New Drivers License, The Swoop and Non-Existent Secret Labs

My Oregon Drivers License has been attained! Why is taking an exam and passing it SO satisfying? And why don’t we get to take exams like this in real life all of the time just to get that feeling of Yes, I got them all right!!! I passed! Because that’s just plain fun.

It was a hard test too. Like how many feet behind an ambulance you’re supposed to drive when its siren is on and which way you’re supposed to look when you approach a two way uncontrolled intersection (do you look left first or right first? or one of two other options?) etc. There were only a couple of questions that some of the answers to were actually so ridiculous they made me laugh out loud — maybe it’s growing up in rural Wisconsin, but the possibility that a sign with a leaping deer on it might be to direct the driver to a fun deer viewing party struck me as hilarious. Or that someone wouldn’t know which snowy/icy conditions (on a list of possible snowy/icy conditions) would be the most treacherous. Otherwise, you had to have actually read the handy DMV booklet to pass the test.

You’d expect after such a hard earned win that there would be a nice prize at the end, like a lollipop. Or cake. But no! Instead you have to sit for a photograph to be taken. A photo that will be with you for a looong time, the one second of your life when the shutter of the DMV camera opens haunting you for at least ten years.

I’m not especially vain about this photo — you have no control over it and who cares really? In fact, last time around I said to hell with it, I’m not succumbing to the standards of beauty in MY license photo, and I wore my oldest, ugliest glasses, put my hair back in a messy uncombed tangle, and wore a sweatshirt.* This time, I didn’t make any dramatic efforts in any direction, and just went to the test as is.

Despite not caring too much about how my photo turned out, it was still a bit of a shock when the picture taker took one look at the finished image and yelled  “Uugghh!!!” before RUNNING from the room with the photo in his hand. I shouted after him, “Is it really that bad????” But he’d disappeared!!!

When he popped back around he was all, “No, no, you look great, really.” Which was unconvincing to say the least. Turns out the horror was not, in fact, from general photographic hideousness. It was from The Swoop!

If you don’t know what The Swoop is, it is a bit of hair fringe that SWOOPS down in front of one eye. When I first ended up with one, I thought perhaps the purpose was to both blind and irritate the wearer. But, as my harassed hairdresser explained, it is not for this purpose at all. It’s for some kind of sultry look which he didn’t realize I would never be able to pull off. And which, it turns out, is ILLEGAL to have on an Oregon license. By covering one eye, The Swoop messes with their digital imaging/matching software or some such thing so they can’t track you down later if say they’ve caught an image of a mad bomber**  by comparing the distance between pupils. Who knew that Oregon had such sophisticated (and anti-sultry haircut) systems??? Apparently, the photo man had run off to show the manager my problematic Swoop photo to get permission to do a re-take. I’m not sure that this was actually cause to shout out “Uugghh!!!” but Portland seems to have its fair share of dramatic types.

I definitely feel like I’m an official resident*** now. We even got our vehicle registered and got our new plates. If I were a super nerdy librarian (okay, I am, but nerdier even) I would totally have personalized this exact plate. The letters on it? DUY. Yes, my friends, as in Dewey, the man with his own System. The three numbers also happen to correspond to one of my favorite Dewey sections which I can’t tell you because I think it’s probably a bad thing to advertise around my actual license plate, but I bet some of you could guess. At least I won’t ever forget it.


*This backfired. Whenever I tried to use my ugly glasses license, people were all, “Where are the glasses? Are you SURE this is you? Why doesn’t this look like you? Are you hiding something? You look sort of like a mad bomber in this photo. Do you have a secret lab in your basement by any chance?

**I swear I’m not a mad bomber — I don’t even have a basement!

***As official a resident as I can be with only a paper copy of my license. Check back later for the Swoopless photo on my license when I get it in the mail.

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