Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 2013
Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
A couple of weeks ago on my Birthday of August 31st, my CDL Expired. CDL is the acronym for Commercial Drivers License, the ticket I suffered to get at the Schneider National Driver Training School around 20 years ago or so now. See the Over the Road series for more on this topic. LOL.
Partially I have been very busy with Podcasts, Vidcasts, Blogging and IRL WORK, but mostly I was Procrastinating over the last 2 weeks about going in to see about getting it Renewed. I don’t really NEED a CDL at the moment, but I DO need a Driver’s License. If I had been pulled over by the Rolling Gestapo anytime during the last 2 weeks driving with an Expired License, this would not have been a Good Thing. LOL. Fortunately however, this Bad Outcome of Procrastination did not occur, I got away with 17 days of driving on an Expired License.
The really annoying part over the last couple of weeks thusly did not come in the use of the License for driving, but rather in its use your Goobermint ID allowing you to BUY BEER! No matter how old you actually are, in most Liquor Stores the sales clerk is REQUIRED to look at your License. In some smaller Convenience stores after the clerks get to know you as a regular Beer Consumer they don’t ask for it, but these places charge on average $2-3 more for a case of beer than the big retailers. The Licenses also at least here in AK carry a notation if you ever were convicted of a DUI, so even if you are above the “Age of Legal Boozing” if your license is so tagged they won’t sell you Liquor while the license is so tagged. You’ll need some OTHER form of ID to prove your Age to the Clerk.
Anyhow, I have never got nailed for a DUI, but the clerk in one store did notice my license was expired, and told me she could not sell me the beer. AAACCCCKKKK! Fortunately ALSO in my wallet I had my FSoA Passport Card which I got along with my regular Passport back in 2008 when I was getting Paranoid they would shut down Alaska and Deport anybody who was not an Official Amerikan. It was a Renewal, I’ve held a Passport continuously since I was 5 years old when we first moved to Brasil, but I don’t travel internationally these days so don’t really need one. OK, when I went to Mejico to get my Dental Work done I needed one to get back in the country (not to LEAVE though! No checks crossing the border going OUT of the FSoA at the Los Algodones Border Crossing!) Mostly though, the Passport just sits in the desk drawer here in the cabin all the time. The Passport CARD is a relatively new thing, and only works I believe on the Mejicano and Canuck Border crossings. It is however a fully accepted Legal ID here in the FSoA, so it got me the right to buy a case of brewskies. 🙂
Why exactly was I procrastinating on this? Mainly because I was Paranoid I would not pass the Eyesight Test, which is the ONLY thing they test you on with a Renewal. I have never had to wear glasses or contacts, I had AMAZING vision through my 20s, I could read newzprint at 20 feet away. Like 8pt text. 20-10 Vision it was at the time. It has deteriorated over the years, but I still don’t need glasses and I don’t want to have to buy some. It would be another admonition I am AGING. Bad enough I got Dentures, I don’t need fucking GLASSES also! LOL
Anyhow, finally a few days ago I headed over to the DMV, sucked up my Courage and filled out the Renewal Form and Pulled my Number to wait to be called by one of Da Goobermint Clerks. I gotta say this shit is WAY better in Palmer, Alaska then it was in Jamaica, Queens in NY Shity back in Da Old Days, where a trip to the DMV was an All Day Affair where you were sent from the Blue Light Line to the Green Light Line to the Photo Line etc, each a good Hour long wait, often more. If all your paperwork was not in order, the Ordeal could be totally WASTED time. At the Palmer DMV office today, I only had to wait about 20 minutes for one trip to a clerk, who checked out my Paperwork and then told me I couldn’t get my CDL without a Medical Form. ACCKKKK! I have been through that nightmare a few times trying to get my Blood Pressure down to where it is deemed Acceptable for a Commercial Driver. FORTUNATELY however, I am not actually WORKING as a Commercial Driver at the moment, so I was able to get this renewed as a Non-Interstate CDL, and can get it changed if I go to the Doc and get a Pass on the Blood Pressure. Not worried about this at the moment.
