Wednesday, October 13, 2021

SOL at the DMV


Way back last July, I got a notice from the state that my driver's license was going to expire on my birthday, which wasn't until late September. Smashing all previous personal records, I got right on it. This is not my normal operating procedure. I was kind of proud of myself.

What with one thing and a virus, they said I needed to make an appointment at the DMV rather than just walk in. So I popped online to do that. Eighteen screens later they had a calendar of available time slots to pick from. Every hour of every day was booked for two months out. But sometimes, they said, slots opened up and those would be posted Monday evenings.

The next Monday evening I popped online and eighteen screens later they had a calendar of available time slots to pick from and there was nothing for two months out. I sensed a pattern here. And I booked for the eighth of October, at which point my license would have been expired two weeks. If I'd waited until the week before my birthday, of course, I'd be looking at sometime in 2022. 

This time I was going to get a Real ID. It was about time, since that fake ID is over fifty years old now. The Real ID is a much more strenuous assertion of your existence than the previous versions. At some point, they promise, you won't be able to fly without it, although of course I can barely get off the ground now.

Quite a set of digital rabbit holes later, I was able to determine what current ID I needed to get the Real ID. It was serious business. They don't just take your word for it that you're a citizen in good standing, even if you're white. I would need either a passport or a birth certificate, both of which were in my safe deposit box, which I visit once a decade just to stamp myself as a grownup.

In order to get into my safe deposit box I needed my driver's license. I presented my driver's license. The teller squinted at me. "Are you aware your license has expired?" Yes I was. That's why I need to get into my safe deposit box. To get my birth certificate, without which I can't prove I ever hit air. The teller wasn't sure he could let me through the big iron gate with an expired license. 

Are you serious? I said.

He wasn't sure if he was. He had to check with somebody.

How about if you let me in there for now and I get my birth certificate and drive over to the DMV and get my new temporary license and come right back here with that and we'll put it back in the box all legit-like?
 
He told me I really shouldn't drive without a license.

I drove over here, I said. His face was unreadable but not reassuring. He also said I didn't look like my driver's license photo. I said Thank you.
 
I see what's happening here. I'm Charlie on the MTA. I can't get my license without my birth certificate and I can't get my birth certificate without my license. I'm in the lobby of the Wells Fargo on Sandy Boulevard, people--somebody heave in a sandwich!

I don't know how to prove I exist. But I am hungry. Therefore, I think I am.


62 comments:

  1. I never bothered to get the "official" license, as it requires jumping through so many hoops to get it, and I never travel anywhere anyway. (And certainly not NOW.) I do want to update my picture next time, as I look nothing like my photo either. The last couple times I renewed, they said, "Nah... this photo is fine", and, to me, it isn't. It was taken back when they first started using the facial recognition technology. You had to face the camera and absolutely not smile. It was taken during my Goth period, when I dyed my hair black. If I ever am accused of anything, I just KNOW that is the picture they will put in the paper, and everyone will say, "Oh yeah! She's guilty all right!"

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    1. My last license, the photographer looked at the result and immediately asked if I'd like another shot. I didn't even look at the photo but I said No. It was all too embarrassing.

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  2. WI here…I went in armed with every piece of paper they said I needed and all they looked at was my passport. It was rather disappointing after all my hard work finding everything else. Good luck!

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  3. The week before the big shutdown in March, 2020, we braved the DMV to get our Real IDs. The usual anxiety about the DMV was compounded by the pandemic. The place was mobbed—a big box of germs. Masks would come the next week. We got Real Id’d…..then the state of Illinois pushed the real ID deadline ahead. I had to go back to the DMV this summer— appointments available, seats six feet apart, etc.

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  4. It's easier and cheaper to just get or renew a passport than to get an Real ID, at least here in Virginia it is. Appointments at post office passport offices? At your convenience. Appointments at the DMV - 6 months out or more, if you're lucky. Time it took to complete transaction? 15 minutes or thereabouts. And the photo came out quite well.

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    1. I'll be getting the sucker in the mail. No idea what the photo will be like but if it's anything like the one on this post I'll continue to be horrified.

