In Which We Are ID’d


On April 5th 2020, my driver’s license expired. Perhaps you remember April of 2020. It was jam-packed with the excitement of a brand new pandemic and lockdown. To celebrate the plague, the Department of Motor Vehicles, everybody’s favorite branch of hell, shut down just days before I started vaguely thinking about renewing my license.

Eventually they sort of reopened, but only to deal with people who’d had an appointment before they locked down. That was not me. They would deal with that backlog first and then start whittling down the new backlog. I would occasionally check in with their website to see how the backlogs were going, but they were never interested in me. That was okay, it’s hard to scrape up a lot of enthusiasm about visiting the DMV. Plus their site had so little information about how you could get an appointment, it might as well have had a page that just said “Go away.”

So the anniversary of my expiration rolled around and I thought I would make another pass at renewing my license. Imagine my surprise when I was able to snag an appointment. The date was today, the place was the DMV office, and I was there.

San Francisco’s DMV office. A cinder block box with fluorescent lights, no windows, and a permanent fog of misery. In my previous experience with it, it had been crammed full of crazy losers who should never have been let loose near a car, let alone allowed to pilot one. But social distancing has actually benefited the joint by cutting down on the crowd, if not the craziness.

I’m pretty sure everyone goes into the DMV braced for some kind of tortuous living hell. But I have to say today was not bad. There were only two people in the line ahead of me for those of us with appointments, unlike the substantial one for people without appointments (aka “suckers”) and after I cleared that hurdle, I was able to sit down and wait. And not for very long.

The whole place was staffed with ladies (I always refer to males I don’t know as “guys” and females as “ladies.” That’s just the etiquette with which I handle the world.) ladies in masks and behind plexiglass shields. Since they were seated while I was standing up, it couldn’t have been harder for us to understand each other unless we had been performing in mime.

Nevertheless it all went astonishingly smoothly. I got through some checklist, squeaked through the eye exam, and got photographed. Fortunately, I was not hoping for some glamor shot. All I wanted was to look respectable, a look that said “Officer, I don’t know where all that cocaine came from.”

And then in the very final stage, the very last step, so close to being finished, it all went to hell. After the picture I was thinking “well that wasn’t so bad” when I got directed over to the kind of frustrating chaos everyone expects from the DMV.

The lines for entering into the written test area as well as exiting from it, the final step for those of us renewing, the last part of registering your car, and, I don’t know, maybe people who had just been bad all washed up together to make one aimless cranky mob.

I didn’t work for the government for almost 30 years without developing an instinct for avoiding that kind of trap. The two guys who’ve been in front of me in the photo line were obviously about to panic. How much sympathy did I have for them? I’ll give you a hint, it starts with z and it rhymes with zero. I cut them off, stepped around the scrum, and told the lady who was directing (hahahaha) the mayhem “The camera lady told me to go to window 32” as I walked past her.

The window 32 guy, who was serenely oblivious to the bedlam on the other side of his counter, stapled a bunch of papers together and handed them to me with a cheery “See ya.” Not if I can help it, buddy. Amazingly, the whole thing only took 42 minutes. Hopefully I will be dead by the time this new license expires and even if I’m not, I’m just going to pretend like I am.

Guys with a license to thrill:


I gotta go, my ride is here.

Suntan season is upon us. Are you ready?

Statuesque. shapely, and suckable. The 3 S’s.

I don’t care what he told you, this guy is not taking a nap.

neither is this one.

About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

7 responses »

  1. I don’t drive but I have to have a state ID or there’s a possibility I may be assumed a terrorist of some sort. I suppose it’s bad enough I still don’t have a cell phone. That’s usually greeted with an incredulous stare.

    My first experience of our version of the DMV was a nightmare. The place was packed with lunatics bouncing off the walls. Having a captive audience only added to the frenzy.

    After I escaped looked up online when to avoid this sort of thing. Read mid month, mid week in the morning. Following that advice the next time I had to go it was better.

    The last time I had to go was late July. They had us stand outside in a line. Someone walked down the line asking what we were there for and gave people the correct form they would need. Shocking! Heads should roll.

    I am now safe for another few years. Like you death would be preferable than to go there.


  2. Sound like a horrendous place – the closest I have come to this experience was at our local council offices a few years back when I had to queue with the great unwashed claiming housing benefit or paying rent in order to purchase some visitor parking permits. Thankfully everything of that nature – even, I believe, driving licences – is done online nowadays, so I’ll never have to go there in person ever again. It was like Hogarth’s illustration of Bedlam. Jx


    • The DMV’s website was insistent that you do everything online, even after the website said the combination of things I needed done had to be handled in person. I think the Venn diagram of me just had one to many circles in it.


  3. I could eat my dinner off number 3s belly.

    When I was a child I spent some time in a mental hospital, not as a patient you’ll be surprised to hear, as a visitor, my mother took me to see a relative who had severe post natal depression. The canteen there had the same blue flooring and white walls as your DMV office, those colours must have a calming effect on the psyche because everyone in there looked spaced out.


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