Now the BIG MOMENT arrives, the VISION TEST! I remember when the Eye Charts were up on the Wall behind the Clerk’s Desk Station, but they switched over to the Binocular Lens thing you look into sometime in my 20s as I recall. READ LINE 5 I am Ordered by the Clerk! There are 3 sets of numbers, one Left, one Middle, one Right. I read off the first 2 sets, I don’t even notice the 3rd set at first. This I am pretty sure is because my Right Eye has deteriorated more than my Left Eye, and I mostly See with my Left Eye. Only when the clerk tells me there is a 3rd set of numbers to read off do I focus down and actually NOTICE the 3rd set, which is a bit harder to read, but still legible to me. I read off this set, and POOF, I PASSED! I STILL SEE GOOD ENOUGH without Glasses to get a Drivers License!
Bedsides forking over $100 to the DMV, this is all it takes and I am directed over to the Photo Booth for a Pic, and no additional Number Tickets just one person is ahead of me and PLUS the Machine makes the Plastic Card with the Picture on the SPOT. My first NYS Drivers License was Card Stock with no Picture on it, I think that was the kind of license I always held in NYS even to my 30s. It was only when I moved to MO that I got my first Plastic License with a Picture on it.
Now comes the really FUN part of this story though. The one person ahead of me getting a Picture taken is not an Adult, it is a 2 Year Old! Seriously. Mom is getting an ID card for her 2 year old child here at the Alaska DMV. I do not *THINK* this is REQUIRED, but Da Goobermint encourages all Parents to get these ID cards for their kids. The Pic goes in the Database together with the Social Security Number, now you are Officially Recorded from the age of 2 years old at the DMV! Anyhow, the kid is not too cooperative standing on a chair to get his Pic taken, and the clerk has no toys to get his attention. After 5 minutes of this, I volunteer to take out my set of Keys and shake them around above the Camera, which finally gets the kid to look at the camera long enough to get a decent Mug Shot. LOL. This finally done, I get my turn in front of the Camera, and actually came out with a halfway decent ID Photo on this one. 2 minutes later, the machine pops out my NEW ALASKA DRIVERS LICENSE, now good for 5 more years until my 61st Birthday on August 31st, 2018! No Eye tests to take between now and then, and good for Beer Purchase too through the period!
The function of a Driver’s License as an Identity Card together with networked Databases rendered moot a debate back in my youth regardine whether a “National ID Card” for everyone was a good idea. The idea of course smacks of the “Show me your PAPERS” images from WWII movies, with Nazi Soldiers checking everybody’s papers to make sure they were legit and not some enemy of the Nazi State. I remember clearly the film “The Great Escape” where Donald Pleasance played a nearly Blind Counterfeitor who produced fake papers for the POWs to use on the Great Escape.
Deal is here today, such a counterfeiting method of producing Counterfeit Driver’s Licenses couldn’t work, even if you had access to the equipment to produce the Plastic Cards with the embedded picture of your face on them. The REAL information is held in a database on a distant computer, and the license merely has a Number on a magnetic strip which accesses that file. So unless you ALSO have Hackers who can get inside this database to create a corresponding Identity to the one shown on the card, the ID is meaningless and easily determined to be counterfeit. The NSA of course can do this at the drop of a Hat, but I think it would be quite hard even for the best Hackers from Anonymous. Although, I put nothing beyond the reach of Anonymous, and I Expect Them.
In the Happy Motoring FSoA, few adults except the poorest in the Inner Cities does not have a Driver’s License, so for all intents and purposes the Driver’s License today serves as the National ID Card. Many if not all states now also encourage EVERYONE, including kids to get ID cards issued by the DMV. It’s not REQUIRED by law anywhere far as I know, but to do many things also regulated by law such as buy a 6-pack of Beer or a Pack of Cigarettes or to Sign a Lease on an apartment etc you MUST have an officially recognized Goobermint ID of some sort.
