Proving Citizenship

Whether we realize it or not, when we get a driver’s license or voter registration card, we are proving our citizenship to the state officials who govern such things. At my age, you’d think this would be an easy task — I’ve had driver’s licenses in two states, have travelled overseas so have had passports, and have never missed voting in an election since age 18. Here’s what happened to me.

Checking things off on my various lists, I knew it was important to get a driver’s license, register the car, and get my car insurance transferred from Florida to Pennsylvania. I happily gathered all the documents that the Pennsylvania website said I needed to confirm my identification, put them all in a folder, and headed into the nearby town of Milford. This took organization because the driver’s license office is only open on Thursdays for 6 hours! I stood in line for about an hour when the person heading the office worked his way along the line asking people what they needed and checking that they had the appropriate documentation. This is also the place where the state issues photo id’s to those not eligible or not wanting a driver’s license. He approached me and I wished him a good morning. He looked at my folder filled with documents and declared that my birth certificate was not “official.” I replied that this is what I have used my whole life and that I had a license and registration from Florida, to which he replied, “This is not Florida.” Hmmmm. I knew then that I was in trouble since I was well aware that I was no longer in Florida! Furious, I drove home and looked for my passport which is among the missing from the move, but took my old passport with me as proof. Again, I stood in line, waited and again was told that the documents were not valid.

As I approached my car to go home and drink heavily, I realized that getting a passport was my only option to prove that I am, indeed, a citizen of the United States (the person in front of me getting a photo id so he could work construction, by the way, bragged that he was a felon!). I went into the Milford Post Office where the young woman at the counter told me, “You need Bill.” Bill is the “passport guy,” and he had some very strong words for the manager of the driver’s license office, and immediately agreed to help me. I Went across the street to the car registration office which takes the passport photos (don’t smile whatever you do!). I filled out the passport application, although all I had was one from 1973 (that elicited A LOT of comments from Bill about my appearance), and Bill wrote a lot of notes to some nameless faceless person in Harrisburg on the application. I paid extra to expedite the process and left encouraged that all would be well. And it was. Less than 10 days later, I received my passport in the mail (at the mailroom of course).

So…I headed down to Milford on the first Thursday after receiving my passport to get my license. Again, I stood on line and the same man came to inspect my documents. Unfortunately, he said, I had two different addresses on my proof of insurance (see the last post!), so I explained how it all works at Hemlock Farms. He was “very familiar with communities like this,” he said and I was off again this time to the insurance agent’s office (which thankfully is in Milford) to get a statement with only one address on it! The women there had the same words for the man at the license office as did Bill!! Finally, back on line again, and he let me pass. Got the license and my voter registration card at the same desk/same line. Somehow I felt like I was victorious over the forces of evil, but all I did was transfer my driver’s license from Florida to Pennsylvania.

3 replies on “Proving Citizenship”

  1. Donna says:

    The older I get, the easier it is for me to let the Cranky Old Lady that has lived inside since I was a small child out. It helps that I am now an official Cranky Old Lady. I truly felt for you,but I feel you should have cussed them. It wouldn’t have helped, in fact, it would have made matters worse, but I really wish you had cussed them.

    Donna (Every time I hear ‘we need to return the power to the States, I think of the South Carolina Highway Department, and I shudder.)

  2. sksweaver says:

    I’ve always found it unfortunate that the best stories come out of the most aggravating situations. And the man at the license agency appears to have quite the fan club. Makes me think of mosquitos. Tiny and inconsequential in the bigger picture but OH SO ANNOYING!

  3. RachelNYC says:

    I still find this story wholly infuriating and unbelievable. I admire your restraint in not killing or maiming anyone during this process…I can see the cartoon steam coming out of your ears!