I was just reading a friend's blog post about the hassle he went through getting his lapsed Japanese Driver's License renewed. Expensive, painful, embarrassing and infuriating sums up the 3- or 4-post saga. Funny and pathetic sums up the posts. So it worked out for me, anyway.
It got me thinking about the need to renew my own Florida Driver's License next year. I've been thinking about it for over a year now. I expect parts of it to be a similar to my friend's overseas experience, only it will be conducted entirely in my first language. I'll endeavor not to lapse into my second language, which is a rather florid Sailor, bordering on Pirate, but I can't make any promises.
Florida has recently transitioned its Driver Licenses to REAL ID compliance. This means you have to have multiple documents verifying your home address and citizenship, and a fist full of cash.
Proof of citizenship. I have a birth certificate, which is good. Because my passport expired in 1997. I have a professional license, automobile registration, mortgage documents, voter registration card and W-2 forms. All terrific. Except for one tiny thing: my name is different on each one of these stupid documents.
When I got married I was 22. I kept my maiden name. Becuase it was a cool name, true, and because I was an intelligent, educated woman and I and was not going to define myself by....
I'm already bored with the explanation. But you get the picture. Mostly it was because I was 22.
When I got pregnant 10 years later, I started wondering what to do about names. I finally decided I would change over to my married name so that we would all have the same last name. I was, at that point, 32, and no longer worried about whether I was being repressed or subjugated by a male-dominated society. Mostly I was pregnant and I wanted a snack. Only people who got between me and food were considered repressive at that point.
So I went down to the DMV with my marriage certificate, which was always on hand. By this time I'd been working as a mental health and substance abuse counselor for several years, and had built up a little bit of a reputation. My licenses were under my maiden name, and I didn't want to give up that name-recognition. It's a cool name, did I mention? So I put both my last names on my Driver License. No change of number, since the first digit is your last initial. Just a new picture of me 8 months pregnant. That was lovely.
After the baby was born I got around to hauling my less-massive body down to the Social Security Office. This is where it all goes to hell. They told me that both names didn't fit in the last-name field on their computer system. Really? There's no one in the United States with a 14-letter last name? That can't be true. But they wouldn't let me do it, so I had them use my maiden name as my middle name, and off I went. Later I realized that now my Driver License and my Social Security Card don't match. And my professional licenses were only under my maiden name. Holy crap. Does this make me a criminal of some sort? I think I have aliases.
The professional licenses were easily enough sorted with a letter of request to change my name. That was a bit of a surprise, given the body-cavity-quality background checking they did to grant them in the first place. But people with non-complicated name changes have told stories of 3-trip run-arounds with the DMV, so I'm really dreading this. I should probably take a week off work to set it all up. There may be spot-lit interrogations involved.