My adventure at the DMV – A license to kill for

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(NOTE: I wrote this piece for a local newspaper in April of 2010, on the eve of my 49th birthday.)

Age is not only a harsh mistress, she’s a smug little tease.

This month, I have to get my driver’s license renewed. In person. They won’t just send me one of those cute little “update” stickers this time.

The last time I had to physically show up to renew my license was in 1995. As I recall, that renewal amounted to: You got two eyes? Fine, here’s your new license.

Sadly, in this age of terror-noia, those days are a fleeting memory. To renew your license in Florida now, you must have:

(1) a birth certificate. I lost that years ago (I think the stone it was chiseled on got broken at some point). So I had to pay $50 to my hometown of Chicago to get another copy. It looked far too youthful to represent a 48-year-old.

(2) My marriage license, which is necessary if you’ve changed your name. I took my wife’s maiden name when we got married. Such is the price of progressivism.

(3) Proof of my Social Security number. The only Social Security card I still have is my first one, from 1970, complete with my nine-year-old scrawl of a signature. The DL people almost laughed me out of the office when they saw it.

(4) Two documents showing my current address. As I hold the world’s record for getting the most junk mail every day, this was the easiest part of the process.

My first visit to the DL office was two weeks ago. The first obstacle was my vision test. They told me to read the letters in the boxes on the bottom line. I read them. They said, “You didn’t read the third box.” I said, “Were there supposed to be letters in that box?”

Last Wednesday, I went to the optometrist’s office to blow off another $79. They informed me that unfortunately, their “same day service” would be delayed by 24 hours.

On Good Friday, I got the glasses, went to the DL office again, and sat with the other 100 people who were there on their day off. After about an hour, it occurred to me that my wife was off somewhere with our only checkbook and credit cards. All I had was a debit card with a forgotten PIN number. Well, at least I got to relax for an hour.

On Monday, I got caught up on my work early at my job. With my boss’ approval, I seized the opportunity and rushed once more to the DL office, paperwork and check in hand. There, I was told that their DL renewal system was down, statewide, for an indefinite period of time.

So now, I have only 18 days to renew my driver’s license. And I have to spin the wheel and hope that the state’s computer system is in a state of grace on the day I take off from work.

I’m now a bit more sympathetic to people who drive without a license. I’m already getting my affairs in order, in the belief that it would be easier, at this point, to get arrested.

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