Friday, August 24, 2007

...and the "bureacracy run amok" award goes to...

... the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for the State of Indiana.

OK, so I'm trying to be a good citizen of my new home state and apply for an Indiana driver's license on a timely basis. (Plus, my California license expires in less than three weeks, so I have extra motivation.) I check out the BMV website and try to fulfill all righteousness. I study the manual online in preparation for my written test. I pay particular attention to the ID requirements:

  • One primary document -- have birth certificate with me.
  • One secondary document -- have valid U.S. passport with me.
  • Proof of Indiana residence -- have the latest issue of The Living Church with me, addressed to my Indiana residence
  • Proof of Social Security number

This last one flummoxes me at first. In the four decades since I was issued a Social Security card, not once have I been asked to produce it, and can't remember when or where I saw it last. But I pat myself on the back for being able to find the original stub, still stapled to the same piece of card stock to which the card itself was stapled, clearly bearing my number and my signature (as it appeared when I was 16; there has been some...uh...evolutionary refinement since).

I am one happy Hoosier, ready to take my test.


The authentic, clearly original stub of my SS card is not included on the list of acceptable proofs of Social Security number, which the BMV clerk who was...uh..."assisting" me (and who is younger than any of my children) promptly causes to appear in the output tray of her printer and hands to me, highlighting the relevant text in yellow.

I completely keep my cool, realizing that I am in clericals and this is a small town. What are my options, I ask? Whereupon she presses "Print" one more time and out comes Mapquest directions to the nearest Social Security office, which is in Elkhart, about an hour's drive away. I can either apply for a duplicate card (which will take many months, no doubt--well past the time when I have an expired driver's license) or ask them (Elkhart SS, that is) for a letter attesting to the accuracy of my Social Security number.

Need I even put into words how ridiculous this all is?

I didn't think so.

I mean...a Social Security card, at least one of the vintage of my own, is a pretty low-tech, easily forgeable document. That probably has something to do with why it says "Not for Identification" right on it. Oh, yes, I asked whether it would help if I brought in a Social Security statement of the sort they send you every year around your birthday--it would have my name and number on it and be plenty official.

No way.

So the Plutotian and I will no doubt journey to Elkhart on Monday next, en route to Chicago to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, and apply for new SS cards. What ID will be need to produce? Just a driver's license! Then, if we're very nice, they'll give us a receipt that will somehow connect our names with our SS numbers, and be an official SS administration document.

Just like the stubs we both already have.

And if I continue to be very nice when I go back in, maybe they'll let me take the test. Stay tuned.

It's Miller time.


Sarah Richardson said...

At least now you've found your voice...:)

Jon said...

It's nice to see that the BMV might be getting better. It used to be common to have to take four or five trips to the BMV to successfully do anything as "complicated" as getting a drivers license.

Jon in Indianapolis

Barbara said...

Ah, so the slings and arrows of outrageous bureaucracy thrive in the BMV of Indiana?! Bummer! Common sense, where are thou?

The process was easy in VA - but I did have my ancient SS card, tho where the card it came stapled to is, I could not guess!!

Good luck in Elkhart - and Happy 35th! We're at 35 years, too, and somehow I thought I'd be taller by now...

Hugs - Barbara :D

Anonymous said...

Bureaucracy finds a way (to not perform a simple task effectively)!

Miz Minka said...

Happy Anniversary!

Hey, bureaucracy can be a good thing: this little headache has helped you find your voice. ;)

sarah said...

Reminds me of when you took me to get my learner's permit. Good times.

Dan Martins said...

Sarah--yes, there are some similarities, but you may remember that I lost my cool on the earlier occasion, whereas this time I kept it.

Rev Dr Mom said...

The requirement to produce a social security card is ludicrous--especially when it clearly says "not to be used for identification purposes" ! I went through the same thing getting my license in this fair state (far from Indiana).