Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Our Government Always Seems to Deliver; Whether It Means To Or Not by Margo Hoornstra

The other day I had a major dilemma. A blog was coming due here and, try as I might, I could not think of anything to say. Did I want to talk about my work in progress that I have come to dub the never ending manuscript? Not really. Why belabor the point? All I want to do with that is put my head down and get it done. An anecdote in honor of Mother’s Day? With four kids, I have many, not the least of which is ‘how did I get this far in life being as ignorant about life as I seem to be now that I’m a mother?’ All mothers can identify, that’s for sure. No, I thought I’d save that for the Rose who had the actual holiday to post.

As I continued to struggle over a suitable topic, the mail arrived. In the middle of the stack was something from the government. And, lo and behold, what that little envelope contained would be my salvation. Who among us doesn’t have something to say about the government at one time or another? Just look at our current presidential primary race on both sides of the political spectrum. Talk about ‘you can’t make this stuff up’.

But back to my point. My new driver’s license was here. What they call an enhanced version which is, and I quote… “A Federally approved document that allows you to re-enter the US when traveling by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean…” This is all part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Michigan, where I live, is bordered on two sides by Canada. A trip to the Caribbean is, hopefully, in my future. Having the enhanced license is a pleasant convenience. Nice that the government would do something to make travel easier for its citizens. Especially without what seems to be the bureaucratic battle cry of “You’re too stupid to take care of yourself, so let me do it for you.” Refreshing for a change.

I opened the official looking document, pulled out the small plastic card and frowned at the picture. (Do I really look like that? I thought my hair was behaving better that day.) Oh well. Per the attached instructions, I checked to make sure all of the printed information was accurate. My name was spelled right, my address was correct. No retakes for me unless I wanted to pay, again, for it. Included in the packet was a small sleeve. Printing on its face informed me – “This radio frequency protection sleeve shields your enhanced driver’s license or State ID card from unauthorized Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) readers.” Double nice. All of this valuable information and convenience came from my government, right?

I’m all for other conveniences of modern society that do things for me as well. Lights that sense your presence and flip on. Electronic devices that, once they know where you are and want to go, talk you through the maze of highways and traffic to get you there. (This one is huge in my directionally challenged world.) Then there are toilets that know when you’re finished and flush for you.  I’m okay with all of that, and it seemed at long last, the government had gotten on board with some of these hands off modern conveniences.

Then I turned my RFID protection sleeve over and was presented with this nifty little bit of additional printed instruction. “When you need to access your enhanced driver’s license or state ID card, remove it from this protective sleeve.” Well, duh! You think? I may not have thought to do that on my own. Take it out of the protective sleeve, huh? What a concept. Further information instructed me to, “Keep the card in its sleeve when not in use.” Another flash of insight I might not have thought about if left to my own devices.

Geez Louise! Didn’t we talk here a few days ago about authors being asked/told by editors and publishers to dumb down our writing for an up and coming audience who wants/expects to be spoon fed and directed and coddled? Guess the dumb it down concept isn’t limited to authors and books and entertainment and such.

It’s already a wide spread epidemic.

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit me at my WEBSITE


Leah St. James said...

I'm half laughing and half shaking my head, Margo! I, of course, travel-challenged as I am, have never even heard of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Possibly because I don't live near a country border...just the Atlantic. :-) I have to travel pretty far to reach another country any which way I turn! I'm glad, though, that you're all set with your new official (and officially sleeved, RFID-protected) driver's license!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Loved your take on your new driver's license. So I'm guessing with it being kept in it's protective sleeve it no longer fits in the slot of the wallet...the one you had to cram it in before said protective shield was invented?

My youngest son is a Safety Professional for Volvo, handling all safety issues, accidents reviews, OSHA regulations, and writes safety procedures. He says he writes it out so he understands it and then spends hours simplifying it or as he puts it, 'making it idiot proof.' I think it all started with the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit where a customer was too dumb to know not to put a paper cup of hot coffee between her thighs as she drove.

Or as the old joke goes, a man had returned to his doctor for a re-evaluation for chronic constipation. The doctor asks, "So how did that prescription for suppositories work for you?" The patient shakes his head. "Oh they were no help at all. For all the good they did me, I might as well have shoved them up me bum."

Diane Burton said...

Vonnie, thanks for the laugh. The coffee at McDonald's was my first thought, too, Leah. Maybe if we didn't dumb down so many things, natural selection would take over and these idiots wouldn't reproduce. Margo, glad the government helped you out this week. Good post.

Jannine Gallant said...

I've never heard of an enhanced license and my daughter had her DL test a year ago. You'd think it would have been mentioned. Maybe you can't get them in CA, which does border Mexico... I'm reminded of the frozen pizza instructions to remove plastic before placing in hot oven. You think?

Brenda Whiteside said...

This license is new to me, too. But those dumb instructions are not. They are everywhere. But it's a good thing...I'd be sure to taste the cleaning liquid, wash my hairdryer, and make coffee in the new pot before removing the cardboard.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Leah - It really is amusing, and also a little scary. Ah, yes, it is nice to be 'official' - finally, I guess.

Vonnie - True, the license doesn't exactly fit where it used too, but, I'm sure the government meant well. ;-) Here's to your son for learning to adapt! And thanks for my daily chuckle.

Diane - Exactly. Some of the instructions we receive are truly amazing. I'm all for natural selection, too.

Jannine - As progressive as CA is? The enchanced option wasn't mentioned to me either. My daughter discovered it was available and passed the word along. And, no, she's NOT a bureaucrat!

Brenda - Thank heavens we have those 'much smarter' people to protect us from ourselves, right? Who knows what we'd get ourselves in to.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Margo, my hub and I went to a lot of trouble and money to be Pre-checked through security...we travel a lot and thought it would be worth it. We keep our shoes on, don't have to fiddle with computers, bottles of liquids, etc. All goes through the machine without 'removal.' Trouble is, I have fake knees and the machine you step through goes wacko when it detects metal. So I have to go through the big machine where you hold up your hands like you're under arrest. Yes, we go through security more quickly, but I always have to wait in line for the big machine to detect my metal and then they pat me down to make sure I'm not holding guns strapped to my knees, I guess. We live in a strange world.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

LOL Margo. I think many in the publishing world used to work for the government who, for a long time, has considered Joe or Joanne citizen to already be dumbed-down, or simply dumb. Here in AZ, we haven't begun to process the new licenses the feds have pronounced we need. I believe the process will begin here sometime in the fall, and if the past is any indicator, the security screw ups with the new licenses will have been discovered by then and the feds will spend billions fixing the broken system they created to replace the last broken system they created. Hmmm can you tell I'm a cynic when it comes to government? ;-)

Margo Hoornstra said...

Oh, Rolynn, it sure isn't a perfect system. Love the word picture of guns strapped to your knees. My mother-in-law was 93 and in a wheel chair was ordered to 'step through' a machine, which she did, then was patted down when she got to the other side BEFORE she was allowed to get back in her wheel chair. Strange world and ever stranger people.

Mac - A woman after my own heart. My point exactly, but you said it better. ;-)

Alicia Dean said...

Haha, thanks for the laugh. The comments made me laugh too. Yeah, I get a kick out of the instructions that assume we are all idiots. Like the 'Do not Eat' on the little moisture retention packets that come with shipments. What, they think we're going to think they threw in a few snacks? Anyone young enough to eat them, can't read the 'do not eat.' Sheesh! Brenda and Vonnie, thanks for the extra chuckles!

By the way, Margo. How the heck to you get your license mailed to you? We have to go into a tag agency to renew ours.