Opinion

Editor's Column: It’s driver’s license renewal time

Every seven years something bad happens. In biblical times the crops failed, locusts arrived and the Hittites attacked. In modern times, the end of seven years means it’s time to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew one’s driver’s license.

Seven years can go by in a flash. In fact, it seems like only yesterday that I walked into the Department of Licensing in Oak Harbor to renew my driver’s license. In those days, it had to be done every four years. The one honest thing the Legislature has done in recent years is to let drivers send in money and receive a three-year license extension. Three years ago I sent in 25 bucks and got an “O5” sticker for the back of my license, which the front says expires in ‘02. The state only wanted my money, it didn’t care if I was still fit to drive. I respect honesty like that.

But after seven years, one must still make a personal visit to the Department of Licensing. Presumably, the state wants to make sure that after seven years have elapsed we still have our wits about us, we can still read the appropriate line of print through the viewing machine and we can still look stupid for the photograph. They give you only one shot at it, and you know the resulting photo is going to be stuck in your wallet for the next seven years, good or bad, so it’s invariably bad. In my ‘98 photograph I’ve got an extra chin, the light reflecting off my glasses make me look like a zombie and the hairstyle looks like something from “Bad Cuts” magazine.

This year I’m hoping for a better picture, but fully expect to look even worse. I probably have three chins by now, as the weight reported in 1998 is approximately 30 pounds short of accurate. I lied back then, sticking with my 1994 weight (which was the same as the 1990 weight), and I will probably lie again this year unless in the interim they’ve place a scale next to the line on the floor where you stand for your photo. Hopefully I can get by with another bad photo and wildly inaccurate weight. In my experience, cops never ask if you really weigh as little as the driver’s license states. If they did, they’d have to Taser a lot more women.

I’ll have to decide again if I want to be an organ donar. Last time I told the licensing agent yes, but I wasn’t sure I had room in my car to carry around a Wurlitzer. Like most uniformed law officers, he wasn’t allowed to laugh at my jokes. Ever since I’ve worried about my organs. What if I die on the highway and the doctors can’t find a good one? Hey, anybody want a liver from a guy over 50 who hasn’t eaten a green leafy vegetable in six months? It would be quite embarrassing if there were no takers. If nobody wants your organs, do they just hand the rejects over to your spouse? What would my wife do with a bag of substandard organs? I worry about such things now, but probably won’t after the organs are removed.

I expect when I go in for my license after seven years, the line will be longer, the eye test fuzzier, the picture worse and the license costlier. But at least one thing hasn’t changed, according to my renewal notice: “Credit and debit cards are not currently accepted.” The state is approximately 25 years behind the times, just like my weight.

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