Real ID, anyone?

Raise your hand if you haven’t seen your Social Security card in a while. It’d been decades for me and it never mattered. Until now.

Bday coming — license renewal year. The law’s changed. I could renew the standard way or provide additional proofs of identity to obtain a “Real ID.” The Real ID would allow me to continue to travel without a passport domestically.

None of the alternative proofs of my Social Security number were available to me. My last W-2 dates back a few years (they want a recent one). Our 1099’s are in K’s name and by the way, only reveal the last four digits of his SSN. Correspondence from SSA only reveals last four digits of my SSN, too.

So, off I went to the Social Security Administration in Waltham last week to apply for a new card. A bundle of papers culled from all over the house. My passport.

There was just one wrinkle. Passport was not enough. A birth certificate would be convincing, but when I was eight, she whispered, my mother changed my name. She threw an additional “r” into ‘Deidre,’ making me ever after ‘Deirdre.’ My birth certificate is wrong.

Notice how I buried that? After holding for 25 minutes the day before and then talking to a super nice guy for 25 minutes, I was counseled to characterize the discrepancy as a misspelling. Tired parents. Careless clerk. Avoid the words, ‘name change.’ The truth is, my mother misspelled my name repeatedly throughout my life, so it wasn’t a stretch to assert (which matters only because I’m a terrible liar). Did she make the change officially? This would’ve been the year JFK was killed. Schenectady County. I have no idea, but somehow I doubted it and clearly there wasn’t time to find out. I certainly didn’t have time to petition a court myself in the event she hadn’t bothered.

I brought an electric bill addressed to ‘Deidre’ to show that it was a common mistake.

Meanwhile, I was fairly certain that I’d applied for my SSN at the time of my first real job — age 15, mother’s helper. If so, no problem.

I arrived at 10:00 to a room full of fellow applicants. I counted a dozen. I hadn’t realized until arriving that the office closed at noon on Wednesdays. Would I make it?

A barrel chested man in uniform, 6’3″ at least, assured me that my queue number would be preserved if I had to return the next day. Okay, that let me relax.

So did recognizing how low the stakes were for me. This is only about being able to leave my passport home when I fly to Boulder or LA. I wasn’t wrestling with immigration or disability payments or Medicare.

Many windows were closed — whether because of the government shutdown or as a matter of course, I didn’t know. People kept flowing in, including an elderly Chinese couple. She could barely walk and relied heavily on her husband for stability.

I kept a head count going. Two people were accompanying other people. Good! One was a no-show. Good! I was beginning to think I’d make it.

Meanwhile, the officer was tracking everything, too. When a number was called out to no response, he repeated the number in Spanish and sure enough up popped two Hispanic men. The officer added a greeting and more information. Fluently.

Time ticked by. I sunk into the vacancy of waiting mind, which is a lot like resting. Phone untouched. The elderly Chinese man walked his wife to the restroom, then waited outside. His number was called before she finished, so the officer took up waiting in his place. When she emerged, he offered his arm and spoke a few syllables to her in Chinese. Bending down. Speaking softly.

I was blown away.

My number came up! I had a 20 dollar bill in my pocket (lunch money?) to offer the guy at window eight in case he was working without pay (he wasn’t). He was affable. Efficient. I couldn’t believe my luck. He predicted the new card would come well in advance of the officially stated two weeks.

It arrived in three business days.

And so, I trundled off to the RMV in Watertown this morning. It was the usual hive of activity but unlike other years they had a cadre of women previewing applications, scribbling approvals, expediting the line. I was out of there in a half an hour.

Blown away. Again.

And in case that isn’t enough: I sold a quilt on etsy last night! And at midnight I padded downstairs for the ninth search for the missing checkbook (think: recent robberies and a well-meaning attempt to protect our assets) AND FOUND IT! And in case all that isn’t enough: after the aide who was FINALLY going to start up in Salem yesterday bailed and I was starting to feel like the matter would never be resolved for my poor sister, a new one was hired on this morning! Just like that!

Whew. I need to look at astrology and see what’s happening up there.




24 thoughts on “Real ID, anyone?

  1. ravenandsparrow

    Its so easy to remember and dwell upon the negatives in life. I’m glad that yesterday you were carried on a positive tide.

