For a few years now, I’ve been hearing all the horror stories about people trying to renew their driver’s license. Lines were long. Service was slow and people were literally leaving the town or city where they lived or worked to go to a driver’s license office in another community where their friends reported less hassle.
On Monday, though, I experienced quite the opposite.
During the lunch hour, I drove to the Roxboro office on Burlington Road. Had I thought about, I might have chosen not to go during that time of day for fear that others on their lunch break were doing the same thing.
But as I pulled into the parking lot, I actually started to regret my decision for another reason.
There were only two cars in the parking lot. I immediately began to wonder if the office might be closed for lunch. But I walked to the front door and it opened right up. I walked into the waiting room, where I saw one lady sitting in a chair. I peaked inside the next room where I saw one young man taking his written test and another man sitting at a desk talking to one of the license examiners. I returned to the waiting room, where I saw the sign-in kiosk. I filled in all the touch-screen answers and took my slip.
About that time, the man sitting at the examiner’s desk left and I was ushered back to seat across the desk from Officer Nelson.
I had decided to apply for one of those Real IDs. I honestly don’t know the purpose of those fancy licenses, except, I’m told it makes flying easier.
I had spent the better part of two days looking for a birth certificate (which I finally found) and a social security card (which I didn’t find). I had printed off some of the other qualifying documents you must present to get the Real ID and I sat down, worried that, despite my best effort to follow the directions, I would be told I couldn’t get my Real ID because I didn’t have some form I was required to show.
But Nelson was happy with the papers I brought. It turns out she only wanted three of the four documents I thought I had to bring, so I sat happily, while she tapped away on her computer.
She told me to sit back to have my photo taken and after she was finished, I made a semi-earnest request that she touch up the photo to give me a Clint Eastwood-chiseled-jaw look. As it turns out, that was the only thing I asked Nelson to do that she couldn’t manage.
Still, she showed me my picture and asked if it was OK. I told her it was fine and that I didn’t care what it looked like. She poked a little fun at me, reminding me I had just asked for a Clint Eastwood remake.
A few more taps on the computer and she handed me a paper version of the laminated license I will get in the mail in a couple weeks. I left there $40 lighter, but much happier than I thought I would be. My experience was much more pleasant than the myriad stories I’d heard from others and my perspective was flipped completely on its head.