I went to get a new driver’s license

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

You must renew your driver’s license in person, stated the letter.

I would much rather do it online than wait in a long line at the Department of Public Safety building in Angleton. But not this time. I need a new photo.

There is nothing wrong with the license I renewed six years ago. It has a perfectly good picture of me from 12 years ago. Why renew a good license and replace a younger me with an older me?

I had a few more weeks to do it, but it’s not my style to wait until the last minute. So after postponing it a few times for valid reasons - like I didn’t feel like doing it - I finally became determined to head on over to the DPS office.

The parking lot was packed on a Monday morning. But I made a decision to forge ahead. Whatever it took, I was now determined to renew my license.

I opened the door; there was no turning back. I was looking at dozens of people sitting in rows of chairs and facing the front door. And they were looking at me. Not all of them, only those who were not on their phones.

I cracked a nervous smile.

“You need to take a number and one of those forms and fill it out,” said a friendly elderly woman in one of the front row seats. I thanked her. “I haven’t been here for 12 years,” I commented. Then I saw that there were instruction signs all over the walls.

I sat down and started filling out the form. My number was 23.

“Number 38.” chimed the voice from behind the rows of occupied seats. This is going to be a long morning, I thought. But my phone had a full charge, and I could always just get on Facebook or Twitter to pass the time.

A few minutes later, another voice called No, 37. There were four clerks working.

I didn’t get much of a chance to play with my phone, though. The woman on my left, from Fresno, started a conversation. The woman on my right, from Alvin, asked where I got my form. The slot where I took it from was empty.

So, I asked the closest clerk where the forms were, and she grabbed a handful of them. I offered to put them in the slot.

Those of us waiting then immersed ourselves in conversations, only stopping to direct the newcomers to the proper forms and the number-dispensing machine.

“I brought everything with me - birth certificate and even my passport,” said the Alvin lady.
Uh-oh, I just brought my driver’s license and an insurance card, so I wondered if I might be waiting all this time for nothing.

“I didn’t know we had to bring all those things,” I told her.

“It said in that letter that you may need them,” replied the Alvin lady.

“Typical man,” jumped in the Fresno lady. “You probably don’t ask for directions, either,” she joked. ( I don’t.)

“I didn’t read it either. My husband told me what was in it,” said the Alvin lady.


The countdown continued. The numbers got down to the 20s, and I put my shoes back on to get ready for my turn. Just joking about the shoes. I had them on all the time.

“Number 23.” Showtime.

The clerk was very nice. She just needed my old license. That was a big relief. I passed the eye test with flying colors and got the fingerprinting over with. Then I smiled for a new photo and asked the clerk to airbrush out the wrinkles. We were done.

“It was painless, nothing to it,” I told the Fresno lady before I left. “Let’s do this again in 12 years."