I waited until the last minute to renew my driver license, not so I could spend the whole of my birthday at the DMV, but because I am a dolt. I’ve decided that the DMV is a lot like the post office, but-cept people have to stand in line much longer and are therefore angrier by the time they get called. Also, the stink. And the lack of stamps.
I went to the suburbs, thinking the lines would be shorter. I thought wrong; the place was packed. They were calling “#73” when I walked in and my number was 34. I hoped they started over at 100 and not 1,000.
Since I had all my paperwork and identification ready, I was allowed to go straight to the express line, which was supposedly shorter and moved faster. I don’t know what was “express” about my line, because I stood there forever before it ever moved. I knew there was a problem when I heard an old guy 17 spaces in front of me yell, “Since when do you need to see my birth certificate?” and I thought OH LORD, I’M NEVER GOING TO SEE THE FRONT OF THIS LINE AND I’M GOING TO DIE HERE ON MY BIRTHDAY. They would totally cover that up in the obituary, too—that’s how our government agencies conspire against us.
Mr. Too-Old-To-Be-Driving-Anyway stomped off to find his proof of birth, and the line started to move again. When it was my turn, Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #1 was surprisingly smiley and sweet (prob’ly because I had all the documentation I needed—A+ for Jen!). After looking at my papers, she said HAPPY BIRTHDAY! but I detected a tone of snark in her voice, as though she was chiding me for waiting until the last minute to renew my license and was barely holding in YOU WOULDN’T BE SPENDING YOUR BIRTHDAY IN SUCH A MISERABLE PLACE IF YOU’D PLANNED BETTER.
It didn’t take long, and she told me to go to Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #2’s counter for my photo. Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #2 told me to look into a little square below the camera lens and wait four seconds. It flashed and she said I could stand up. She started pushing a bunch of keys on her keyboard and said, “I’m gonna need to take another picture” and asked me to sit again. This time she told me to put my chin down a little, and four seconds later I got up again. She was chatty about the weather and then interrupted herself and said, “Hang on.” She went to the counter next to her and asked Mr. Nice Guy DMV Person #3 a question. He answered “no,” and directed her to Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #4, who also said “no.” Finally, Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #5 said that YES, she could override the system.
I heard that and was all, WTF?
What’s so wrong with my picture that it requires an override?
Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #5 came down to Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #2’s counter and asked me to sit and look at the square below the camera lens. Then she said LEAN FORWARD. I leaned forward. She said MORE. I leaned more. She said to turn my face a bit to the right. Too much. A little more. Chin up. Down. Down more. Then the camera flashed.
I stood up, thinking that was pa-lenty of DMV photos for Jen for one day! And Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #5 said quietly to Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #2, “Yes, I’ll have to override the system. It doesn’t think she has a face.”
I said, “Wha-a-a-t?” Yep, four syllables. “Wha-a-a-t? It doesn’t think I have a face?”
Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #2 stared at me and waited for Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #5 to answer. AS IF I WASN’T JUST ABOUT TO FA-REAK OUT OVER WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FACE BETWEEN THE MOMENT I WALKED IN THE DMV DOOR AN HOUR EARLIER TO NOW.
Miss Nice Lady DMV Person #5 finally said, “Our facial recognition software is comparing this picture to the one from 2004 and it doesn’t think you’re the same person. We just have to assure it that you are.”
I asked why the software didn’t think I was still me, and she said, “Probably your curls.” (Stoopid cancer.) I think I heard her mutter something after that, and I’m not entirely sure she said AND ALSO THE ZITS AND THE GREY HAIR AND THE WRINKLES AND THE MUSTACHE but I totally bet you she did.