Yesterday, Boo and I went to the tag agency right after school. I knew it would be busy, since it's close to the end of the month and this was the day they're open late. We took a number (87) and sat down.
Oh dear. This is going to be a long wait.* I pulled out my iPhone for Boo to play tic tac toe and settled in for the long haul. After 10 or 15 minutes, the owner** of the agency walked into the waiting area, waving a sheath of blue forms, and announced that if anyone was here to renew their driver's license, they could go ahead and fill out their forms while they wait. I told her that my child needed an ID for the first time and asked if there was a form I could start filling out.
Now, here is where I must confess that I made a major error. Because when I called the tag agency previously and asked about the affidavit, and was told "you can just come in and sign it," I neglected to ask "When you say 'come in,' do you mean come to the building where you are right now? Or do you mean come to some completely different building on the other side of town?" Because if I had asked that question, I would not have been so surprised at the owner's response.
"Oh, this is a two-step process. You have to go to the driver's license testing facility first."
You're kidding. Why didn't anyone tell me this when I called yesterday?
"I don't know (and I'm not going to say I'm sorry, you can't make me!) but you have to go there first. It's on FarFromHere Street."
(I do have to admit that I knew about the testing facility and knew I would have to go there first to get a driver's license. Was I really supposed to make the leap that if I simply needed an ID that didn't involve permission to drive that I still had to go to the facility that exists for the purpose of testing people for their driver's license? Is it me?) Luckily, Mayberry is small enough that FarFromHere Street, while being on a different edge of town, was still not too far. If we had waited until Number 87 was called, and then found out that we were in the wrong place, we probably wouldn't have made it there before they closed. But since our tag agency is All About The Customer Service, we were in luck. So, in we go, birth certificate in hand, ready to get this taken care of.
"Do you have her social security card?"
No, I was told I didn't need to have it, they said I could sign an affidavit-
"No, that's fine. You don't have to have her card. I just need her number. I can't start a file without her social security number."
Oh, crap. This one is totally on me. I should have known I'd need that (even though our state no longer allows you to use your SSN as your DLN).
"Is there anyone you can call? Your tax accountant or something?"
Yeah, my tax accountant, right. Hello, Mr. Turbo Tax? However, I can call my dad, who needed her SSN at one point for a college fund. Please be home. And he is. Do you happen to have Boo's SSN handy?
"Yef, burble murfle."
"Holon, godda durna puteron."
You're breaking up, I can barely understand you.
"Dat's caweye wenna dennif."
Dentist? I'm sorry. What did you get done?
"A wot!" (And I inherited my dad's teeth... straight but seriously flawed... so this is what I have to look forward to.) But he has managed to durna puteron and look up Boo's SSN. I suppose at some point I'll have to look up an old tax return (because I looked for her social security card and that is simply Not Going To Happen) and see if the number I heard bears any resemblance to her actual number. Anyway! Her picture is taken, her fingerprints are taken (boy, this is going to be awkward if the person whose SSN we actually used decides to commit a crime), she signs the electronic line, and we are ready to go. She is rather hesitant to put her finger on the scanner, and keeps examining her fingertip after we leave, as if looking for evidence that it was burned.
Back to the tag agency! On the way there, I speculate that I should have kept Number 87 because they probably didn't get to it yet. But when we get there, we pick up Number 100 and see that they are already on Number 95. Things are looking up! The gods continue to smile upon us when our number is called, as the clerk is someone I know from when I was her frequent customer at Moto Photo. She is as sweet as can be, comments on how much Boo has grown, actually apologizes for having to have my driver's license number when I write a check, and just generally makes the whole experience a lot more pleasant. (And as a small bit of serendipitious Small Town Syndrome, she is also the sister of my father's dentist.)
So, the ID is obtained. The trip to the Big City where the Grand Piercings shall take place is planned for tomorrow. Let's see if our good fortune continues.
*It would have been an even longer wait than our number suggested. While there, I saw a colleage who pointed out that she'd seen several people pointedly ignore the number system, go up to the counter to "ask a question," and then get served while they were there, thereby jumping the line. I think the only appropriate way to deal with these people is to allow those who actually waited in line to take that pile of license plates behind the counter and use them to inflict countless small but very painful cuts on the perpetrators. Or, you know, just shoot them.
**Yes, you'd think a tag agency would be run by the government, but it's not. It's owned by an individual who collects the fees and taxes and somehow makes a profit. It's a Bad Thing. And if you think it would be less efficient and more ridiculously bureaucratic if run by the government, you are sorely mistaken, my friend.