Renewing My License… Sound Simple? Not!


Yesterday was a good day. I woke up early, the birds were chirping, the sun was shining and all was right with the world. You know the best way to take a day like that and flush it right down the toilet? Head over to the Division of Motor Vehicles and try to renew your driver’s license.

The DMV wants you to renew your driver’s license. They want you to stay current. They send you reminder notices. But the people who want you to do that have absolutely no relationship to the people who are actually in charge of doing it.

Because I hadn’t had to renew my license in a while, all kinds of things had changed — and my address was the least of them. My reminder notice told me that I would now need to bring my current driver’s license, my original birth certificate, my Social Security card, two pieces of mail I had received at my new address and my marriage certificate(s) if applicable. If I didn’t have the marriage certificates, I needed to bring my passport.

No prob. I grabbed my “life file” from our safe, put on a brightly colored blouse and brushed my hair 100 times so I’d look good for the driver’s license photo from which I’d be identified for the next 10 years. I got to the DMV at 11 a.m. and kept my blood pressure in check by calmly playing Candy Crush on my phone. When my number was finally called, I marched confidently up to the clerk and laid out all my proof — obviously, I was me.

“All I really need are your current license and your passport,” she said.

Great. She typed all my info into her computer. Yes, I can drive a motorcycle and, yes, like any motorcycle driver should be, I am an organ donor.

Thanks to my brand-new glasses, I even passed the eye test. She snapped my photo, and it looked good. I started to put everything back in my file folder when she paused and said, “I am simply not familiar with this type of passport. It looks so different. It looks… ohhhhhh, it’s expired.”

“Yeah, I haven’t left the country since 2011,” I said.

She pushed her chair back from her computer in a no-go kind of way. “Then I do need your marriage license.”

“But the reminder said, ‘or passport,’” I smiled.

“’Or valid passport,’” she corrected. “Why don’t you go get that and get back here by 4 p.m., and we’ll finish this up?”

That was not a valid offer. No one is getting a passport in less than four to six weeks. I went to the passport office and filled out their two-page form. They handed it back, saying, “Blue ink? No.” I filled it out again in black ink and they said, “Now just run to Walgreens and get a passport photo.”

The girl at Walgreens was new. She didn’t know much about cameras, and she was short. “Don’t smile!” she commanded. Staring down into her lens and frowning, I looked terrible. I won’t be let into any country looking like that. I didn’t care. I paid the $16 and left. I had to get to the DMV by 4 p.m.

The DMV hated that I had tried. They didn’t accept the receipt for the passport, they yelled at me for leaving my original birth certificate with the passport people and they had deleted all my information from their computer.

At 3:47 p.m., following a meeting with the manager, the retaking of my photo and all kinds of grumbling, I had a new license. I raced back to the passport place to get my birth certificate returned and they again said, “No. Two to three weeks after you get the passport, it will be mailed to you.”

So now I can drive, but I’m not leaving the country, and I’ve never been born.

I’d complain, but I don’t exist.