Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The most surreal experience of my life.

Or perhaps just the most fucked up. I'm still debating.

So this morning, I go over to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Faraway Branch, to get a new driver's license. I knew going in it would be a long and bothersome experience, because I'd let my license expire (a long, long, LONG time ago... whoops) and would have to take a written test followed by a driving test. It's okay. I've done this before. My licenses always expire because I never get pulled over and I forget about them. (My last speeding ticket was in 1991. Last I heard, I had the only perfect score for a driving test in Pearl City.)

Right. So over I go, with the husbeast driving so they can't arrest me for driving, to Faraway Branch. I present my DoD identification. They tell me it isn't good enough. They want a birth certificate.

To get that Department of Defense ID, I had to have a BACKGROUND CHECK. By the FBI. The US Navy knows more about me than I do myself. HELLO. But it isn't good enough.

Away we go to County Seat of the Next County Over to get a copy of my birth certificate. (Damn lucky I'd been born nearby for this fun experience and I wasn't trying it in, say, South Carolina.) I go to the Health Department. I fill out a little form with my full name and date of birth. They give me a certified copy of my birth certificate in exchange for sixteen dollars. NO IDENTIFICATION WHATSOEVER IS REQUIRED FOR THIS PIECE OF PAPER.

(Oh, and I'm adopted, right? So there's two birth certificates on record, and by law I can't see the one with my original, 'real' genetic parents' names unless I sue the state for the information. I'm standing there, and the clerk is looking me up, and the clerk says "Birth mother from Oklahoma?" and I gaped at her for a few seconds and said "I have no idea. I'm adopted." and she cringed hideously and began pounding on the keyboard. I eventually got a copy with my proper - adoptive - parents' names like I legally should have.)

Back we go to BMV, Far Away Branch. I present the birth certificate, and all of a sudden they're really helpful. IT IS A WORTHLESS PIECE OF PAPER I NEEDED NO IDENTIFICATION TO GET, YET IT IS MORE VALID THAN A DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PHOTO ID. I take the test, blah blah, more big issues about whether they can waive my driving test because I'm a dependent of someone in the military (suddenly they notice this after I present a birth certificate). I take the written anyway. They agree to call me and let me know.

On the way home, they call and say it can't be waived, but I can pick up my official, I Passed The Test Permit Thingie at the BMV, Local Branch. So we detour to Local Branch. There, I present my needed-a-background-check DoD ID. It is sniffed at. The clerk demands a birth certificate. I hand it over and the next thing I know, I have photo ID from the State of Ohio.

All on the authority of a piece of paper anyone with sixteen dollars, my name, and birth date could get.

Is it me, or does this make no fucking sense whatsoever?


amy said...

It's actually a little scary. Let's see, I've gotten copies of all three kids' birth certificates, two in one town and one in another but all in the same state. I can't remember getting the first kid's, since that was 7 years ago, but the younger two, which are the two in the same town, I had to show an ID to prove I was their mother. So perhaps Ohio is just a bit lax?

Now, the "locator card" I had to get for school... for that I had to swear 16 ways I was their mother, had custody, and they lived with me in the district. I found it kind of Big Brotherish. I needed their birth certificates to get the cards, and I needed to bring the cards to the school, which ALSO had to have a copy of their birth certificates. Which I'd had to show. To get the locator card. To bring to the school.

ellen in indy said...

gee -- if i didn't know better, i'd think you were living in indiana.

our "proof" rules were supposed to get even worse in july. finally the gov realized the license branches were over their chaos quotas already and postponed the new requirements -- intended to prevent terrorism, i guess.

did it ever occur to anyone that such bureaucratic hassles are the kind of thing that drive people around the bend?

good luck with the driving test. (oh -- and here, the car has to be clean. very clean. or no test.)

stella said...

for the last few years i've been navigating the corporate/governmental worlds with a new philosophy... 'remove all reason and logic from the decision making process and there's your answer'

it's really made life a lot easier when you know what to expect...

- stella (serial blog lurker, occasional commenter)

Roz said...

Gosh. I can just imagine what happens when I have to go to the VA DMV to get my new RealID license in a few years... I'll take some knitting to keep me sane.

Sarah said...

It's a pain here too and that is just ridiculous how easy it was to get your birth certificate. I've always had to show my ID for myself and my kids birth certificates.

Now the bank on the other hand to get my name changed is stupid. For my driver's license and my SS card I had to show proof of marriage for my name change, neither of those are good enough to change my name in their records. Stupid.

I wish you luck on your test, I'm sure you'll do fine.

KG from FB said...

A few years ago my sister was (temporarily) married to a guy and lived in New Jersey. She, with zero picture ID from her former state, had gotten a NJ Learner's Permit on the strength of a student picture ID, a fresh marriage license and a written test. They then went to Florida on vacation and she walked into their local DMV (or equivalent) and got a Driver's Licence with only a written test.

The real kicker is that she was adopted and her "new" birth certificate listed her adoptive parents as if they were her birth parents. So after she came back to the west coast and had to show her birth certif. for ID she was driving legally after two written tests, no previous ID and no driving test, with a Driver's Licence that clearly described her as "Caucasian". She is Korean by birth. What a world!

Deana said...

haha thats ohio for you.

Last time I tried to take my driver's permit test, they wouldnt allow me to even take the test because of "insufficient proof of residence".

My fucking address is not only on my state ID, but its also on the 10 documents I presented (including student loan mailings, credit cards, gas bill, etc!) but somehow... it wasn't enough.

