For the next four years, I will have a lasting reminder of what I look like when I need a haircut.
They really should install a mirror in the driver’s license renewal office.
It is, at least, a much better photo than my previous driver’s license photo, which taught me that I really shouldn’t wear stripes.
Why do government institutions insist on humiliating the general populace by taking bad photos of us?
I still cringe at my school photo from sixth grade. I didn’t know it was photo day. I was wearing a thoroughly unattractive T-shirt. I had a mouthful of metal braces, glasses that were too small for my face, and my hair was sticking STRAIGHT OUT on both sides.
My first passport photo exemplified everything that was wrong with the 1980s. I was wearing big dangly earrings and glasses that were too big for my face.
But those bad photos are no match for my first Alabama driver’s license photo.
We moved here from out of state, which meant I had to get a brand new license. I didn’t get to go to the nice renewal office where there is no line.
I had to go to the state troopers’ office.
I was there for four hours.
I had my kids with me.
They were 5 and 2.
This was before the days of iPhones, when we could have just sat and played four hours’ worth of Angry Birds.
At one point, I was filling out paperwork at a counter, and glanced back over my shoulder at the roomful of desks behind me. My son was crawling around on the floor, weaving his way through the forest of chair legs like they were a giant labyrinth.
I came roaring after him like a minotaur.
I had to take the vision test, which is always slightly humiliating because my vision in one eye is something like 20/200.
“Can you read the fourth line?”
“Can you read the third line?”
“Can you read the top line?”
(Squinting.) “P? R maybe?”
There was whining, there was fussing, there was nothing to eat, there were many unkind words spoken about the state Legislature of Alabama.
The kids were not happy, either.
And do you know what they did to me in the end? After four hours of being trapped in a government office with two hungry, tired, bored, cranky children?
They stood me up against a wall and took my picture.
My clothes were disheveled.
My cheeks were flushed.
My hair was a mess.
I was not smiling.
I was glaring daggers at the camera.
And for the next four years, I had to carry that face around with me, everywhere I went.