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Bruce Bialosky

Want to Get on an Airplane, Go to The DMV

Relaxing at my home, listening to some tunes and catching up on some reading, I was alarmed by a new development by the government that could cause me consternation (what’s new there?). Unless I received a special new kind of driver’s license, I would have to take my passport on domestic airplane flights. I had to solve this problem.

The law is called Real ID. The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production, and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding federally-regulated commercial aircraft.

My first thought was why couldn’t California just design their licenses in compliance with the law? That would be too easy. But then I realized they couldn’t give all those licenses to illegal immigrants and comply. About 30 states are already in compliance, but the entire West Coast falls into the other category. The law is in effect, but the actual deadline is October 1, 2020. Thinking about how defiant the state has recently been toward the federal government, I figured our elected leaders did not care.

I decided not to wait and called the DMV for an appointment. The automated system gave me a time six weeks from the date of the call. It worked for me so I accepted it and waited for my big day. I had not been to a DMV for probably 12 years since taking my kids for their driver’s tests for their own licenses. I waited with great anticipation for this wonderful slice of life.

I left with plenty of time for traffic in LA is always an iffy proposition. As luck would have it the traffic gods were looking down on me and I arrived 15 minutes early for my 10:20 AM appointment. I walked up to the building and I came to a long line out the door and figured this had to be the unfortunate ones who are not aware you don’t show up at a California DMV office without an appointment. The only problem was I could not find another door open for us superior ones having appointments so I jumped in line with the unfortunate ones. After five minutes of not moving and standing in 85-degree weather, I spotted a rent-a-cop. He told me the superior ones did not have to stand in line with the unfortunate ones and led me inside … to another line.

Staring over at the unfortunate ones’ line left me with the idea that those people better not have plans the rest of the day. As my line grudgingly edged forward (passing my appointment time), I still felt grateful being a superior one. As the person in front of me offered help to a rent-a-cop, I told him he could get a job at the DMV, but he would have to lose the smile. He replied “Yes, I haven’t seen one employee smile yet. Bizarre.”

I looked to my side and saw a couple of boxes with DMV handbooks. The one on the right had dividers labeled Hindi, Chinese, Arabic and Korean. The one on the left was not labeled so I was left to wonder whether that was the box for the ones in English or the ones in Spanish.

I finally reached the front of the line and had my chance to engage my first bustling and bright, non-smiling employee. She asked if I had an appointment to which I stated “Yes, at 10:20, but you blew by that” as it was now closing in on 10:40.

She asked me a few questions and I showed her my documents. Unlike illegal immigrants, one actually has to produce multiple identifications to get a Real ID. I handed her my passport, social security card and a statement from my bank showing residence. There are other suitable forms which are on the DMV website, but you need three in addition to your driver’s license. She sent me over to a touch screen to fill out all the info they needed from me.

I started to sail through answering these perfunctory questions when I came upon a new DMV element. It asked me about my voting registration. I read it over a couple times and it seemed clear to me if I did not complete this information my existing voting registration would be eliminated. Since I was already whizzing through the touch screen questions, I just started to sail on until I hit a screen that really stalled me.

It asked for me to pick my political party. I screened down to Republican and stopped. I thought would selecting this set off an alarm causing security to come over? Was I going to get a Red Alert on the screen? I looked down to make sure there were no trapdoors beneath me. Then I took my very existence into my hands and selected Republican and then went on to the next page.

It brought me to wonder why they even ask about political party anymore. We have these jungle primaries where we end up voting between two Dems in the general election so why do they need to know? A friend suggested it was so they could offer me a re-education class once I registered as a Republican.

Once I completed filling in all the screens, I had to go back to my first line and get assigned a number. I waited for my special number to be called and went to the assigned window. When I wisecracked about how much fun I was having the lady helping me actually smiled. I dug in with more witticism and got her to laugh. I was on a roll. I found a live human at the DMV. After taking a picture and paying $35, I was informed I will be sent my Real ID.

An hour and a half of pure fun at the DMV because our elected leaders are too interested in something (saving the planet, stifling Trump or protecting criminals from being deported) than doing their jobs and making our driver’s licenses within the national law to have proper identification which we obviously should never use to vote. Special; too special.