[Author’s Note: This is yet another deviation from the intended theme of this blog. However, if you do not read anything else on this site, I think you might find this amusing. At the very least, you can point and laugh at my misfortune and bad luck the next time we cross paths… and maybe it will be less awkward when I ask you for a ride somewhere.]

If you had told me that Tuesday morning that the phrases “fraud investigation” and “facial recognition software” would totally derail my plans for the day, I would have told you that you were insane.

I realize that there is no such thing as a “simple” trip to the DMV but Tuesday’s visit surpassed ridiculous. All I intended to do was to get a new driver’s license. This should not have required anything more than proof of insurance, a nominal fee, and a shower as soon as I got home to wash off any number of communicable diseases I might have been exposed to there.

Apparently, the bureaucracy that is the Good Ol’ U.S. of A had other plans…

I stood in line, took a number, waited to be called, took the eye test, signed official looking documents, and paid my fee. After all of this, the clerk said “uh oh”. Apparently the State of North Carolina had flagged me as such an evil-doer that I was not allowed to receive a driver’s license in South Carolina. The nature of my crimes was unknown but I was politely given my money back along with a phone number to someone in North Carolina who could surely explain everything.

I immediately called the number only to be placed on hold for an excessive amount of time before I was told that my North Carolina license has been suspended in 2009 as part of a “fraud investigation.” Given the fact that I had not possessed a North Carolina driver’s license since 1999 and have done little more than pass thru the state a handful of times since, I had a few questions. Unfortunately, this was all the information she was able to share so I had to call another number… and another… and another… and then one more…

Eventually, I spoke to an especially helpful soul that explained the problem. In 2009, North Carolina implemented “facial recognition software” to review their motor vehicle records. I would naturally suspect that this would be used to identify suspected terrorists or wanted criminals but it also picks up an additional segment of the populations: college students in the late 1990’s whose driver’s license photo “matched” another photograph on an unrelated identification card.

So, let me take this moment to explain the potential explanation for this… OPTION A: A simple clerical error or software malfunction occurred that affected some poor, innocent citizen at an undeserving time in his life and apologies for the inconvenience will soon fall from the heavens, or OPTION B: In 1998 I outsmarted their technology so I could obtain an almost-unbeatable form of false identification in order to commit the nefarious act of drinking alcohol before the age of 21. Eleven years later, their technology caught up to my wits and punished me by suspending a license that did not exist.

I am of the opinion that the truth of the matter does not actually matter.

I have been punished for a crime that I was never convicted or even notified of. I was not found guilty of identity theft, yet my license was suspended in a state I did not possess a license in. All of this happened 11 years after the alleged offense which exceeds the statute of limitations for almost every crime short of rape and murder. 

Forgive me for being a tad bewildered but do we not at least maintain some regard for The Constitution?
This is what is wrong with our country. We are at war.  We are in debt. We (as a country) produce next to nothing. As a result of our lack of production, we call ourselves a “service economy” but when we require service we are redirected to another number. However, some economic stimulus package or income generating brain fart thought it what was wise to go back 11 years and silently harass people for what they might have done during college. Welcome to America.

Maybe I committed an ignorant crime of youth when I was twenty years old. Maybe I did not. Either way, is this the sort of thing that should prevent me from renewing a license 13 years later? Does this even matter or is this a way for the North Carolina DMV to collect an extra $50 so they can finance programs which essentially urinate money away at every opportunity in the name getting a few more votes.

My State of the Union Address could go on for days and that is not what this blog is about.   You should be reading about a totally awesome book store, wine bar, or hiking trail right now. I apologize for the digression and suggest you go back a few pages and maybe decide to dine at one of my favorite restaurants after a nice hike and a visit to a winery nearby. 

Now that I think about it, I would like to revisit those places, too. Would you mind giving me a ride? I promise not to steal your identity on the way there.