When the envelope containing my new driver’s license arrives from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, I will be opening it with extreme trepidation. At this point in my life, I am beyond caring what the photo on the license looks like. I have had several licenses in my life, none of which had photos that I was proud of. But, I am well past the age of being carded; the only time I have to show my license any more is when I fly, which is almost never. Besides, why care what a TSA agent thinks of me and my picture? Just so they don’t single me out for the strip-search, I am good.
This year, though, I might have to lose the license and go in for a replacement. If you are in my general age demographic, you might remember the character on The Carol Burnett Show where Carol is the airhead secretary, Mrs. Wiggins, who spends most of her time filing her nails and whose dense incompetence aggravates boss Tudball. That was the DPS worker who handled my renewal. Except this one didn’t have a fancy outfit, a big blonde wig or bright red nails. Mrs. Wiggins in tee-shirt and jeans, with a short unkempt hairstyle.
After dispatching with the person ahead of me, Mrs. W. had some trouble with a printer from which she extracted a cartridge that she waved it around with a puzzled look on her face. Then she turned her back on me and sorted some papers for an eternity. Okay, it was more like a minute, but it’s my story. I can take poetic liberties if I want. And eternity is a relative term, according to me. Especially when I am waiting in line at the DPS.
Meander on to the part where my unappealing photo is taken. I plaster a big phony grin on my face. I’ve learned that when I think I’m giving a big smile it comes off as a sarcastic smirk, so I really work at this one. My cheeks start to hurt. I stand there and Mrs. Wiggins fiddles and pushes a button and I stand there some more. Nothing happens for yet another eternity (minute. see above). I start looking around the room. A light flashes, there is a click and Mrs. W. looks at a screen. “Owwwwwwww, hmmmmmmm”, she says with a note of wonderment in her voice. “I got your picture”. And I am thereby dismissed.
Did I detect a mean-spirited note of triumph in Mrs. W.’s voice, or was it my own paranoid imaginings? I doubt my new license will come before Halloween, but I have the feeling that it will be plenty scary.