Take a number, you are not ‘ballad’


By Allan Erickson

Does this fall under the Reagan category of the nine most terrifying words known to man:  “I’m with the government. I’m here to help you.”

I recently went to get my Oregon driver’s license renewed.  (Anyone know why we have to renew anyway?  Revenue, revenue, revenue!) I’ve had a license here for 16 years.

Renewing one used to be easy, but now, it is like pulling rhino teeth on a dead run. 

First, I was greeted at DMV by customer service, a fellow who seemed nice enough, aside from the fact his accent was so thick, useful communication was seriously limited. Speaking English was not a qualification?  I kept pressing “1” but it didn’t help.

Preparing for my DMV visit, I read the notification stating I had to present the following to RENEW my driver’s license:  1) a birth certificate, 2) proof you have a Social Security number, and 3) proof of U.S. residence.   (Is this how we are going to catch and release Al Qaeda operatives now?)

I called DMV in Salem and asked why all these new requirements.  The story I got was State Officials decided they had made a mistake issuing licenses to illegal aliens so they stopped that program, and determined that to be sure only verified citizens drive legally, DMV had to back track everybody, even those of us issued licenses prior to the State granting them to illegals. 

In other words, the government created the problem, then, in trying to solve the problem, it made it worse, at higher cost!

I asked: wouldn’t it have been more cost effective/efficient just to double check all licenses granted during the time you authorized illegals?  “Yes” was the blank-faced answer.  (Damn my brain for thinking the obvious.)

So, I arrived at DMV with all my documents, took a number, and waited, but I never made it to the window.  I was turned away by the non-English speaking customer service fellow. He said my birth certificate was not “ballad.”  I’d showed him the certificate from the hospital with my baby foot prints stamped on the back, a notarized document, original ink, the whole bit.  He said that wasn’t good enough. 

He said I had to have a “gubermend  ishooed  birph  surf-ti’ficat  froom  bidol  weycurds.” 

I said:  “Huh?” 

He said:  “Dat surf-ti’ficat iz dee soobenear frum dee ‘ospshpital, id iz nut ballad. Jew mus shew de gubermend ishooed surf-ti’ficat.”

I said:  “What?”  Then I appealed to the U.N. for assistance, wondering if they’d issue me one of those ear muffins.

Another DMV worker came to my rescue and translated: you have to show us the county-issued certification of birth.  I said I don’t have that.  He said you have to write to the records department in the county where you were born, pay the fee, and get the document.  I said ok, but this is crazy.   (There was a flash, and I thought somebody in a trench coat had taken my picture, but that was just paranoid, although on the drive home I kept checking my mirror.)

So, I called and I wrote the county clerk in Illinois were I was born, sent a money order (checks not accepted, HA!) and a request, and in about two weeks I got the official, required, substantiated certificate proving I was born in 1953 in Illinois.  Yeah!

I returned to DMV.  This time I made it past ‘customer service.’

The woman at the window appeared irritated I interrupted her nail filing. She looked through my papers, scrutinizing the birth certificate with great care, then squinting over her glasses at me, she said: “Hey, where is the proof of Social Security?”

I handed her documents from the Social Security administration showing my full account payments, my name, my address—but for security reasons, the documents only showed the last four digits of my social security number.  She said she was very, very sorry, but these documents were not sufficient proof.  She insisted she had to see the whole social security number.  Then she resumed filing her nails.

I almost had a  gobermend  ishooed  bidol  weycurds  meltdown right there on the linoleum.  (There was another flash, but I think that one was behind my eyes.)

With all the self-control I could muster, locking my elbows as I shoved my fists in my pockets, I asked in a calm, syrupy voice, smiling all the way:

“Excuse me, please, thank you very much. I don’t have a card anymore.  What would be sufficient proof of social security?”

She instructed: “Bring a tax return showing the full number.”

Driving home, it occurred to me that anyone can easily forge a tax return.  But what the heck, she was only doing her job, right?  Then, I checked my mirror and decided to take the back road home.

With tax return, birth certificate and utility bills in hand, plus the deed to my house, and my first born in a kennel carrier, just for back up, I walked into DMV for the third time, to renew my license.   This time, I got renewed!  

And yes, the picture is terrible.

I wonder what will happen in 5 years when I need my gall bladder removed?   “Take a number and come back in two years!”  At least when I’m dead I won’t have to renew my license anymore, and somebody else can collect my social security.  All things do work together for good!

Now, to top it off, Mr. Obama can become president without even showing a birth certificate, but, I can’t renew my license without giving a pound of flesh and proving my natural born status two ways.

We must have entered The Twilight Zone.  It’s the only explanation that makes sense.  Take a number.


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