Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Political Party?

Forget the Tea Party and the Green Party and whatever other parties rise up now and then to threaten the Democrats and Republicans. I'm ready to start the "Leave Me the Hell Alone" party.

Mom got a letter from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles informing her that it would soon be time to renew her license, which she already knew. They also made her aware of the new rules in place for obtaining a SecureID. Namely, that you must have in hand:  1) a certified copy of your birth certificate to prove who you are, 2) something official with your social security number on it, such as a tax document, 3) two pieces of paperwork showing your current address (like utility bills, bank statement....) and 4) a document showing how your name got to be the name you now use. Naturally most men won't be inconvenienced by this last since they don't usually ever change their last names, unless they are actors.

Coming up with these items probably also won't be a big bother if you are young and live and were married in the same area in which you were born.

My mother is 91 years old. She was born in Illinois and married in the early 1940's. She and my father criss-crossed the country because of his work. There is no attic with important family papers neatly stored for easy access in case the BMV decides they want them in 2010. Her birth certificate and wedding license are around here somewhere, so she says. We have torn the place apart. There are papers scattered across every room in the house, like the detritus shown on t.v. after a tornado touched down. She and I are both savers of sentimental flotsam and jetsam but the key is that we save without any attempt at organization.

If you want to know what she paid for a new Buick Roadmaster in 1952, we can tell you. If you want to see my Glendale, California library card from 1958, we can show you. We can offer the Bureau of Motor Vehicles antique birthday cards and valentines. My old report cards? Yep. My first speeding ticket (1964). Her award for Outstanding Service from the Dept. of Defense, the plaque naming me Citizen of the Year by the Machinist's Union. I could go on and on. But, can we find any of the important stuff, like birth certificates and wedding licenses? No, we cannot, despite hours of desperate searching.

The BMV will still re-new your current license even without all these things but they will stamp it "non-secure". It will still allow you to drive but it may not be accepted as identification, say, for cashing a check or proving your identity at at airline ticket counter. If you're profiled as a terrorist, you could have trouble proving that you are really a harmless 91-year-old American widow.

I told Mom to just go ahead and get the non-secure license but she's adamant that she wants to be secure. She's blaming me for losing her birth certificate since she distinctly remembers giving it to me for safekeeping, oh, maybe 30 years ago.

I have a problem of a different kind. My second husband (or at least the person I thought of as my husband) and I never officially, got married. We just started living together and never bothered to take the final step. We talked about it now and then but we never got around to actually doing it. Well, it was the 60's, for God's sake. We never gave much thought to the fact that we weren't married in the "eyes of the law". I started using the name Williams but I have no documentation to show the BMV how that happened.

I have two choices. One is to settle for a non-secure i.d. I travel a lot and for that reason and others, I don't believe being non-secure is a viable option. Second is to take the steps to legally change my name to Williams, the name I've gone by since 1969. Changing your name is pretty easy to do although not inexpensive. You can get the form off the website and do it pro se for the cost of a $140 filing fee. But the kicker is that you have to run a legal ad in the newspaper (another cost, of course, but I couldn't get a quote from the newspaper without sending them specifics) notifying the world at large of your intentions, should anyone care to object.

I'm neither ashamed of or proud of not having gotten married. If I'd known the trouble it was going to cause later, I'd have gone ahead and done it. I don't go around telling people about it but I've never particularly tried to keep it a secret either. Still, I resent the government forcing me to out myself about something that is no one's damned business but mine.

The BMV says they are doing this for our benefit. I wish the government would quit doing so much for my benefit. I wish they'd just Leave Me the Hell Alone.