  2. Laurie

    Thanks for writing about this. My license is up for renewal and I’m given a choice between renewing it online and going in to get a “RealID.” Since my passport is up-to-date I think that I’ll just carry it. Congrats on the Etsy sale!

    1. deemallon

      My passport is up to date too. I just fret about it when I carry it. I get the sense that you’re a very organized traveler tho, so probably less of a worry for you.

  3. Marti

    Good that things went smoothly all the way around Dee:

    My Real ID experience was a Real ordeal as they were not gracious about accepting that a misspelling had occurred on my “certified” birth certificate.

    Last year it was time to renew my driver’s license so I gathered what I thought would be all of the appropriate paperwork. We were going to Santa Fe so I decided that I could just as easily accomplish this there instead of here in Rio Rancho. Waited only 10 min, but was turned away because I did not have an official “certified” copy of my birth certificate, only the original copy from the hospital which was deemed unacceptable.

    Back in Rio Rancho, again went to the MVD, (they don’t call them DMV here) official certified copy of birth certificate in hand when stopped this time because middle name was spelled differently on the certified form than what was printed on my social security card and driver’s license. Irony here is that I never caught the misspelling since honestly, how many times do any of us look at our “certified” official birth certificates… Certainly this mistake was never caught when I had a passport. (Passport expired a number of years ago and since we don’t plan to go overseas, see no need to renew…) Anyway, I was informed that I would have to contact Social Security to make the correction on my card in order to proceed with Real ID.

    My middle name is highly unusual, it is Asuncion and of course, there is a story behind the name. After 5 years of marriage, my mother was finally pregnant with me at age 34, my Dad was 42, old for parents in the 40’s. In the Catholic Church, Aug. 15th is a very important date- the date of the blessed virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven. My mother went to mass on Aug. 15th, heavily pregnant and prayed to the Virgin that the child she was carrying would be a girl. I was born exactly one month later on Sept. 15th so of course my mother gave me the name of Asuncion for my middle name, Asuncion is the Spanish word for assumption. However, my certified official birth certificate misspelled it spelling it as Osuncion instead of Asuncion and I never noticed it. The end of the story here is that after 70 yrs, my new Social Security card and driver’s license have this awful spelling but it got me my Real ID. The first time I flew domestically and showed my new driver’s license last year, the TSA agent commented on my unusual middle name… I just rolled my eyes!

    1. deemallon

      Oh dear don’t you hate that? Both the bureaucracy and the misspelling. I love the birth story though. THAT is truly special.

      Isn’t September 8 or 9 the date of Mary’s nativity? This is something I learned in connection with the Stone Slave rebellion. SC 1739. Sept 9. The rebels were Kongolese Catholics (think Portuguese missionaries in Africa) and chose to rise up on the 9th in honor of Mary. There maybe been some confusion between the 8th and 9th.

  4. Tina

    You do have the most interesting comings and goings. Between that and being such a talented writing .. I just love reading your posts. Big congratulations on selling one of your quilts .. earned and deserved.

    1. deemallon

      Tina. This was the most ordinary coming and going. But what made it so unusual was the quality of people I ran into at every step of the process. It doesn’t always work that way.

        1. Liz A

          Okay, I jumped the gun with that comment … just checked and Texas licenses are ReadID compliant. But sheesh! And no, I never have had a passport and likely never will, but I suspect my name variations over time due to keeping both my middle and maiden name, then dropping one or the other by whim when confronted with forms with room for only one middle initial, would give fits to anyone trying to reconcile them all.

        2. deemallon

          Didn’t mean to alarm you. I don’t know what the other forms of acceptable ID are, either. Plenty of people don’t have passports.

        3. deemallon

          From google: Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every adult boarding any federally regulated aircraft — including domestic flights — will need a Real ID-compliant license or they will need to show an alternative form of identification (such as a passport, “enhanced ID,” Global Entry card or other acceptable forms of ID) at security.

  5. Deborah Lacativa

    Hmm. Here I am considering where I’d go if I had a passport. Our SSA office windows are at sitting height, each window with two chairs. I thought that amazingly considerate.


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