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    2. SO true, and if you have a military ID, well folks that's REAL Real- surprise, surprise.

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  5. Because the pretender Jason Bourne was able to get into his safe deposit box pretty easily, which contained about 5 different passports, a bunch of money and a gun or two, and launched a movie and two sequels, so it's easy to see why any random bank employee must deter access for the safety of the of...of...of the...was it the CIA?

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    1. Murr could be Jason Bourne in disguise! You never know! Better to be cautious.....

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    2. I think we should see if we can get me and Jason Bourne in the same room at the same time. Naked.

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  6. I got a RealID before the pandemic at some point - along with a new photo and all that crap. I think I only waited at the DMV in line, and then finally in a chair, for about three hours. Gotta love the DMV. Meanwhile, I can't remember the last time I visited my safe deposit box. What I do know is that I can't find one of the two keys we have for it. The one I have says I should let them know IMMEDIATELY if I lose one, but I didn't realize I'd lost it until a few days ago when I stumbled on the one I can now still find. I don't think I want to bother opening the can of worms that telling them I lost one of them would very likely involve...

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    1. I lost my key a few years ago---met a locksmith the bank hired, paid $75 and he popped the lock out in maybe five seconds. That was not reassuring. If he could do it, so could anyone with that tool. (Found the key when I got home.)

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    2. Oh dear. Well, I was in and out of the DMV in 45 minutes. Not too bad.

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    3. Just there yesterday and the wait was tolerable, the clerk helpful, and the crowd orderly—I did have to ask the guy in front of me when they called group #41-45 to step back as I was #41 and he had #44! I already had gotten my Real ID via an appointment (step into your own line, not the proletariat one) a couple of months ago, super easy, but transferring title and registration required mail in—so I thought. FYI, the DMV is 2 months behind opening their mail! I guess I deserve it as we requested a vanity plate. Our VA plate says OR3GON and our OR plate will someday read VRGN1A. I’m so confused and actually prefer riding my bike.

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    4. ME TOO. Especially with my new [[granny gear]]

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  7. Murr, I enjoyed your story (and your awesome photo) but I'm a little filled with dread-my license expires in 2 weeks, I got my photo-card weeks ago and keep putting off going! Oh joy.

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    1. Here, you'd be looking at some time in January.

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    2. Fortunately, I always opt for the "permanent license", which means mine is good until 2025. (What part of the word "permanent" don't they understand?) Unfortunately, that means that I am stuck with that crappy picture until then. And maybe even longer, if they say, once AGAIN, "Nah.... this picture is still good." AAAARGH!

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  8. Well DAY-um! This is the first I've heard of Real Ids. Been living under a rock, I guess. However, I get around the country (lately, just between TX and your lovely state) on my military (wife of retired) ID. It was "fun" when that form/card was changed and the TSA agents had never seen the new look before.

    Guess I'll go check my driver's license! I know it's going to expire in 11 months. Sounds as though I need to book an appointment ASAP.

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  9. Also, I grew up listening to the MTA song (and all the rest of the Kingston Trio's repertoire--I especially love "The Merry Minuet"). As a child, I couldn't figure out why the additional nickel wasn't tossed through the window instead of a sandwich.

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  10. What an adventure! The bank dude should be hearing this story frequently. (When my mom died, my 2 brothers (one being executor) went to the safe deposit box. They quietly freaked out when they saw that the signature card had someone totally not connected with us at all who'd signed it months before them! The bank was very glad nothing was missing! My brothers promptly removed everything. You could put your old driver's license in the safe deposit box. In Kansas, they used to snip a corner off the old one. Now they take it and give you a paper receipt with a photo of the new one, until the new one arrives....Linda in Kansas

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    1. They gave me a paper one and punched a hole in the old one. You can see it in the photo.

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  11. I had to look up what "Charlie on the MTA" even meant. It was not reassuring. Do you think Murr is allright? Is someone close enough to her bank branch that they can send her food/a change of clothes/ beer? Jesus! She may be stuck there forever unless we can get her out!

