Monday, May 11, 2009

Only the Awful Photographers Need Apply

One of my birthday gifts this year was a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get my new driver's license. Despite it being a “people watcher’s” paradise, full of citizens large and small, Spanish, deaf or Amish (who have to register their buggies), I dread it. I know I’m in for one of those awful, fun-house, nose-growing, eyebrow-uniting wretched pictures...again. I am not vain, but if I’m going to show a picture of myself, even to strangers, I’d rather it be flattering.

I have a long history of awful license pictures, beginning with my first sweaty picture at age 16. I was so self-conscious about it that, months later, I cut it in half and paid for a replacement. Another Heidi ‘gem’ was when I was photographed saying the “W” in the word “Wait!” But my personal favorite--the one where I looked like a female impersonator, I managed to keep for what seemed like decades, thanks to years of mail-in-renewal ‘privilege’.

Generations of bad driver’s license photos exist in my family and friend's wallets too. There was:

ET- the Extraterrestrial - made famous by my mother who tried to cover up her double chin with a turtleneck sweater all the way up to her ears.

Prison Inmate Shot - that was Dad, back when they made you take your glasses off for the picture. Just when he was trying to focus...*click*.

White Wolf - Grandma’s turn. Then I her 70s, somehow her tightly perm-ed white-blond hair was flat in the middle and pointy on both sides. Those DMV clowns even managed to make her nose looked dark.

“You look like ‘sheeet’. You no show nobody” – A line actually said to a friend of mine when he showed his license to a late-night, Pakistani liquor store clerk.

The employees at the DMV don’t even TRY to make the pictures nice. They don’t say “Cheese” before “huh?” *click*. How about letting us bring in our own photos--or at least photograph us from above with a fan blowing our hair? I don’t think they want us to look good. I think when the doors are locked, after hours, they gather all the photographs for the day, print them, yearbook style, and call it “The DMV Comic Book.”

And they sit and they laugh.

To make the DMV experience here in Wisconsin ‘root-canal’ fun, they require height and weight information on the front of your license. There is no WAY I am ever putting down my real weight. Either I’m going to increase my height to 7’6, or ‘fudge” a couple dozen pounds less then I truly am. I filled in my dream weight and went up to the counter, guiltily looking for a scale they would most certainly use to double-check my accuracy. But instead, I blurted out:

“I just ate a big breakfast and I’m retaining water.”

As it turns out, he never questioned me. Apparently, the ‘weight guessing’ pros are all employed at carnivals.

Thank God


Dawn said...

Hilarious! Especially your poor grandma's White Wolf shot. Haha. I think the DMV photographers are trained at the same facility that trains our employee ID photographers. That facility is HELL.

Judy said...

Love it...especially the Pakistani liquor store clerk. I have been tempted to stick my tongue out when they take the picture, but they would probably have me arrested. I have let my hair grow out to gray since my last photo, and now I'm worried that I will look like Nick Nolte when I have to go back. I didn't post yesterday on my blog, by the way. I'm trying to get over my blogging addiction. As you can see, it didn't last long.

Heidi said...

My oldest son's picture has him with long hair and a goatee. He is now bald (by choice) with a mustache. He looks NOTHING like his picture so what good is it? ;-)

Stacey said...

I actually read this one twice it was so funny! Great job. Love the Pakistan comment. These photographers have way too much power.