“Is that Cindy Crawford on your driver’s license?”

Categorized as 06/30/08 Goshen News column

This week it was my turn to pay some overdue attention to my own driving status. It was an alert customer service representative at a local store that pointed out the fact that my license had expired. Thinking I would run in first thing Monday morning to rectify the situation, I called to see what time they opened only to find out that they are closed on Mondays.

Suddenly, even a trip to the gas station was fraught with danger. Every policeman I passed seemed to be peering at me menacingly. My active imagination conjured up all manner of scenarios in which my treachery would be uncovered and I would be hauled off in leg irons with my stalwart husband sneaking in to the county jail under the cover of darkness to post bail.

If you’re wondering how on earth one could overlook an important little detail such as keeping a license current, I can explain. It’s very easy, actually. You just block it out.

The bottom line sticking point for me is not so much the lines and the waiting. It’s the picture. Admit it, now. You’ve never seen a good driver’s license picture, either, have you? In fact, I have long harbored a secret suspicion that the BMV actually sends its employees through a course called “Bad Picture Taking 101” or maybe “How to Make the Customer Look Like a Felon” before sticking them behind the camera.

A commercial that ran a few years back only served to heighten my paranoia about this whole issue. It featured a zombie-like hireling cycling innocent applicants through her picture taking station, repeating, “Smile, thank you. Smile, thank you,” over and over in an utter monotone. Next up is customer number 34, an old lady with her white hair piled in a bun on top of her head, cat eye glasses, cherry red lipstick, and a dour expression. The stone-faced employee reaches for the snack cake and upon crunching into it, breaks out with an earsplitting, “Woo-hoo!” As poor number thirty-four’s face contorts in shock and her eyebrows tangle up in her bangs, the camera clicks.

See? That’s exactly what I mean.

As I mentioned in an earlier column, another one of our own has been bitten by the driving bug and is chomping at the bit for a license of his own. He is no longer content to drive the mower despite its proven convenience as a get-away vehicle once when pursuit by his older brother sparked a flight of fear around the barn and through the garden. Unfortunately for him, his fifteenth birthday is still a month away, making private lessons
a good four to six weeks off. This is sheer torture for a boy, right up there with waterboarding or running out of peanut butter.

It didn’t help his mood the other day when we were running an errand and fell in behind a driver’s ed car being driven by someone from his grade at school. The fact that it was a girl – a girl! – only served to send his spirits plummeting to about the level of his shoelaces.

With bikes galore and three ripstiks thrown into the mix, not to mention the family van, a big, red truck, and the graduate’s car, there are plenty of tires parked here at any given time. Even the baby of the family is the proud owner of his own little set of wheels. One of his grandmothers gave him an adorable four-wheeled Radio Flyer for Christmas, and he has since become a very proficient little driver, navigating around furniture with ease. With one tiny thumb, he dings his silver bell as he scoots along, hauling the ever-present Blanky with him. Every once in awhile, he gets a wicked gleam in his eye, backs up, and takes aim, cracking me in the ankles with his ride. Then I do what any good law enforcement officer would do – I haul him up on assault and battery charges, suspend his license, and banish his Flyer to the back room.

I’ve had enough picture taking to last me another four years, which is when I’m due to appear again. Even as I raise my mocha in celebration, I’m already making plans for the next mug shot. If they won’t accept a bribe to Photoshop Cindy Crawford’s head in, then I’ll have the nine year old draw me in crayon. I don’t think the cops will notice, do you?

Tagline: Rhonda Schrock would like to say “thanks” to the good-natured BMV employee who took her picture and did a credible job, given what she had to work with.

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