Sunday, February 12, 2017

You Could Do That Then, Part II

Some time ago I wrote of things one could do once but no longer, and mentioned among them the simultaneous holding of drivers licenses from multiple states and the quick replacement of a lost license. I never held or wished to hold multiple licenses, but I thought it an example of a certain freedom now lost that one could once do so, and certainly the quick replacement made my life much simpler once.

This past week, during an ESL class, we reached an exercise in which the participant describes himself: clothing, accessories, eye color, hair color. When I look in the mirror it is generally to shave, so I don't make much eye contact with myself. It seemed to me that my eyes are green and brown, though. It struck me that my driver's license might note this, and I took it from my wallet. The license does not give my eye color, or for that matter my hair cover. It does give height and weight. It also gives its expiration date: my most recent birthday, some months ago.

Friday, we went down to the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Georgetown. At the entrance we found that I had failed to mention, and my wife had failed to notice, the requirement that she provide an official document showing her Social Security number. She will have to find a W-2 and go back: fortunately she has several months in which to do this, for her license is not yet expired. We filled out forms, we presented documents. I left with perforations punched in my current drivers license, and a printed form stating that I have a "Real ID" license in the works. The form has my picture, my height and weight, but does not mention hair or eye color.

The new license will arrive in the mail. This seems to me to contradict the whole "Real ID" premise of improved security, for mail does not always arrive where it should. Our neighborhood's letter carrier is reliable, but like anyone might fall ill or take a vacation. We receive now and then neighbors' mail and know that mail sent us hasn't arrived. So it is possible that the new license, to get which I proffered an old license, a current passport, my Social Security card, a mortgage statement, and a telephone bill, will be delivered to somebody who has never met me. In that case, the best outcome would be that the recipient leaves it with us; second-best that the recipient throws it into the trash; and worse and unlikely but still possible, that the recipient reserves the license for occasions on which he is caught speeding or running red lights.

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