a pretty good day

My day? How was my day? I’m glad you asked. My day didn’t go quite as planned.

My plan was simple. Most of my plans are simple. I’m not even sure you can call a vaguely elastic notion of ‘a nice lunch somewhere’ and ‘a walk someplace interesting’ a plan. But that was the extent of it. A nice lunch. A walk. What could possibly go wrong?

But first I had a minor problem to deal with. My debit card was about to expire. I’d called the bank before the Thanksgiving holiday to find out if a new card had been sent (I recently moved and was concerned the card might have been sent to the old address). I was assured the card had just been mailed to the correct address and I’d have it soon. But it still hadn’t arrived yesterday, so I called the bank again and spoke to a very polite young man named Michael.

Michael told me I needn’t be concerned, the card had probably been lost in the mail. But to be safe he could put a block on the debit card and send me a replacement debit card. He asked if it would be okay if he did that. I said “Why don’t you send a replacement, and I’ll keep using this one and keep an eye out for suspicious charges.” Michael didn’t think that was a wise course of action. It took a few more minutes of conversation before I finally realized Michael was just being polite; he was absolutely going to enforce a policy of blocking the existing card and issuing a replacement to protect me (and the bank) from fraud. And he was going to block the card NOW.

I checked my pockets; I had a total of US$19 in cash. Enough for lunch and a walk, but certainly not enough for the next few days. I asked Michael “What am I going to do for cash?” Simple — go to a branch of the bank, he said, and they’ll issue a temporary replacement card I could use until my permanent replacement card arrived.

So I went to the bank. A very polite young man named Terry said he was terribly sorry the post office had lost my renewed debit card, and he deeply regretted any inconvenience it caused me, but he’d be delighted to give me a temporary replacement card. He just needed to see a state-issued photo ID card. I gave him mine. It had expired. “Sorry,” polite Terry said. “You need to have a current state-issued photo ID card.” I showed him my Social Security card. No. I showed him my Veterans Administration card, issued by the federal government, complete with a brightly-colored photo of my smiling face. No. I showed him my voter registration card. No. I showed him various other forms of photo identification — everything from an ancient faculty ID card from Fordham University, to my library card, to my Utata business card, all with photos of me at various ages. No. I pointed out that it was highly unlikely I’d concoct an elaborate false identity spanning more than a decade just to obtain access to a temporary replacement debit card for an account with just a few hundred dollars in it, especially since I’d had an activated and working permanent debit card just an hour earlier.

Terry was very polite…but no. I needed to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and get a new state-issued photo ID. On my return, he’d be over the moon to give me a temporary replacement debit card.

So I went to the DMV. Yesterday was the 29th day of November. Going to the DMV at the end of the month, when everybody who dawdled and/or forgot to renew their various licenses, is like a combination of attending a Palestinian funeral in Gaza (a mad, chaotic crush of people, all rending their clothes and wailing, wishing they too were dead) and an old-style Soviet bread line (an infinite number of somber, sad-faced, spiritless drones dressed in rags, waiting in line with bovine fatalism, without any real hope of getting anything remotely like what they’re standing in line to receive). To make matters worse, I arrived right at lunch time, when all the employed people who were delusional enough to think they could get their end-of-the-month DMV chores done during their lunch hour arrived. And when most of the DMV personnel went out to McDonalds for a Big Mac.

I got in line. I waited. I made it to the clerk — a polite middle-aged man named Raul. “I need to renew my state-issued photo ID,” I said. Raul would be absolutely delighted to renew my state-issued photo ID. Did I have a certified copy of my birth certificate? I told him the bank didn’t require a certified copy of my birth certificate to get a temporary replacement debit card…so no. “How about your passport?” No, I hadn’t brought my passport either (which wouldn’t have done any good anyway because it’s also expired). Raul said if I returned with a valid passport or a certified copy of my birth certificate, he would happily give me a new state-issued photo ID so I could get my temporary replacement debit card until my permanent replacement debit card arrived since my existing debit card had been blocked because the post office had apparently lost the renewal debit card.

Here’s something you may not know. In order to get a certified copy of your birth certificate, you need to go to the county courthouse and present a state-issued photo ID card or a valid passport. In order to get a valid passport, you have to present either a state-issued photo ID card or a certified copy of your birth certificate.

Happily, I actually had a certified copy of my birth certificate. So I returned to the house, found the birth certificate, returned to the DMV and Raul gave me a new state-issued photo ID, returned to the bank and Terry gave me a temporary replacement debit card. It took six hours. Then I had a very pleasant but very late lunch, and took a very short walk as the sun was beginning to give up.

During the walk I saw the best Men’s Toilet Ever:

menAnd I saw this quickly-walking woman who had no interest in having a cold beer:

cold beerBack at the house, the mail had been delivered. You can imagine how I felt as I approached the mailbox. But of course, the debit card hadn’t arrived while I was out getting the temporary replacement debit card. This is real life, not fiction, and real life rarely gives you a neat and tidy resolution.

In real life, mostly what you get is another day pretty much like the day before. Every so often real life drops in a day that’s twisted as a pretzel. But I kind of like pretzels, and even though my day didn’t go as planned, I thoroughly enjoyed most of it. It was still a pretty good day.

5 thoughts on “a pretty good day

  1. Greg,
    I am glad you can remain thankful through such a day. (It sounds a lot like my last trip home from an unnamed European City: buses, planes, taxis, etc) But you are ever the gentleman and, oh, so polite. The Catch22-ness of modern identification details is quite frustrating, but I remind myself that thirty-some years ago when I went off to University it was no better. (Yes, I can get a telephone number, but they need a number at which to call me so that they can set up the number. ) But you managed to capture one or two nice photographs and to maintain your composure…l call that a very good day.


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