As a veteran of repeated interactions with the dreaded Florida DHSMV, I viewed my upcoming appointment (which was yesterday) with no little trepidation.
During one experience shortly after I moved back to South Florida from Texas, the glowering representative threatened to call Security when I dared to question a procedure I didn’t understand – why people unfortunate enough to have a driver’s license from the great state of Texas had to not only produce said driver’s license, but also their birth certificate, another photo ID, validation of a job and proof of residence, and a pint of blood (I’m exaggerating…about the blood).
He didn’t like it when I asked why he couldn’t verify my identity through my previous Florida driver’s license. And still being five or so years away from the confidently assertive person I am now, I shrank a few inches (no mean feat for me!) beneath his severe gaze and made no other protests. Not even when he incorrectly listed my maiden name as my middle name, started my license number off with a “B” (my married name was Brown) instead of a “G” and forgot to list me as an organ donor, necessitating the adherence of an “Organ Donor” sticker to my DL. I’m still not sure whether the gentleman was a complete incompetent, deliberately making an unsavory process more traumatic, or just having a bad day.
So all this week, my OCD was working overtime, prompting me to check several times a day to be sure all the necessary documents were in my purse and that my passport and voter’s registration hadn’t slipped away in the night. As Thursday morning ticked away, I found myself checking the time every 10 minutes or so, dreading appearing late and having to reschedule, which would take me several days passed the expiration date: my birthday, February 14, or worse, needing to take a day off work to stand in a miserably long line for hours, just to get a replacement plastic rectangle that doesn’t even come with a line of credit!
I left the office at 2:00 for my 2:30 appointment, and raced as fast as I dared (while maintaining a reasonable adherence to the suggested speed limit), arriving with about 8 minutes to spare. No serpentine lines wrapped around the outside of the building. A plus. I walked into the large storefront and took a moment to get my bearings, gazing at the lines of wall-to-wall people a few hundred feet in front of me. First things first. I joined the line of people just inside the door. They moved at a steady clip, helped by two amiable looking females sitting behind a long counter.
My turn. Yes, I have an appointment. I’m here for a renewal, address and name change. Here’s my Passport, my utility bill and Voter’s Registration, all in my current legal name, the last two with my current physical address.
I need your Social Security card. I don’t have the new one. I just had the name change done last week. Here’s the notice from the S.S.A. office and here’s my S.S. card with my previous last name.
Okay, that’s fine. Current Driver’s License? I handed that over too.
Okay, this is all just fine. Here’s your number. Take a seat over there until you’re called. Thank you.
About 10 minutes later, “A046.” That’s me! Here’s my number and my paperwork. Her fingers raced over the keyboard as she typed the information, returning each document to me as she finished. Except for the old D.L. of course.
Stand in front of the blue backdrop, please.
I’m dazed. This is going much quicker than I anticipated. Wait. Did I blink? It doesn’t look like a mugshot does it? Nervous; joke. No. I think it looks better than your last one. Well, that one wasn’t so bad. All done. Just wait over there. Thanks.
15 minutes later. “Wendy Garfinkle.” Please check the information on your driver’s license ma’am. And there it was. My shiny new Driver’s License. With the correct name and address. The photo more candid than the last one. My face a bit washed out. My nose looks cuter than it usually does in photos and no double chin. Thank you God! Not half bad.
As I walk out of the building, I check my watch. Not quite 3:15. Less than 45 minutes to get my new Driver’s License. And not traumatic at all. Thank you ladies at the front counter, who shall remain nameless (because I didn’t ask your names and you didn’t wear name tags – probably very wise). You’ve helped me thaw toward the Florida DHSMV.
I’m good for another 8 years. Unless I move again. Which I probably will. If my brother ever gets married. Or I get married and have to change my name again. I’ll almost certainly move again. Probably within the next couple of years. Change my name again? Nah. It’d take a real prince of a man to talk me into it. And the only prince of a man I can think of that’s close to my age is getting married in April. To some other lucky wench.