Three months ago, give or take, I went on down to the DMV to trade my Massachusetts driving license for a New York one (side note number one: I was supposed to get the NY license within 30 days of moving here, so I was a little late (1,370 days, give or take). The thing was set to expire this year on my birthday, though, so the time was certainly high.). I went in, I got all my forms and realized that I didn't have NEARLY enough "identification points" to get a license. You need to have, I think, 6 points, including proof of birth date, proof of address, proof of name, etc. And there are various caveats (eg: Out of state license does not count as proof of birth date but does count toward the 6 point total, birth certificate is required as proof of birth date but does not count as points, an original Social Security card is absolutely required for every single person but only counts as one point, etc). (side note number two: My first drivers license was issued in the state of New York, in Binghamton, when I lived up there. I was in my early 20's. Minnie taught me how to drive and even let me use her car. Up till that point I had no real reason to get a license as all my friends had cars and were kind-hearted enough to shuttle me around. Anyway, when I applied for that license I did not have, I am sure, a Social Security card (I lost the original when I was about 11 and I got a reprint, finally, when I enrolled at Massart in about 1994) or my birth certificate OR any other sort of official ID. I probably had a college ID and an electric bill. Then, several years later I got a Massachusetts license by simply trading in my New York State one and $10. The whole transaction took five minutes and I didn't even have to show them anything else. Ah, those crazy carefree days before 9/11.) That day, several months ago, I didn't have all of the stuff so I took the paperwork with me and went home. By a couple weeks ago I finally had all the stuff gathered together and was ready to go on in and try again.
I went in the early afternoon on a Friday and it took me, literally, 3 hours of waiting in line to get to the desk. I brought a million different pieces of ID with me, including pay stubs, rent receipts, phone bills, work ID, stool sample, birth certificate and much more. I had plenty, as it turns out. What I didn't have was proof of date of issue for my Massachusetts license. Seriously. Massachusetts doesn't put this on their license (at least they didn't when I got this license) and New York State requires it (side note three: wouldn't you think that since this sort of thing is required, and that since there is a pretty high rate of population transfer back and forth between the Empire and Bay states that it might be noted SOMEWHERE on the many forms that I filled out, or somewhere on the NYDMV website? You would think so, and you would be wrong). And since that Mass license expires ten years (ten!) from my BIRTHDAY and not from the date of issue I couldn't even try my luck at blinding them with my mastery of the ancient art of arithmetic.
I went home. I called the Massachusetts RMV (side note four: In Massachusetts it is the Registry of Motor Vehicles, in New York it is the Department of Motor Vehicles). The guy called up my account on the screen and said they would shoot me out a letter and I could expect it very soon. Swell.
The letter arrived a few days later. The very next morning I got up early, shaved and put on a nice shirt (in preparation for my license photo. Always think ahead!) and went to the DMV before work. I waited in line for quite some time before they checked my stuff (the letter worked. Woo!). I got my picture taken and waited (on a bench, not a line) for my number to be called so I could show my ID one last time and pay. My number was, at long last, called.
All my ID checked out. The letter checked out. There was something weird about my account tho, that they couldn't quite figure out. The lady brought over a supervisor. Finally as it turns out there were two listings for me. One as Christopher Dale the other as C.D. It turns out that C.D. has had his license suspended for quite some time now, something like 8 years, and that if he had had the misfortune to be stopped by a police officer for any reason he would be arrested. And yes, Virginia, C.D. is me.
I got a speeding ticket (in a TRAP, a blatant, honorless trap.) in Chicopee, Massachusetts (West Central Mass. Just outside Springfield on the Turnpike.) 8 years ago, sent off a protest so I could get my date in court and then more or less forgot all about it . The state of Massachusetts did not, however, forget about it (funny side note five: according to this Time Machine entry from June of 1999 yes, apparently they sort of did forget about it.). They neglected to actually inform me that my license was suspended (the address on that license was good until 3 years ago. You'd think they'd send a note or something.) and so I have since then driven from Massachusetts to Indiana, from Texas to California, from Seattle to Oregon, all over New England, New York (city and state) and New Jersey. I've rented probably 20 cars, I've owned 2 or 3. I've gotten on a whole bunch of airplanes. Sheesh.
So, needless to say, I had to get that cleared up. They said they would hold my picture and whatnot on file for me, that I could take my application with me. I went home, frustrated, but feeling a little cool for having evaded The Law for so long. I called, again, the Massachusetts RMV (side note five: you'd think that when I called them the last time and they pulled up my account they might of said, "Gee whiz, You are a wanted man, C.D.. Drop to the floor and put your hands over your head and wait for the Fuzz or else PAY THIS DUSTY OLD TICKET.". But no.) and they said that I owed them $192 dollars (a pretty arbitrary number, I'm thinking), that they take Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express and that the letter should be here in a few days. OK. Fine.
Now, finally, today I went back. Armed with a ton (literally 2,000 lbs) of identification, 2 different letters from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (on two different half-assed xeroxed letterheads that I could have saved myself $200 and a couple weeks time and many hassles by printing up on ANY HOME COMPUTER. No, no. That's C.D. talking. I, Chris, am a decent and law abiding chap.) and a pulpy paperback book about alien coverups (side note seven: the moon is totally hollow, yo) to kill the time while I stood online.
Success, partially. They took my old license and my $37.50. They gave me a temporary license that has no picture on it. Hopefully the real one gets to my house before the end of this month, when Erin and I fly to California to get MARRIED (side note number eight: holy crap!).
So, why, you may ask, do I say that the success was only partial? I'll tell you. I got a new picture taken for the license today and, partly because I am in dire need of a shave, and some need of a haircut, and partly because it is raining and I didn't have an umbrella, and partly because I am genetically pre-disposed to looking like a jackass in pictures, and partly because they goddamn told me that they would goddamn hold on to the goddamn (surprisingly reasonably good) picture that they took last time and I was not prepared, mentally, to have my picture taken, it is quite likely the worst picture ever taken of anybody ever in the long and storied history of the photograph.