Guest post by Jan Bono
Today, I weigh 145—exactly what my driver’s license says I do. My license has, in fact, had the same weight listed on it since the day I got it, at age 16. Don’t ask me how that happened. In between 16 and 61 I spent nearly a decade tipping the scale as high as 396, but here in Washington, you can often get your license renewed by mail or online.
But back in June, 2000, I was 46 years old and weighed 272 pounds. I noted this event with some quiet introspection. Thirty years earlier, in my junior year of high school, my participant number at the state track meet had been #272. I still had the placard.
What goes around, comes around, I mused.
My weight was “on the way back down.” The numbers on the scale were slowly and surely decreasing, but instead of seeing how far I’d come, I was obsessing about how far I had yet to go.
The previous year I had been 124 pounds heavier. What I had accomplished in the past year was truly amazing! I had released an average of just over 10 pounds a month for a full year! And yet I was hit daily by reminders I was far from fitting my weight on the chart proclaiming the insurance norms.
Another gruesome reminder of my yet-to-be-realized goal was the reality check I got when I went to get my driver’s license renewed.
After waiting for over two hours, an unheard of amount of time in our small rural community, I was finally motioned to the desk. I smiled and told the man I could wait another few minutes if he needed to take a break or anything. He returned my smile, but said he was fine.
With my glasses on, I pressed my forehead against the monitor and easily read the lowest line on the eye chart. Then the clerk asked me if I still wanted to maintain my motorcycle endorsement. I assured him I did. He asked if I still wanted to be an organ donor. Again I answered affirmatively.
My home had been assigned a more specific address since I’d last renewed my license, so instead of the simple route and mail box number, I dictated my new house numbers while he took the time to type them into the computer data bank.
He sighed and scanned the rest of my expiring card. I confirmed my name remained unchanged. He read aloud as he entered hair color, eye color, and “corrective lenses.”
He paused. All too well, I knew the next section contained my height and weight. I held my breath, wondering how I would answer his next inquiry. I thought I could get away with maybe 220 or 240, but whatever number I told him now would remain on my license for at least the next 4 years or more, and I balked at the thought of that admission staying with me for so long.
He cleared his throat. “Is there anything else on your license you’d like to change?” he asked, with another audible sigh. The man was a true diplomat. But he was obviously not aware of my innate ability to turn his leading question into a game of simple semantics.
I hesitated. I thought very carefully about the phrasing of his question. Very, very, very carefully. After what must have been a month or better, I looked him square in the eye and confidently replied, “No, sir. There is nothing else on my driver’s license that I would like you to change.”
He held my gaze. I did not blink. Then he looked at the clock. It was 5:35. The office had officially closed at 5 p.m. I was his last customer of the day. He looked again at my license. He typed a few more strokes into the computer. Then he patiently smiled again as he said, “Please step up to the green line and look straight into the camera.”
I did as told. My license printed out in a matter of moments. I handed the nice man my check, and I was out the door and on my way.
I walked down the block and got into my car before I dared to look at the new card in my hand. In the space where my weight was recorded it said what it had always said: 145.
And the smile in my driver’s license picture was absolutely priceless.