July 14, 2015

What’s on YOUR Drivers’ License?

Guest post by Jan Bono

Yes, Crabby is still blogslacking. Instead of posting here she's off playing with her imaginary friends. (I.e., futzing around with her novel-in-progress). Anyway, it's a good thing we have Jan Bono to help us out! Remember you can find her book Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey” in print if you like things old school, or as an ebook on Jan's smashwords pageEnjoy! --Crabby

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.


  1. Ha! Back when WA actually let us smile. :) Maybe that is a nationwide change though. This is a funny story, thanks, Sam

    1. My photo is THIS YEAR'S image. They made me take off my glasses for the FIRST TIME ever, and I was told it's because they now have "facial recognition software" which doesn't like glasses "changing" a person's face! LOL

    2. Well shoot. I did mine online for the last renewal...I am glad they might let me smile then rather than looking like I was recently released. :)

  2. oooh we are still allowed to smile here in TX too.
    thankfully as otherwise I looked...CrAzY.
    Love the story as well.

  3. I had to go look. No, Kentucky doesn't have weight on driver's licenses, only height. Which isn't accurate, but they don't accept half-inches. (I have my patented "Yes, I AM smiling. If you want me to show my teeth I can SNARL," look, too.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  4. Jan,
    What a nice smile! And what a great story. Your description of the scene is so vivid, capturing all the subtleties and nervous moments. The clerk's meaningful question also made me think of the police officer sidling up to a car and asking the famous leading question, "Do you know how fast you were going?"

    I imagine the 145 may have been like a talisman guiding you gradually to your goal!

    We can't smile on our licenses. They probably figure that if people think the DMV is pleasant, more people will go there, and they'll be back to being crowded enough to require 2 hours like yours did.

    Instead, I am thinking of grafting Lady Gaga's picture onto mine. I just can't decide amongst the 1400+ outfits. Maybe the meat dress would rock it just right.

    Always good to see you here, Jan!

  5. Love this!!! I recently lost 80 lbs and I just said to a friend of mine that I will actually go to the RMV for a new picture when I need a new license because I look great. In MA, we don't have to declare our weight on our license, only our height. Great story!

  6. Love this!!! I recently lost 80 lbs and I just said to a friend of mine that I will actually go to the RMV for a new picture when I need a new license because I look great. In MA, we don't have to declare our weight on our license, only our height. Great story!


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