I renewed my Georgia driver’s license yesterday. Starting the day with a shower, a shave, and a pot of coffee, I thought, “I hope the DMV gets my photo right today. I don’t want a mug shot.” I’m not very photogenic, so I prayed to God for a decent photo to be taken. After all, you have to live with your driver’s license photo for years. My last driver’s license photo, taken 15 years ago, was much better than all the ones taken before it.
I arrived at the Georgia DMV at 9:00 a.m. and actually found a convenient parking space, even though the place was already a beehive of activity. Expecting a lengthy wait, I brought a calculus book with me to pass the time; but unlike in years past, the procedure proved to be surprisingly quick—like clockwork. Things at the DMV have changed markedly for the better since I last walked into the DMV 15 years ago. With a female voice on the overhead speaker announcing, “Window number eight now serving number . . . ,” the experience seemed futuristic, like the 1976 science fiction film “Logan’s Run”.
A nice man at the check-in counter handed me a form to fill out and number B177. Things were moving quickly as I hurried to complete the form. I stumbled on two questions, so I asked the man at the counter for clarification. With my working for another state agency, the Georgia Department of Transportation no less, you’d think that I’d be able to interpret bureaucratic language. Maybe you have to have had a lobotomy to understand it . . . Apparently, that’s how many bureaucratic chiefs rise to the top. In my case, that hasn’t happened, yet.
When my number was called, I went to Window 12, where a smiling young woman greeted me. I had all the required proofs of identity: social security card, passport, two current utility bills, birth certificate, and more. As she asked for each document, I eagerly produced it.
First, she asked for my expiring driver’s license. I handed to it her while saying, “My photo on this license isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s the best yet. Please do as good of a job this time.”
Then came the dreaded moment: the photo that the DMV strives to make lousy. She instructed me to take my hat off, stand on the white line, and look at the blue dot. A blue dot, why not red? Red is a better attention getter. I did as she instructed and tried to make a decent face—maybe too hard. When she handed me my temporary paper license and I saw the results, I exclaimed, “I don’t look like this, do I? Let’s do another photo. I’ll pay double the renewal fee. I’ll pay anything you want. Let’s start over. I’ll go outside, come back in, get a new number, and we’ll start over. Okay? Please? I can’t carry this kind of photo around for the next five years.”
She responded, “We can’t do another photo unless there’s an update.”
“Well, let’s update this god-awful photo,” I fired back.
“That’s not an update. An update is something like a change of address or driving restrictions. You’ll receive your laminated license within two weeks.”
“Yeah, and hopefully without this photo,” I lamented.
“It’ll be with the same photo,” she said with a gleaming smile. “Good day.”
Yesterday was Saturday, and it was ruined because of that photo. That god-awful photo was all I could think about yesterday. Then this morning while drinking coffee, a stroke of brilliance hit me: I’ll wait a couple of months, claim that I’ve lost my license, pay the $5.00 replacement fee, and get a new photo. The photo fix can’t be that easy, can it? . . . . Something tells me that they’ll have my current photo on record and they’ll use it again. Maybe, I better quit while I’m $5.00 ahead and hope for a decent photo in five years. The only problem is I’ll be looking five years older then.