Thursday, January 20, 2011

Counting My Blessings Again

It's been two years for me and Barack. He only got sworn in as President of the United States. But I got my life back.

Two years ago today I had my left knee replacement surgery. I'm doing much better with simple things like walking, but not so much with more complicated things like kneeling. These days I sit to say my prayers, but mentally I'm kneeling. I'm not doing 5K races and I'm not sprinting all over big box stores like a teenager, but I am out there and into life. My second surgery was February 17, meaning the left one had to be the "good" leg I could depend on. It sort of worked that way.

Now I note the milestones – doing stairs, shopping without riding the motorized cart, even just standing around talking is progress. I'll never take for granted the ability to walk without pain.

I'm so grateful for modern medicine. And plastic and steel and the way the human body adapts. I've catalogued my experience here before so I won't repeat it, but today I'm thinking about where I might be if I hadn't done it - in a wheelchair.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cattle Call

In the theatrical world, auditions are known as cattle calls, but that's what I felt like yesterday when I went to get my driver's license renewed at the East Bay location in south Provo. I dreaded waiting in long lines and sitting there with nothing to do while the process moved like a herd of snails on parade, so I came prepared with a sandwich and a book.

However, the line was surprisingly short and I went happily to the first window where the process begins. My good mood didn't last long. I'd forgotten my social security card - not my number, but the card that proves it's my number. Never mind that the number is in my head, on the medicare card in my possession, and I had to have it to get the passport I presented to them, but no, that wasn't enough. If I couldn't find the actual card itself, the clerk told me with a smile (am I paranoid or did I detect a certain sense of power-mad glee in it?) that I could get a replacement at some other government office some distance away where I would be privileged to stand in another line.

No thanks. It was mid-afternoon and I knew that by the time I went home and found the card, I'd come back to this office and find longer lines. It was risky since the office buttons up precisely at 4 p.m. No exceptions, no mercy.

Though I didn't remember exactly where the card was, I knew sort of where I might have put it in my desk, so I went home to west Provo, found it, and drove back to the driver license office. There's only one Window #1 where the process starts. Other people at windows 2, 3 and 4 weren't that busy because people weren't funneling through Window #1 very quickly. (I'm reaching for a dysfunctional alimentary canal metaphor here that would apply to dealing with government institutions but it isn't working so I'll skip it.)

In its infinite wisdom, the Utah Legislature changed the law so new and renewal licensees have to show four forms of identification. I brought my passport, birth certificate, proof that we paid property taxes in Utah County this year, copies of paid utility bills, and my driver's license. In lieu of the social security card I could have brought a W-2 form, but I don't work, so I don't get those anymore. Faxed or photocopied documents are unacceptable, and if your name is different than the last time you got a license, the law says you have to have documentation for the change. We have government assurance that images of all these documents will be kept in a "secure database."

Now if the Utah Legislature doesn't think I am who I say I am with proof from three documents and 35 years of paying taxes in this state, what makes them think four will be stronger proof? And how do I know that database is really secure? I'm just asking. If the Legislature wants to do something useful, they could put the social security office, the passport office, and the driver license office all in the same vicinity, next to the city office and the county courthouse. With drink dispensers.

As I left those hallowed precincts, was it my imagination or did I really hear sounds of mooing from the 20 people still standing in line?

Anyway, I medicated with chocolate as soon as I got home and I'm fine now. My new license should be here in time for my birthday next week.