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    1. In Boston, the renewable fare cards for the MTA are called Charlie cards. I doubt that most people have no idea why.

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    2. Any idea, not no idea. Don't know where my grammar has gone.




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    3. Mimi, Was it your intent that someone pitch Jesus to Murr, along with her food/change of clothes/and beer? He might not be a cross-dresser, but he might eat her sandwich. Depending on which denomination He's aligned with at the mo', He might also drink her beer. =:^o

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    4. I would never pitch a fictional character to anyone. I might as well use "Frodo" or "Snape" as an expletive.

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  12. Last time I needed to renew my license I thought it would be a good idea to get a Real ID. When I saw how much trouble it was and that my passport would get me through I opted out for the moment. I usually keep my passport handy in case I need to leave the country in a hurry. You just never know what might cause me to leave suddenly. Anyone know which countries don't have an extradition agreement with the U.S.? Asking for a friend.

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    1. Was it something with your pony?

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    2. I so hope you are still with us. You just reminded me that, I too, have no current license. I got ithe paper one gets while the actual license is produced. But I never got the license. This particular problem is not on the allowed list of problems, and I can find no way to reach an actual human. I need to remember to go back to the driver’s license place as soon as I get my van out if the shop.

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    3. "This particular problem is not on the allowed list of problems." Borrowing.

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  13. This is just like the six months I spent without ID because I had lost my card and couldn't get a new one without proving who I was and all my legal papers, given to me by my mum, were actually photocopies and not real at all. And there was a missing link between my current name and my birth name. I'm legal again now though.

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    1. Good thing. We don't cotton to no illegals here.

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  14. As a Brit, it's strangely comforting to know that these kind of bureaucratic möbius strips can happen in other societies.
    I thought we had the monopoly on such madness!

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    1. Oh, Sweetie... Brits may be a little mad, but to know true insanity, you have to look to America.

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    2. I'm just glad I don't have to get my driver's license in England. I drove there once and EVERYONE WAS COMING AT ME.

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  15. Nope, 7 weeks here & STILL not done, Dr. and bank not final yet. Got internet yesterday though, yippee! Now to catch up on Murr's musings. Happy Face here...

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  16. I hope that anyone who has not yet watched the lovely film "Zootopia" will certainly get the DVD soon (perhaps free at your local library) and enjoy. the. part. with. the. department. of. motor. vehicles. Period.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm still fondly remembering the DMV scene in Taxi with Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd).

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  17. My wife's credit union booked a DMV appointment for her. All they ever do for ID is a signature match.

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    1. Mark, I can't even match my own signature anymore.

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  18. We have a Sprinter camper van distributed by Freightliner, . The nice lady at DMV tried to charge me to register an 18 wheeler semi. When I stopped laughing we finished the transaction. Guess it's all in the name. To date we have not heard many country tunes coming from the sound system the horn is downright friendly sounding and it stops at notable hiking and birding spots. Hahaha.

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  19. I heard "Charlie on the MTA" many years before learning that it was a parody of "The Wreck of Old 97." Reverse learning, I suppose we could call it, though I'm sure someone will think of a better phrase. And yes, Cbot, throw him a nickel, which was my mom's immediate reaction too on hearing the song.

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    1. I didn't know that--my recollection is it was a campaign song, right?

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  20. Just so here at the Hoosier BMV.

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  21. To acquire a Real ID in New Hampshire it took 3 trips to the DMV. They always wanted one more piece of paper. My advice to everyone is keep the name you have on your birth certificate. I had to provide my birth certificate first marriage license, divorce decree, and second marriage license. The fact that I had a valid passport was of no use. Arrrgh.

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    1. Fortunately, I never saw the need to change my whole identity just because I got married. Just like having kids seemed like too much work and not any fun, so did the whole business of "changing one's name." WHY do women still DO this, FFS???

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  22. Oh and because I went to visit my mom in Montana and had a forwarding address when they mailed my new license it was returned to the DMV because they do not permit forwarding of that license.

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  23. ...he may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston...

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  24. I don’t know what I’d do without granny gears on my bikes. Good for you!!

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