Monday, April 25, 2011

"Can I see an ID, please?"

Without a valid Driver’s License, I’ve had my (then brand-new) car parked in my garage for weeks. I’ve had to pass on ordering a beer or a margarita in a hot weekend because I left that yellow piece of paper at home – the one you must present with your “clipped-corner-ID”. I’ve had to go to the DMV so many times, this one grumpy lady started smiling at me - all in sympathy to the innumerous obstacles I faced for wanting to be behind the wheel, behind a glass of a cold one or just because I really didn’t have another way around it.

The US Government (read: USCIS –United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) made it so painfully annoying for me to come and go, I couldn’t leave the country, couldn’t fly within the country and, to top it all of, I couldn’t even drive around my block! While waiting for my ultra-bureaucratic Green Card, I went through one Brazilian Driver’s License and 3 (three!) different MN Licenses in 6 months.

Acquiring all those licenses meant paying fees, standing in line, carrying a passport, a clipped ID, a yellow form to prove the clipped ID was good for reference and a whole lot of patience. I also had to take a knowledge computer test (which you probably took when you were in your sweet sixteen’s) and a behind-the-wheel test with an unloved man (so not to say something too mean about him) riding shotgun. He criticized the way I drove, the way Brazilians drove and said I was the closest fail he had that whole week! Such an unloved man! Please understand that I had been driving for quite a few solid years in Brazil (where traffic is über-chaotic compared to Minnesota) and had a new car locked up in my garage, after driving it for only a couple of months. Very frustrating, yes, but I passed. Then all the other Licenses followed, always with a 2 month “status-change-dependency” expiration date. In 2 months, there was I again, at the DMV, smiling (without sympathy on my side) to the grumpy lady.

I now have the Green Card, a valid Driver’s License and can drive and travel as I please, but I still can’t leave the country because my Brazilian Passport is expired. So there I go, fighting the system again - this time in Chicago, where lines, fees, expiration dates and grumpy people await me. Wish me good luck!

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