All the best stories start with “Once upon a time…”
Once upon a time, I got a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles. It seems my current driver’s license is due to expire in a couple of months–on my birthday, conveniently–so I had to get a new one. Being the sort of person that tries — TRIES– to be proactive, I looked over the information they sent on the very day I received it.
There’s a new system in place: it’s called REAL ID and is apparently spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security, which automatically makes me suspicious of it. Paranoia about undocumented aliens continues to climb, as I had to collect an entire herd of information to prove my identity to renew and upgrade to the REAL ID. The thing with REAL ID is, it’s being required at airports even for domestic travel, so not having one means schlepping your passport around even if you’re flying within the US and not coming within hundreds of miles of the US border.
SO I looked over the list, and gathered the things I needed. I have my birth certificate from the time I originally acquired my US passport, lo these many moons ago. I also needed my passport, my current driver’s license, and either my Social Security card, a W-2 form showing my Social Security number, or (I thought) a completed 1099 form, which I have a number of as a freelance writer. I printed off a copy of my 1099 from a digital file in an email I could easily find (thanks Green Ronin Publishing!), and went online to the Wisconsin DMV’s website.
I filled out and submitted the form electronically, and dutifully made an appointment. I arrived, stack of documentation in hand, just prior to the appointed hour, and went to check in. <LOUD BUZZER SOUNDS> 1099s are only applicable if you collect social security benefits — something that was hinted at in one place, but was totally not even mentioned on the front page of the letter. I looked around: the DMV was pretty empty on a Tuesday, so I drove back home (not too terribly far, fortunately) and printed out a W-2, from the same file where I’d printed my 1099. I returned, and got in line.
Luck was with me that day. My documentation was deemed sufficient, and I was given a number and told to wait until my number was called. I walked over to the provided seating area – which was devoid of other supplicants — and was about to sit down when my number was called. I walked to the booth indicated, and a very nice lady scanned my documents, took my credit card to pay for the renewal, and gave me a sheet of paper with a facsimile of my new card to use as my temporary license until the card was mailed to me in “about 10 business days”. I was regretting giving up my current card, because the picture on it actually looked pretty good. Looking over the new picture on the temporary sheet I have to admit I’m satisfied: no more looking like I’m a plague victim or an escapee from clown college; the photo was again a decent representation of my face.
The moral of this story, if there is one, is be persistent. Don’t give up easily. Despite losing my appointment, I was able to come back and get right in with practically no waiting. In a few more days I’ll have my new license, and I’ll be ready for more road (and air!) trips next year!