The Four Of You who have been around for a few years know that I’m not terribly fond of my given name, and that I’ve never gone through with officially changing it because I didn’t trust the government not to muck it up, and I thought replacing all of my identification would be too much of a hassle.
(It doesn’t happen as often anymore…when I was in school I was constantly correcting teachers and such, especially those asshats who thought that the simple courtesy of remembering a student’s name was beneath them. These days, it happens just enough to be annoying…when I have to flash my ID when I buy something with my credit card, I twinge when I see the name. The record-keeping software at my doctor’s office doesn’t have a convenient or obvious field to record a preferred name, so I get to correct them when they call to confirm an appointment. That sort of thing.)
Anyhow, you also know that back in May I lost my wallet and had to replace all of the identification anyhow. And in so doing, I discovered that it really wouldn’t take that much doing to replace the ID, that my Social Security number would remain unchanged (I was always under the impression for some reason that they had to issue you a new number), and that once those two were knocked out, everything else (and “everything else” really just means my medical and dental insurance cards, since my debit and credit cards and such are already under my preferred name) would really fall into place.
Then, as I am wont to do, I forgot about it for a while.
Well, I’m on my 100-day contractor break from Microsoft right now, which has given me some time to re-think-about things that I have forgotten in the hustle and bustle of normal life. So I’m sitting at home on Sunday, surfing around, and just on a whim I decide to see what it would entail. And I found that it basically comes down to three forms (two of which I could fill out online via Adobe Reader before printing ’em out, yay for not having to deal with my crappy handwriting!), about $140 spread between three agencies, and a quick drive over to the district court just up the road from me a little in Shoreline. Since I’m between contracts, this would be a REALLY good time to do it, if I’m ever gonna do it at all.
This Tuesday comes, and for various reasons I happen to be up and actually prepared to run errands and such much earlier than I ordinarily would be, so I take a deep breath and decide to do it. Quickie thing, right? Go to the courthouse, drop off the papers, write ’em a check, and in a few weeks I get a letter with a stamp on it that says I’m Christopher John Lemon now.
As it happens, not so much.
I go in, find the appropriate window, and the nice lady behind said window processes some paperwork and accepts my check and what-not. After a while, she says “Okay, you’re all set up, you just need to walk down to Courtroom 1 and wait for the judge to call your name.”
Well, okay then. I had nowhere urgent to be, so no big deal. I walk into a very full courtroom, and since there is nowhere to sit, I stand near the back, and watch two or three cases where people convicted of DUI are trying to plead down their sentences with the usual excuses you would expect: “Oh, I’ve gone through the program, I’m a changed (wo)man, I need to be able to work so I can pay off the rest of the fine.” The first lady was in on her third DUI. The judge did not execute her there and then. I was disappointed.
Finally someone gets called, and it leaves an empty seat in the gallery, so I sit down. He’s yet another DUI case, and part of his excuse for not wanting to serve jail time was that he had “hepatitis and an chronic upper-respiratory infection.”
And here I am, sitting in the airspace he just vacated. Great.
Anyhow, they muddle through these (and let me tell you, the wheels of justice could definitely use a little oiling, at least in Shoreline) and the judge calls for “Jon Lemon.” And I cringe and step forward, but in the back of my head I’m feeling kinda smug in the knowledge that this is the LAST time that will happen.
And the wheels of justice whirr into overdrive: I raise my right hand and solemnly swear that I’m not changing my name to dodge creditors or arrest warrants (Shh! Don’t tell them!), Hizzoner congratulates me and sends me back to the window to pick up my copy of the court order form I submitted, and Jon Christopher Lemon walks out of the King County District Court (East Division, Shoreline Courthouse) as Christopher John Lemon. Felt a little weird, mainly because of the immediacy…’member, I was expecting it to happen in a couple weeks through the mail, but here it is, boom, done, final answer, Regis, thanks for playing, and don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.
On the way home I decide to swing by the Social Security office, figuring that whatever birds I can kill with this stone would be worthwhile. Surprisingly, pretty painless…confirmed my number and address, showed ’em the court order and ID, and I was out the door in about fifteen minutes, most of that wait-time.
Today, feeling a little less ambitious than yesterday, but ambitious nonetheless, I decide to go to the DOL (what you folks in other states know as the DMV…I think it’s different here because they’re privatized the vehicle registration side of the equation) and get the Holy Grail of this whole thing, the new driver’s license. Photo ID, baybee.
I go to the one in Greenwood, just down the road from me, because I figure it’s close by, and how long could it take, right?
The Greenwood office is FULL. Standing room only. There are easily 100 people waiting their turns, and during the entire ten minutes I was there I think I saw three new numbers called. I am quite sure I would still be there now if I decided to stick it out. I quickly concluded that it would actually be faster to drive over to the likely-less-busy Bothell office (Yes, Bothell, home of the most intimidating city slogan I have ever seen: “For a day…or a LIFETIME.“) and do it there. And I’ve got an iPod full of podcasts and a full tank of gas, so what the hell.
So I get over there…pretty quickly, considering that it’s now going on 3:00P and the commuting traffic is gonna start kicking in pretty soon. And I take a number…134. Checking the little readouts above the windows indicates that Number 124 is currently being served in those lines. Golden. I sit down.
Immediately, three of the four windows close. I look up to see a sign reminding me that attacking or intimidating a public servant is a felony offense. I now understand why it’s there.
I plug into the iPod and finish listening to This Week In Tech. It takes, I shit you not, a full hour and change to get from 124 to 134. As I approach the window, it dawns on me why driver’s license pictures always suck: by the time your turn finally comes, your spirit has been completely purged from your being and you are nothing more than a hollow shell.
And, of course, I get the trainee, who has no idea how to process a name change. (You married people, you get a new ID when you get married and change your last name, right? This can’t be THAT uncommon.) So he has to wait for someone to help him, and after she does, he does something out of order and erases it all, so she gets to help him again. Whee.
Didja know that when you change your name, your vision changes along with it, and therefore they make you retake the eye exam? Me neither.
Didja know that despite the entire known universe having gone to digital photography, and despite getting a new license in May when I lost my wallet, you have to (wait some more to) retake the picture AGAIN? Me neither. (Attention, DOL administration: have you heard of this wonderful technical advancement called a FRIGGIN’ HARD DRIVE?)
Anyhow. Started this whole adventure a little before two, and did not leave with a temp license in my wallet until right around 4:30P.
Which means it took longer to get the new license than it did to change my goddamn name in the first place.
There’s just something very wrong with that.