family life, women

A license with a side of fries

“I sighed. I hated the maze of bureaucracy with a passion, but I’ve found the best way to deal with it is to smile and act stupid. That way, no one gets confused.” Kim Harrison, American author

Few situations threaten my Christian witness more than a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s a layered problem. First, this is the DMV we’re talking about.

Second, my husband and I have moved a fair bit. Remembering each state’s way of doing things is difficult. There have been so many times one of us has had to drive the half hour home in defeat because of the lack of a document of some kind that I now prepare for a license renewal as if I were being called before Congress.

So, when my mom, who reads the news more vigilantly than I, said the DMV was opening a branch office at a local gas station, I was, well, skeptical. This particular gas station is one of those cool ones, with lots of shiny surfaces, more coffee varieties than Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme donut dispenser. It’s also so full of cars and people that it’s already difficult to do just about anything, let alone renew a license.

Remembering our struggles to get the paperwork right, however, I decided to give it a shot. The gas station’s only two blocks away and, this time, all we needed was a photo ID for my mom. She gave up driving when she moved to a place where there roads are so curvy and hilly it is sometimes actually true that you can’t get there from here. How difficult a simple ID possibly be?

Ho, ho, ho, I know you’re thinking. And, you’re right. I knew we were in trouble as soon as we got there. The “branch office” turned out to be a colorful, ATM-like kiosk, located  right across from where one can special order snack foods.

It took both of us plus my 12-year-old daughter to figure out the various screens. I’m not sure if that says something about our family or, well, the DMV, but how were we to know with any certainty whether an “X” or a check means “no?” How were we supposed to discuss the last four numbers of mom’s social without announcing them to the room?

At one point, I must have done something completely unacceptable. A “game over” sign popped up and the kiosk made that sound that old video-game machines used to make when Pac Man turned ghost. (My husband calls this kind of writing “lying.” I call it “color.”)

We ultimately succeeded. A second run through achieved our goal and we didn’t even need to take a government-approved selfie, which the machine is capable of doing. Can you imagine that — a license photo with a blurry image of some stranger eating nachos beyond your shoulder?

Whatever. Mom’s ID is in the mail, due any day now. As is a side of chili-cheese fries.

A reminder: My new fiction title Dune Girl is now available as an e- book for Kindles, smart phones and tablets at A summary and more details are under the Books On Kindle button on my menu. 🙂



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