Because I Said So

I recently received my permanent license to drive here. Evidently, the right privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the great state of Alaska does not automatically extend to here. Or does it? 🤔 I mean if I had been pulled over on my way to the DMV to obtain a new license, surely my AK license would have sufficed as proof to the attending officer of my legal permission to drive a car on any roadway in America. And other than my primary address, no other identifying information on the license has changed. So why do I need to surrender it and get a new license here? What does it matter to my license to drive where I live? Or for that matter my eye color and weight. Or what if I were homeless? At the very least why can’t I delay getting a new driver’s license until the existing one expires? Because the law says you have 30 days after you move, that’s why. Ah, I see. But wait, the law is an ass! Oh, and apparently you can’t possess more than one driver’s license at a time! I was reminded of this by the officious man at the DMV counter here, who tersely, though courteously, said prior to hole-punching my old license, “Before I can proceed, sir, I’ll need to invalidate the Alaska license.

On the new license there’s a thumbnail-sized photo of me – more a mugshot – in the upper right corner. I recall the man at the DMV counted down from three prior to snapping the picture. He was not the least bit amused by my query: could he instead use a selfie on my phone? Three seconds is hardly enough time to prepare the facial nerves to render a pleasing visage, one to be proud of, for instance, when the checker at the city market where we shop needs to see it to prove that, yes, I’ve been over twenty-one for over forty-two years now and thus may legally consume the bottle(s) of wine in our cart. (Btw, why 21? Because I said so that’s why!) Happy Wife chuckled when she saw the photo, said I looked like Uncle Fester. Ha ha, very funny, but just you wait HW, your thirty-day timer has started, and then three seconds is all you’ll get. And there are no do overs. It’s the law!

How is it we can be alive during a time when a simple scan of your face and an Internet connection can return every piece of personal information about you in seconds, but we’re still using a silly plastic card to prove our age, state of residence, and evidence we’ve passed some arbitrary test proving competency to operate a motor vehicle? I mean for chrissake, AI chatbots are being used today to inform physicians which arm of a clinical trial a given patient should be enrolled in based on the personal characteristics of their disease state. Yet the barcode scanner at the supermarket can’t confirm I’m over 21? Do we really need an officious busybody to swipe a card dangling from a lanyard around her neck to confirm approval on a touchscreen every time a bottle of booze is scanned – c’mon! She should be doing more customer-focused work, like re-ordering more of that Spanish Rioja I love. Automation – embrace it!

The new homestead

By night, the view from our front yard