Take a picture, it’ll last six years

I had been putting it off for a couple of months.

It wasn’t I was lazy, or I didn’t think it was important, I was afraid it would be impossible.

But I was running out of time. Because of the pandemic, I had been given a 60-day extension but my 60 days were about up so I was going to have to act.

But I was afraid.

What I needed to do was renew both the license plates for my car AND my driver’s license.


In our town the motor vehicle place was closed for a couple of months when folks were in lock-down mode. But sometime in May it reopened.

So I knew sooner or later I was going to have to make the trek to the motor vehicle place.

Unlike other motor vehicle places I’ve heard about, the one in our town is actually quite nice and the people who work there are friendly and courteous.

Well, as friendly and courteous as you can be working at a motor vehicle place.

Have you spent much time in a motor vehicle place? Have you seen some of the people who go there?

If I worked in a motor vehicle place, I would greet every person like this, “WHAT!!!??? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT!!!???”

That’s right. Working at a motor vehicle place would be so bad I would use both exclamation points and question marks.

Just gathering up the necessary paperwork to renew license plate tags and a driver’s license is exhausting. Here’s what I needed to do to renew my car plates.

Find our property tax receipts for 2018 and 2019. Since we always mean to but always forget to keep our property tax receipts, this requires a trip to the county courthouse. When you walk into the property tax receipts place all you have to do is say “I need a cop…” and the clerks will nod their heads and say, “That will be $2 please.”

Then I have to find the proof of insurance card that is supposed to be the glove box in my car. When I looked in the glove box, I found every proof of insurance card dating back to 2014.

Except the one I needed.

This required a phone call to our insurance office. When I said “I’m trying to renew my car ta…” the nice woman laughed and said, “I’ll print one out and leave it at the front desk.”

But all of that was child’s play compared to what I had to do to renew my driver’s license. Nowadays in order to use your driver’s license to board a plane, you have to get what is called a “Real ID”.

To get a “Real ID” I needed my birth certificate or my passport. I also needed either my social security card or a tax form with my social security number on it. I also needed two pieces of paper proving I live at the address I have lived at for nearly 20 years.

Last Wednesday, after rounding up everything I needed, I made my way to the motor vehicle place. In the hallway,  I found a signup sheet telling me to sign in, leave my cellphone number and wait in my car.

One hour and 45 minutes later my phone rang and I was called inside. I gave the nice lady the stuff to get my license plates renewed. After renewing my license plates the lady had me move over the driver’s license desk. I gave her my paperwork. She looked at it. Then she looked at me. Then she looked at the paperwork again.

“Everything is fine,” she said.

I almost started sobbing.

Then I took the eye test and the traffic sign test. I aced both like Trump acing a not-being-senile test.

Finally, the lady had me sit in front of a camera, took my picture and just like that my long nightmare was over.

Well, I thought it was over until, on the way to my car, I glanced at my driver’s license photo. A photo I will have to live with for the next six years. When I saw the photo I started laughing.

Very hard.

Here is why.

my horrible driver's license photo
This is only the B/W temporary copy. The color version, I’m told, will look even worse. I  call it my “Nick Nolte Mug-Shot” look.


I’ll give you a few minutes to stop laughing.


The irony is I went to the extra trouble to get a “Real ID” so I can use it to board airplanes. But now when the TSA guy looks at that photo and then looks questionably at me, I’ll have to say, “Oh wait,”.

Then I’ll have to mess up my hair before they’ll let me through.


Maybe I’ll just stay home for the next six years.