Kirby: In line and on the line at the DMV
I got my first driver license in California. On a summer day in 1969, my father drove me over to the driver license office. We parked in the lot. He shut off the car and looked at me.
"You know how I'm always telling you to try harder when you take tests?" When I nodded, he said, "Well, I won't be mad if you flunk this one."
He waited outside while I took the written test and then drove over some traffic cones with an examiner.
I came out half an hour later waving a small piece of paper. The actual license featuring a mug shot of a ferret with glasses would arrive later by mail. When I showed the temporary license to the old man, he visibly aged.
Last week, the state of Utah sent me a notice to renew the same driver license I've had for 41 years.
Not the same actual card, mind you. I received that one when we moved to Utah in 1970. I still have it in a drawer around here somewhere.
I didn't turn in the original license when I renewed it. The year of my birth had been crudely altered so I could buy beer. It didn't work.
I told the driver license people that I had lost it. They gave me a new one. It was almost that easy. The process amounted to signing a paper and having my picture taken. I could have been wearing a clown wig and an eye patch and it wouldn't have mattered.
Over the years, the process to renew my license remained uncomplicated and almost automatic. I noticed a subtle change several years ago.
I renewed my license when I moved to Herriman in 2003, but not until a Salt Lake County deputy whom I shall refer to here only as the one who lives across the street from me pulled me over. Twice.
Him the first time: "You're supposed to get a license with your new address, Mr. Kirby."
Me: "OK, I will."
Him four months later: "I'm not kidding. Get your #*&@! license renewed. And bring back my lawn mower."
Not wanting to risk a third encounter, I went to the Driver License Division, reported I had moved and received a new license with my "new" address. And I took back the lawn mower.
Things aren't so easy anymore. Now the state of Utah wants me to prove that the me on my 2007 driver license is still me, that in the past five years I haven't somehow morphed into a Mexican immigrant mother of three.
Along with the letter telling me it was time to renew was a list of instructions on how to do it, starting with a personal appearance at the office on or before my next birthday.
In addition to my actual face, the Driver License Division wants me to bring various forms of irrefutable proof that I am:
A. A U.S. citizen.
B. Who I say I am.
C. Invested in Social Security.
D. A resident of Utah.
Actual proof consists of different documents for each of these categories. I didn't read the entire list. I got bored. The document reads suspiciously like a test. I hope not. I don't test well. It's an even bet that I won't be able to find everything they want.
I flashed back to the conversation with my father just before he let me go into the Driver License Division 42 years ago. He just may get his wish this time.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/notpatbagley.