Oh, and they dont accept cash. Or debit, credit. Check only. No money order- just check.

Now, flash back a few years when I signed up for furthering my education at the Art Institute. I needed the following to be admitted:

-State ID.

Yep. Thats it. No birth certificate, nothing. Just a state ID with a valid photo. That's it!

*mutters* its so ass backwards its almost comical.

Come to pittsburgh, I need someone to hang out with and rant about stupid shit. K?

Word of the day: Reegony. When Agony isn't enough, its reegony. Agony to the second power.

missleya said...

When I got my SS card updated from getting married the ONLY piece of anything I needed to show was my marriage certificate.

Only thing.


It disturbed me.

Amy Lane said...

Wow. I'm a little flabbergasted... bureaucracy at it's most sublime.

shadowbat said...

Here in the UK, if you look under the age of 25 (legal age is 21!) you can't buy a pack of cigarette with a EU member state's id card. Not even with a foreign passport, only with a british. You can cross borders - even with the id card wich has english text on it too - but to buy tobacco, you need to get a special "proof of age" card.

It's good to hear though that big-brother-ish attitude isn't a local madness. We starting to get a bit paranoid in this side of the pond.

Anonymous said...

don't know why, but thought u might enjoy this site - this guys dad is hilarious. seems it might be up your alley. made me laugh til i cried


* Name Justin
* Bio I'm 28. I live with my 73-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down shit that he says

"How the fuck should I know if it's still good? Eat it. You get sick, it wasn't good. You people, you think I got microscopic fucking eyes."


Louiz said...

Here in the uk you need photo id for most things - but to get photo id, you need a birth certificate. You can order one on-line if you know where and how. Once you have that, you can apply for all sorts of id. Which is obviously really secure if the basis of it is something you don't need id for. Which is basically what you were saying.

David said...

last time I had to take the written driver's test I also scored a perfect 100%, I keep it in my wallet and take it out to show people I just met...

Alwen said...

All the branches are Faraway Branches, these days.

Locally, they are even talking about moving the district court 45 miles away. Because it will save so much money if everybody involved has to drive 90 miles round trip!

Donna Lee said...

NJ has a "points" system for identification to get a coveted drivers' license. Birth certs are worth 4 points and SS cards are worth 1 and so on. You have to have 6 points of ID. If you're a married female? That has to include an official marriage license. Not the church one but the county/town one.(to show name change) Fortunately, we were married nearby but it cost me 10 dollars for that form (I don't know why we didn't have one, they don't provide it as a matter of course, you have to ask for it and we didn't know it existed).
I have my digital drivers' license and now when I renew it? Just one other id. No points. "You're already in the system".

It's the school of "let's make it as hard as possible"

Sarah said...

The birth certificate really isn't proof of identification, it's proof of citizenship - it's just to prove that Julie Samurai was born in the United States. Generally, you also need a photo ID (ie, your DoD ID or a passport) to prove that YOU are Julie Samurai. Failing a photo ID most states will take some electricity bills or whatever in your name.

Here's the kicker: in most states, you don't need to be a US citizen or even naturalized to get a driver's license. A green card or even here in Texas a work visa is enough.

KnitTech said...

On the plus side, you was born here in the US. I, a military dependant, was born on a US Air Force base over in Germany. Complete US citizen. Yet, I have to provide the DDT/1803-99A*, everytime I go to do anything with changing my name. Since it's a government form, I can't get another certified copy until it's from Uncle Sam. When I called to get it, the number I gave (straight from the form) I was told is no longer valid. Lovely. So I feel your pain.

* Not the real number, but close enough

Roxie said...

So the moral of this story is: Don't let your license lapse! You can renew till you're 87 and stone blind if you just stay on top of things.

Catie said...

Unrelated but funny - Academic paper entitled When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection...

Go to http://www.mathstat.uottawa.ca/~rsmith/ and scroll down to publications for a pdf download. It is pretty funny and yet somewhat serious in that it is a well thought out model of an infectious disease that (likely) doesn't exist.

Bunny Queen said...

Many, many years ago I had someone refuse to take my DoD ID card as proof of identity for a check. They were however willing to take my college ID card. I can remember very politely explaining to the clerk, who had no authority over anything, that I knew it wasn't her fault but that she could be darned sure that management would be hearing about how idiotic (I'd use stronger words, but I'm posting from work...) this policy was and how it was a slap in the face to military members and families. The national chain in question does now accept DoD IDs, although it took several years for them to get their act together. *sigh*

Sarah said...

Ack, forgot to say that your DoD ID SHOULD be proof of citizenship too, no? I bet the clerk was wrong, and should have taken your ID. Then again, I live in a town with THREE military bases - a military ID is good enough for anything here.

Leonie said...

The thing is, if it's so easy to get a copy of your birth certificate, and then get a valid driver's licence, etc., is it any wonder that identity theft is rife??? Talk about making it easy for the thieves!!!

Emily said...

Doesn't this just make you itch to dream up ways to use all this nonsense to really mess with people? Seriously. Well...except I guess you could get arrested...but not if nobody found out.

Ye Merrie Quilter said...

No sense at all. Leave it to the government to make a valid piece of Identification so easy and so difficult to get.
So hello! I'm a new reader to your blog; an SCA member (20+ years) and knitting & quilting enthusiast. Looking forward to reading more, but I gotta do the runaround with the kids.

Anonymous said...

This isn't surreal. It's just a bunch of government red tape.