In the current FSoA where many people are bugged by “Illegal Aliens” in their neighborhoods getting Free Medical Care etc, the idea everybody should have an ID on them that certifies they are a Legal Person who can live here , this Identification is sold as a Good Thing. Why would you be bothered about this if you are Legal? Same idea as why should you be bothered about the NSA reading your emails if they are not saying anything “illegal”? In the name of “security”, you sacrifice your privacy and you sacrifice your independence.
To the teenager like I was back in the 70s when I got my first Driver’s License, it seemed like a Ticket to Freedom. Now I could drive wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted! In reality though, I handed over a huge portion of my freedom the day I took my Test at the DMV and was issued a card by Da Goobermint which said I was Legal to Drive. If you ever have your license taken away for any reason and have become dependent on an automobile to get you to work, the loss of the license can mean the loss of your job which then ends in the loss of your home when you can’t pay the rent or mortgage. Fortunately for me I never lost my license or had it suspended, but I know quite a few sad stories of friends who this happenned to. The most prevalent is suspensions for being caught driving without INSURANCE. The reason the person is driving W/O insurance is they CAN’T AFFORD IT! Take away the license and they lose their job, they are even LESS able to afford it! Then they no longer pay taxes and if fortunate can get some kind of Goobermint Assistance. The whole business cascades and what was once a Good, Legal, Taxpaying Citizen is now a Homeless SNAP Card recipient living in a Tent City.
Back in the day before the Automobile, was anyone REQUIRED to carry a License to ride a Horse? To drive a horse and buggy? To run a Team of Horses pulling a Stage Coach? Plenty of Accidents there with Reckless Drivers/Riders for sure! Plenty of Riders 3 sheets to the wind also I am sure!
Granted there were fewer folks wandering the streets getting run over by drunken gunfighters in those days, but at the same time Kid Shelleen did not have to buy Insurance to ride a Horse either! Profit margin in Gunfighting would have been seriously curtailed if all Gunfighters hadda carry Insurance to ride their horses! LOL.
Buying into the paradigm doesn’t just remove a portion of your Freedom, it also means you need to dedicate a portion of your Income to paying off the various Financial Rackets for Protection. The Insurance Companies for a starter here, the Banks for Interest on the Loans to buy the Cars, Da Goobermint for Vehicle Registration Fees, Licensing Fees and of course all the taxes on the Fuel also. EVERYTHING got financialized with the advent of the Automobile, and once joining the Automotive Tribe of Happy Motorists, the days began where EVERYTHING you did Car Related got recorded by the DMV. More invasive now still, since with the advent of stuff like GPS and “On-Star”, long as you are driving around carrying your Cell Phone, every move you make around the entire country can be Tracked and Monitored, and dropped into that same Database that your Driver’s License holds the Key to for the “Authorities” to check up on you. Not just today, not just yesterday, but in fact tracked through your entire LIFE from the first day Mom brings you to the DMV for your First ID Card.
For myself, at this point in my life living where I do and participating in the Carz economy as I do, letting my License to Drive Expire is not an Option really. Only if I quit this economy entirely, headed out into the bush to live a subsistence life would that be remotely possible in this part of the world, and even less remotely possible down in the lower 48, except inside the Big Shities where you are tied to the system in many other ways. Even if you ran a small Farm and wanted to bring your Produce to a local Farmer’s Market, you pretty much need a Driver’s License to do it. I’m sure a few Amish pull their produce to local markets in Horse Drawn Wagons, but if they are moving any large quantities of it out and selling it to the Industrial Peoples, they contract to a non-Amish Trucker who shows up with his Freghtliner or Kenworth to pull it off the farm.
As of today, I have 5 more years with the Right to Drive, long as I Pay my Insurance and Vehicle Fees and Keep My Nose Clean otherwise. Far as I know so far Collapse Blogging is not an Offense which the DMV can use to Pull your License, though you never know what tomorrow will bring on that score. Will the Gas still be available at the Pump 5 years from today for me to fill the SUV with Go Juice, at a Price I can afford to pay? I remain SKEPTICAL of this outcome at the moment.
After roughly 40 years of time Over the Road as a Licensed Driver of Motorcyclez, Carz and Truckz, I think this is my LAST DRIVERS LICENSE.