As I mentioned in a prior post, I was having problems getting a State of
Washington Identification card, due to the fact that I "didn't have
enough I.D. to get an I.D." to more or less quote the person at the
Department of Motor Vehicles. This person also got very huffy with me,
as if it was somehow my fault that I didn't have enough I.D. and not the
fact that the requirements here in Washington are pretty close to being
insane. Even with my birth certificate, social security card, Medicare
card, and copies of mail sent to my address by both the Federal
government and the State itself, even that was not enough. As for my old
I.D. which had expired, they said it had been expired too long and that
I was "no longer in the system."
All of which — especially the attitude of the person at the DMV — made
me rather testy to say the least. Not to mention nervous, as in this day
and age it is not good to go walking around town without an I.D. And
then of course there are just certain things that I couldn't do without
one such as go into a bar (if they happened to be checking), open a bank
account or use it to confirm my identity at my existing bank, or take an
air flight or even to get on a Greyhound bus.
So I came up with a plan. One form of I.D. that you could use to get a
State I.D. was a U.S. Passport. So I looked at the requirements to get a
Passport, and while I didn't have the actual photo I.D. they were
optimally wanting there was another way to get one using my birth
certificate, Social Security card or Medicare card, and filing for the
Passport with an identifying witness who had known me at least two
A Passport isn't cheap. It cost $110 for the Passport, $30 for the
filing fee, and $10 for the photos — a total of $150. Well it took me a
few months, but I finally came up with the money. Then I arranged an
interview time at the only Post Office here in Spokane that still does
the identifying witness thing, and got my mom's friend Sister Sharon,
a Catholic nun, to be my witness and also to drive us all the way out to
the Post Office in Airway Heights.
It must have taken a good 3/4 hour to get through all the paperwork.
I had my photo taken — miracle of miracles it didn't turn out too badly.
I left the Post Office tired but greatly relieved. All I had to do was
sit back and wait the 4 to 6 weeks until the Passport came in.
But of course it could not possibly be that easy. Two weeks after filing
for the Passport I get a letter from the Department of State. They
wanted me to provide some sort of current photo I.D.
My heart sank. I was back to square one: No proper I.D. card.
I wasn't going to lay down and die. I quickly fired off a letter to
State telling them about my problems getting an I.D. here in Washington
State, and also quoting their own web site as to the alternate
identifying witness route. I also photocopied off anything that I had
close to an I.D. card, all the typical government Social Security type
stuff, an old school I.D., and even my Medtronic medical device implant
card (which at least had my current address on it). And I have to admit,
I wasn't above begging at that point. I told them that without an I.D.
card or the Passport, that it would be as if steel bars would fall
around me and that I would never be able to travel outside of Spokane
again. Letter completed, I took it to the mailbox and dropped it in.
I was not optimistic. I figured that their demand for the current I.D.
card indicated that they had already made up their minds. And so the
dreadful wait began. I would look in the mailbox every day, dreading the
letter saying that my Passport had been denied. Every day too I prayed
that I would not find anything from State in the box — I figured that
the longer it took to hear from them the more likely that I would
receive good news instead of the expected bad news. Hope against hope
I would look in the box, and give a sigh of relief if nothing was to be
This went on for weeks of course, and was pure torture. It dominated my
thoughts. I tried to resign myself to a kind of stoicism, but couldn't.
If I was to ever have any hope of getting my State I.D., of ever being
able to take a bus to Seattle to visit my friend Charlie who has Alzheimer's,
of ever going to hear Valentina Lisitsa perform in another city, or of ever
taking my dream trip to Paris, it all rested on getting that Passport.
And then, on September 18, I woke up in the morning and, groggy,
grabbed my phone and checked my email. One was from the Department of
State. It said simply: "We have finished processing your passport and it
has been mailed to you."
Two days later, I got the Passport in the mailbox.
I won't even try to express, in fact even though I'm pretty good working
with words I don't even think I could express, how I am feeling having
gone through all of this. But one thing I do know: In November I am going
to go into my local DMV office, fill out the appropriate form, and slam
that damn Passport down on the counter and say "I want my State I.D. card."
And I am not going to be nice about it.