Consider this week’s column a public service announcement.

WARNING: Never lose your driver’s license. But if you do, prepare for a tour of all seven circles of hell, question your rights as an American citizen and get the stink eye from liquor store clerks who don’t believe you are 21.

I lost my license a couple of weeks ago, so I know what I’m talking about, although I have purchased a bottle of wine since then. I was not asked for identification. The clerk did offer to hold my cane while I wrote a check for “three-dollars and fifty-three cents.” I never said it was good wine.

When the license did not reappear, I knew a visit to the bureau of motor vehicles was in order. I figured I would fill out paperwork, write another check and be out of there in 20 minutes, tops.

Then I opened the door and was greeted by the sight of a crowded waiting room, then took a number from one of those bakery shop dispensers, sat down and waited my turn.

After a while, a pleasant looking woman called my number. The urge to shout “Bingo” was almost too much to resist. I did.

“What can I do for you,” she asked. I showed her my ticket and ordered a seeded rye and half dozen chocolate cupcakes. She was not amused.

Then we got into the nitty-gritty of my lost license. She asked for identification. But my lost license was my ID, so now what? Did I have my Social Security card? No. You aren’t supposed to carry it with you.

The pleasant woman checked with another equally pleasant woman who told me to come back with my Social Security card and last year’s income tax return.

I offered my library card and a dry-cleaning receipt but by then both pleasant ladies were becoming unpleasant and done with my attempts at humor.

Next day, the required items in hand, I returned to the BMV to find an all new crew of pleasant women. When my number was called, I presented the necessary items.

Guess what. There was more. Isn’t there always?

To get a duplicate driver’s license I would need proof of my legal name, date of birth, that I live in the U.S. legally and two documents to verify my Ohio street address.

Evidence of these things did not include a library card or dry-cleaning receipt. More to the BMV’s liking are such things like a Social Security card or IRS return, passport, birth certificate and two utility bills addressed to me at my current address.

The newest wrinkle is that now I need a new Social Security card. Why? Because the one I have is the one I received when I turned 15 and got my first job, which bears my maiden name not my married name.

And that is still not all. If I cannot find my birth certificate, and there’s a good chance of that, the replacement must be authenticated and not the kind you can download from the internet and print out at home, which means a face-to-face meeting with another pleasant woman in the county courthouse department of vital statistics.

Until I can get the documentation I need for a real driver’s license, I have been issued a temporary. It cost me $20.75 plus a $1.95 fee for using my debit card and is good until Oct. 1, the deadline for filing the documentation that proves I am who I say I am. Final cost unknown.

Out of curiosity, and just to annoy myself further, I checked to see what it takes to replace a concealed carry weapon permit. The Geauga County Sheriff’s Department website states:

“If your Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) license has been lost or stolen (and was) issued by the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office, you must appear in person and provide either a notarized statement or police report and pay a nonrefundable fee of $15.”

No identifying documents needed, service is first come first served and wait time could be as much as 20 minutes. Cost $15.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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