Friday, July 13, 2018

I am who I am - Really

I have no idea why I thought retirement would provide a force shield against bureaucracy, but there was a definite rupture today.

          I gathered my passport, old drivers license, two pieces of mail, and a copy of my birth certificate for good measure and headed off to a branch of the RMV, with the goal of acquiring the new Massachusetts driver’s license that by 2020 will be required if I plan to fly. Since my current license expires in September, it seemed like as good a time as any.

          This branch was housed in a nearby AAA, so it was without the beaten air of resignation, the aura of a land you will never escape. This had maps, travel posters, Baggolini purses for sale, and a chirpy video loop playing on a big monitor.

          I filled out the two-page application, heard my name called in less than 10 minutes, and stepped forward with confidence.  The woman behind the counter took my picture and administered a quick eye exam. She accepted my paperwork (missing the fact that my passport had expired only weeks before) but we hit a snag when we got to my Social Security card. I never carry it – we’re always told NOT to carry it, and I’m a little sketchy about where it actually is.

          No problem – if I could just come back with an SSA- 1099 (benefits statement) all would be well.

          What the heck – I wanted to get this over with. I drove home, grabbed the form, and drove back.

          New lady behind the counter. A lady who did notice that my passport was out of date. Now I needed my original birth certificate – not a copy – and my marriage certificate, which means a trip to the safety deposit box next week.

          At least before my blood pressure cranked upwards with this news, those of us there were entertained by an elderly lady renewing her license. She must have been hard of hearing, because we were all treated to a full-volume play-by-play account of her trials at the eye exam machine.

          “I just came from an eye exam with Dr. Berger!”

          “Ma’am, if you could just look into the machine - ”

          “Where? I don’t see anything. Am I supposed to see something?”

          “If you could read the third row . .”

          “There’s nothing there! What should I see?”

          (Another clerk calling across the room) “Have her lift her chin.”

          (At the same time, the other clerk) “Could you read what you see . .”


          A cacophony of voices, calling back and forth for what had to be 15 minutes across the room, while the elderly lady continued to talk over them about what she wasn’t seeing, and how great she’d done at Dr. Berger’s, accompanied by what must have been her daughter adding helpful suggestions.

          Finally the exhausted clerk handed them a form and said, “Give this to Dr. Berger. Have him fill it out and you won’t need to take this exam when you come back.”

          I had a suspicion it was a form for the good doctor to complete attesting to the fact that this woman had no business sharing the road with the rest of us.



  1. Sigh.
    I always 'think' I have everything. And rarely do.
    I hope you did ultimately get your renewal.

  2. The bureaucracy is getting worse and worse. There are so many people who lie and cheat and they think by testing us all they can avoid that. I read getting my license renewed, but I will do it.

  3. I'm sorry it's been such a hassle for you, but I do have to say you got to write a VERY entertaining post from your trials. :-)

  4. I failed my eye exam last time I had to get my license renewed in person so had to go get prescription glasses which I lost in the flood. they only allowed me to pass the test as I saw ZERO difference while driving. so I went and got some drug store readers which I always have with me when I drive in case I get stopped. next time I have to do it in person I'm going to use my readers. if it works...yay! if not, I guess I'll have to get new 'real' ones.

    1. my ophthalmologist keeps telling me I 'need' prescription glasses to give me that nice 20/20 glow, but since he also does the prescribing and the selling, I suspect the glow would be in his wallet. I have 20/30 vision, which requires readers, and not much else.
      It isn't what you 'need' it's what works.

  5. I'd say you had a very bad day. What would happen if you wanted something very important ?

    1. Bad? No. Annoying, yes.
      I'm retired - fortunately I have plenty of time for this silliness.

  6. That poor lady. But I think she needs to pack it in

  7. There is a point where certain people shouldn't drive anymore and I think she's definitely reached that point.

    1. When you see someone so crippled with osteo that she can only peer through the steering wheel to where she thinks the road is, you know we need to be a bit more stringent with our tests.
      To my horror, I found that the NH mandatory 70 year-old driving test has been abandoned, so anyone of any age can wander the highways, blind or lame or functionally dysfunctional. It can get scary out there.

  8. My purse was stolen, w/social security card, several years ago. To get a new drivers' license, I needed a social security card, birth certificate, etcetcetc. I found the "temporary" card typed up with my name when I changed to my married name in 1964. DMV accepted it, but highly recommended a trip to my inaccessible, inefficient, social security office. I suppose before 2020, I'll make the trip.

  9. Oh, Lord. How annoying. Seems like an awful lot of documentation!

  10. years ago my mother (who was in the 'throw it all away I don't need it" stage of Alzheimer's) disposed of her SS card, her driver's license, and all of the family negatives. Thank you, ma.
    As a good daughter I thought perhaps I should get a replacement SS card for her, and fondly recall sending a slip from the PO here to SS to get my new one, when I got married.


    They wanted her 'original" documents, including her immigration papers, birth certificate, marriage license, on and on and on. And since I was asking FOR her, they wanted all my stuff too.
    Then I realized that if this gets lost in the mail, we're whipped. If you don't have it, you can't get it. I passed, and most places were cool with it. Thank goodness.

    Question: why do you need a valid driver's license to fly??

  11. It's the new federal Real ID program. If your state doesn't implement the program, you have to have a passport to fly domestically.

  12. It seems typical these days that they want more and more info and yet crooks seem to be able to steal ID in a flash .


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