Olathe & Southwest Joco

A real tale of a ‘Real ID’ application

One hour and eight minutes.

I spent more time tracking down all the information I needed from the deep recesses of our filing system, organizing it into two separate manila envelopes and getting ready than I spent in the crowded office. But it was all part of the mission I was on that day, one that (in my mind) required a little makeup, “seeing people” hair, an adventurous attitude, and the majority of my work day blocked-off for the experience.

On my way out of town I stopped at my favorite coffee truck for a Nutella flavored iced cappuccino to fortify myself on my journey to the (dramatic dum dum dum) DMV.

Big deal, Susan. We all go to the DMV at some point or another.

True. We do and I have, quite uneventfully, many times. But this trip was a two-fer. I had to register a new-to-us car, but also apply for a Real ID. I’ve done the former several times, but heard nothing good about the process of the latter: long waits, rejected identification materials and overall frustration. Sounds like fun, huh?

The Real ID is another function of our driver’s license and mine was set to expire three months after the Real ID law fully takes effect. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020 residents of every U.S. state and territory need to present a Real ID to board a commercial airline flight. A passport will also work, but I don’t want to haul my passport every time I travel domestically. There are other places it will be required — like a federal courthouse, military facilities, nuclear power plants … none of the places I go, but we don’t know the future, do we?

Since I had to register the car at the same place that I would go to get a new driver’s license, it made sense to do both terribly boring activities at once. The car registration materials were simple, but I juggled cross-referencing a checklist of acceptable documents for the ID while I dug around for them in the filing system that my husband keeps and I don’t fully understand.

It was a Friday. I had my separate envelopes of documents, a full tank of gas, a half-read book, most of an icy coffee, I was wearing sunglasses and it was daylight. I hit the road.

My head buzzed with the many online reports I had read of long lines for the Real ID and with the warning from my husband that Friday was the busiest day to go. I was expecting the office to be full. But the reality of a slightly crowded office didn’t match the around-the-block masses in my imagination.

Still, I freaked out a little and had a ridiculous internal conversation: Which numbered ticket for a line should I get first? What if the lines overlap? Get the car done, then get in line for the ID?

It took several minutes for Rational Susan to convince Ditzy Susan to get both numbers at the same time; that they were far enough apart the lines wouldn’t overlap. In reality there were 14 people ahead of me for the ID and 37 for the car. Ditsy Susan decided to hang-out in my slightly stressed gut until I cleared the Real ID hot seat. Rational Susan drank her coffee and read her book.

I was in the office for one hour and eight minutes total. There were no questions about my ID documents and the only real concerns were realizing that there were no bathrooms when the coffee began to make known its natural exit, and what to do with the rest of the day? Rational Susan spoke up. Work proved just as exciting as the DMV.

Susan is a Kansas City based writer and podcaster. To listen to the women’s history podcasts that she co-hosts or to read more of her work visit thehistorychicks.com or susanvollenweider.com.