple can't make up their minds on who will bring the rings up, their children or adult friends. Then they had to discuss whether they would stand alone or have friends stand up with them. Finally decisions. The bride wants everyone seated and then she will walk in, OK. Then they hand me a CD and tell me to play it. I asked, "On what?" They thought we would provide a CD player. No, we provide a room and me. They wanted to argue about it, and I cut them off. NO CD PLAYER HERE!
Finally, after telling everyone to please stop talking on your phones, to please sit down, I am the only allowed to talk now, I motion the bride to come in. I start to say my first words, and a man burst into song. Luckily he had a nice voice, but he sang forever. I was floored. You think someone would have told me about plan B.