Identity Theft

The other day I was in motor vehicle to renew my drivers license.  And as anyone knows, going to motor vehicle is not much different than a trip to the dentist: it’s a long wait, a painful experience and when you leave you’re left numb and vow never to return.

As I was waiting on line, I couldn’t help but overhear this young girl behind me talking on her cell phone.  She had just gotten married and was there to change her name on her drivers license.  Straight ahead of me, on the wall was a giant poster that read: ‘PROTECT YOURSELF, STOP IDENTITY THEFT BEFORE IT STARTS’.  I had to laugh out loud.  Maybe I should turn around and warn that girl she’s about to participate in the very first form of identity theft: marriage!

Women have been giving up their identity since the first arranged marriage.  Transferred like property, a maiden was sent from her fathers house to her husbands house, the only real value being her dowry and her virginity.  But what’s a maiden left unmarried but an old maid.  It seems women have worked so long and hard for independence and equal rights, only to throw it all away the second they say ‘I do’.

It got me thinking about my own drivers license; who was that girl in the picture looking back at me with the long auburn hair?  The smile was carefree, thin and young, absent of worry lines.  I had changed my name after I got married, and there it was this new name attached to that old face.  It didn’t fit.  Then there was that M next to the D on my license that once represented my Harley riding motorcycle days, now it just stands for Mom.  This was clearly a picture of mistaken identity.  Why hadn’t I changed that picture when I changed my name?  Or really, why had I changed my name?  Like my drivers license, my name was clean; no violations, no points.  I traded it in for someone else’s identity.  Little by little the maiden that was once me was being chipped away; and for the ‘me’ that was drowning, that picture seemed a lifeline to my past.

But was my present state so bad I needed a lifeline to my past?  If I could change it all today would I really go back?  Isn’t a maiden nothing more than a racehorse that has never won a race?  In other words, not much different from an old maid.  I like who I am, my short blonde hair, the furrow between my brow.  And although my smile isn’t as carefree, it is the smile of a woman with three wonderful kids and a great husband.  These are the things I identify with now.  Is identity just a state of mind, or perhaps an evolutionary process?

As I looked closely at my picture, I knew I had evolved.  I wasn’t that girl and she wasn’t me.  I was who I am at this very moment and that was okay.  As I heard the loud call ‘NEXT’, I looked back at the girl behind me, still talking on her cell phone, I quickly scribbled a note on piece of paper and handed it to her.  When the gum chewing clerk was done shuffling through my paperwork, she looked up at me and asked if I wanted a new picture.  I took a deep breath, and decidedly said, “Yes, I think it’s time for a new one.”  It felt good to be caught up to the present, and that was one identity I could finally relate to.

As I got into my car I heard the young girl call out to me to wait.  She held up my note with and inquisitive look, and said “why?”  I said better to know who you are now, than wait twenty years to figure it out.   She held up her new license to show me.  “New name and new picture to match”, she said.

I smiled and got into my car, and what song should be playing on the radio: Another One Bites The Dust!

Reposted by Jean James courtesy of