After you move, there’s a very short moment when no one knows where you live. Sort of a Zen thing: you’re in the Here and Now except only you know where Here is. The moment is fleeting. You want your friends and family to be able to contact you. People to whom you owe money get very nervous when bills are returned marked “Addressee Unknown.” Then there are all your friends at the IRS and the DMV, whom you’re legally required to inform in a timely manner.
I’ve found the best way to communicate with government agencies is by mail, over the Internet, any way you can where you’re not physically in the their presence. This approach cuts down drastically on the use of handcuffs. Besides, I don’t know if the IRS even has offices and the last time I visited the DMV I broke out in hives.
Changing my address online with the DMV was suspiciously simple … until the end. After accepting my address change, I was advised: “Type or write in ink your new address on a small piece of paper, sign and date it. Carry this piece of paper with your license. Do not tape or staple the change of address information to your driver license.”
Simple enough, until someone asks for a photo ID; a handwritten address paper-clipped to your license just doesn’t have that ring of authenticity merchants have come to expect. I decided to make an upclose and personal visit to the DMV. It went surprisingly well … until the end.
I took a deep breath and opened the DMV door. Opposite a room-wide counter, a couple of dozen chairs lined the wall. Paper-clutching individuals, heads bowed deferentially in the politically correct I-like-my-government-please-don’t-hurt-me posture, occupied all but two seats. A nice lady at the information desk gave me a two-page form on a clipboard, a next-in-line number (G159) and pointed me to the Group W bench — no, wait, that’s “Alice’s Restaurant.” Anyway, I sat down against the wall and proceeded to fill out the form.
“Item #1: PURPOSE OF YOUR VISIT.” The first part was a multiple-choice question under an area marked “Driver License (DL).” “Change/add class” was the only choice that fit my situation so I firmly checked that box with the “Black Ink Only” pen the nice information lady had given me. Then I noticed, next to “Driver License,” another area under Item #1 titled “Name/Change correction.” Damn!
“Ready for G157.” The pressure was on. Fortunately, the remaining seven parts of the form were yes-no questions. The only item that took time was medical — have I experienced any of the following conditions: loss of consciousness, epilepsy, stroke, cataracts, Parkinson’s disease, drug abuse … CATARACTS! I have one of those (I’ve always been old for my age visually). Really doesn’t bother me, just a little fuzziness in part of my field of vision — though, at night, every light looks like a Christmas-tree decoration. I never dropped acid but I imagine the visual effect is similar. Damn! I should’ve gotten a note from my eye guy: “Johnny has a little cataract, but he drives fine.” Too late now. I checked “no” on the form.
“G158.” Finished with the form, I glanced around the room. There were filing cabinets, paper stacks, eye charts, computer consoles … EYE CHARTS! Are they going to ask me to take an eye test? I instinctively covered one eye and looked at the chart on the back wall: total blur except for the big “E.” OK, that’s why I wear glasses. But what if the cataract blurs my vision just enough so I can’t quite see the line they ask me to read? I’ll be standing there holding my hand over one eye while the tester will be standing there holding my license! If I need to take an eye test, and I fail, will they give me a “fix-it” grace period? Can surgery be scheduled in time? Will I face federal perjury charges for lying on my application? Will Jeff Skilling on Enron fame make fun of me in the Big House? Will I be allowed to drive myself home? Will an officer-of-the law escort me in a squad car?
“G159.” That was my signal to leave. On my way out, I trashed the DMV form with the two checkmarks on Item #1. What I need now is a small piece of paper, an ink pen and a paper clip.
P.S. If you’re interested the cataract was dealt with at a later time: