Department of Motor Vehicles

On the day of the royal wedding I went to the DMV. I don’t have a good track record with the DMV. I get very nervous. If I’m not nervous, my fury over the pace of operations takes over and steam starts coming out of my scalp.

As a teenager, the nerves got me. I took out some DMV shrubbery. The shrubs were beyond a curb I had scaled while parking the car.


A few years later in New York, I popped in to the Express DMV in Manhattan to apply for my license after getting married. After about three hours of watching other applicants hit rock bottom, my number came up. I was changing to my married surname and keeping my maiden name as my middle name.

The DMV woman’s eyes popped right out of her head: “Girrrrllll! You just makin’ up names!”

Really? This seems pretty straightforward to me.

She insisted I keep my original middle name. As she turned around to confirm with her supervisor, I got a view of her hot red thong and an extra four inches of gluteus maximus that didn’t make it into her jeans. Mrs. Fire Thong now possessed the key to my new legal name. Superb!

But it’s the DMV: What choice do you have?


For all my bad luck I have never failed a DMV test or left without a license. I have managed to overcome my issues with no ramifications–especially since I learned that it’s legal to use an alias as long as you have no intent to defraud. I’m not usually into that kind of thing, but Mrs. Fire Thong left me no choice.

However, this is also not the kind of DMV history that allows you to blow in to the DMV like you own the place, throw down some shells (the only form of payment the DMV accepts), and leave with a laminated glamour shot of yourself.

I started praying as I left my driveway.

Hey, God! I know you’re at William and Kate’s reception, but I need some help with the DMV. If a really good dance song comes on, you can go back, but please try to stay through the written test.

That’s right, I had to take the written test.

Before I went I did the practice tests, lined up my conch shells, and assembled every form of identification I’ve ever received (including my membership card for the North American Guild of Change Ringers). I crossed myself before taking the test.

And I passed.

Because of Mrs. Fire Thong and my subsequent aliases, my Oregon DMV representative was obligated to enter a list of names I might go by into the computer before issuing my license. After naming off six she asked me, “Are there other names you might use?”

Um, no?


19 responses to “Department of Motor Vehicles

  1. “it’s legal to use an alias as long as you have no intent to defraud.”

    I use Jeff Bridges from time to time 😀

  2. Glad you got it all sorted out. Although how dare they question your choice of name?!

    I love DMV horror stories – when the experience is behind us, that is… Here’s mine!

    My US driving license was the last piece of ID to be updated with my new married name. My joy of discovering only 3 people ahead of me at the DMV on a Friday lunchtime was soon cut short. Despite having my passport, birth certificate, marriage license (all non-US documents), green card, driving license, credit cards, multiple utility bills, work ID, and – this is key – *two* social security cards (one in maiden, one in married name), I was told that there was nothing to link Lauren Maiden to Lauren Married. Oh, apparently foreign ID isn’t an acceptable form of ID. (Um, yes it is, how do you think I got a driving license in the first place?)

    A supervisor was called over. She proceeded to look at my passport and inform me that there was no way my green card was valid because I had entered the US as a fiancee of a US citizen – not on a green card. I politely tried to explain that she was WRONG. It was only when I told her that I didn’t really care whether or not my driving license remained in my maiden name, but the DMV ought to care that she called HER supervisor.

    Three hours later, it was decided that the two social security cards were the missing, acceptable link between me, the shaking human, with the binder of documentation scattered before the incompetent* civil servants.

    * As defined by how a person responds to a situation that does not conform to the status quo.

    • As K-Pants would say, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” Being at the DMV makes you feel like a toddler about to have a tantrum.

    • This is interesting since there was a Supreme Court Ruling in the 1980’s that made it clear that a woman can keep her maiden name after being married. Sounds like Ms. Fire thong was full of bull to me…They tried to tell me I had to to court to take my maiden name back…Well guess what?! For spite, I’ll take my birth certificate, go the social security office and change it back (since my kids are grown and I’m tired of wearing the ex’s name), and THEN go to the DMV. They cannot tell you WHICH names to keep because they are your names–especially your maiden. The ruling involved the woman suing because the state she lived in had this ongoing perception that she was her husband’s “property” and had to take his name. It didn’t fly with the high court. The only reason I knew about it was because I took two History courses devoted to Women in America from the 1700’s-present. If I ever remember the name of the ruling, I’ll post it for all to see.

      Lauren, I admire how you keep your cool with that kind of rubbish. I know I get results when I pull out two magic words at them–“Call Austin”–and end it with “before my lawyer has to.” They do not monkey with me any more but I would have asked that supervisor (Ms. Red Thong’s-that is) how someone who cannot even follow a professional dress code for state employment possibly be competent enough to tell me what the law says? Gee…I’m 48…I guess I’m too old for that crap! 😀 I can hear the “Thong Song Parody” playing now…If I have to have nightmares tonight–so does everyone else! Here’s the link and I hope you laugh your fannies off, but if Ms. Fire Thong looked anything like some of these–she seriously needs to be featured on “What NOT to Wear”, folks! That girl needs help! Anyway, this was on MAD TV…

      Even in my 20’s when I WAS hot, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a thong! Too much of a southern prude I guess.

  3. I kept my maiden name as a SECOND middle name. Gasp. Imagine the horror of having to put FOUR NAMES INTO THE COMPUTER.

    I forget whether it was the DMV or the SS office that did not, in fact, possess that capability, but at one of those (I’m fairly certain it was the DMV), I was informed I would have to hyphenate SOMETHING. It’s like she offered me a hyphen on a platter–insert where desired.

    I fully intend to change my name again when I get married in August. I will not be keeping the surname from my first marriage. I think the DMV would say that five names means I’m a terrorist.

  4. My last experience at the DMV was a very non-eventful. When I got to my local NJ DMV – the line OUTSIDE the building was so long I just kept on driving and have yet to attempt another visit!!!

  5. Even though I also just made up a name when I got married (because he, aren’t we ALL just making it up as we go along?), the DMV gave me no trouble when I told them I was using my husband’s name as a middle name and keeping my maiden name as my surname – go figure! I did wait until I had visited the Social Security office (who, incidentally, did not bat an eyelash at my name change) to head over to the DMV. I vividly remember one question from the written test from when I moved to Arizona over 20years ago, that being a multiple choice on what to do if you were driving on the freeway and the hood of your car popped open. Should you: A, keep driving; B, reach out the window and try to close the hood; C, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and fix the hood? When I mentioned it to the clerk, she said that there were people who got that one wrong. So it goes to show that sometimes the DMV clerks are not the only slowcoaches in the building!

    • Can’t stop laughing about that hood-of-the-car question. I’m imagining reaching out the window to bang it back down a la Ace Ventura. Definitely a safe option!

  6. The last time I took my oldest to the DMV he turned to me and said, “I love this place.” I’m watching him very carefully now. With an attitude like that, he might end up working for the IRS and volunteering to audit his own mother.

  7. As usual these people have no clue. When I went she told me that I couldn’t put my maiden name in the middle name spot because the computer wouldn’t accept it since it was my old last name blah blah blah. So I am legally no middle name, two last names. No hyphen. We’re all at the mercy of women in red thongs…

    • I love that she used the computer as the excuse! It seems like with a supervisor the computer can do anything, but in the hands of the red-thonged, it barely can type your first name…

  8. Last time I was at the DMV I didn’t have much trouble (wasn’t changing any names though)… The guy in front of me was wearing a wife-beater and an orange prison jumpsuit rolled down around his waist though. Maybe I just missed disaster…

  9. Well folks, I did some digging. This applies in TX but I can’t clearly say what it does for all states…Since my maiden name is documented on previous licenses in TX–I an return to it! I was going to do this just to show I can–and my mother is pressuring me to do it–because she hates the ex! LOL …Anyway, since the 1970’s and 80’s there have been many rulings by the USSC. For those in other areas, this will clear it up a LITTLE or confuse the daylights out of you all… Here’s a link that has a history of such rulings in the U.S. and it also covers English coverture laws to provide background history in the article. Now my head hurts from reading all this, so you might want to keep some Advil, Tylenol or a ball ping hammer handy to knock yourself out with when your eyes start crossing! 😀“In+Texas+can+a+married+woman+use+her+maiden+name”

  10. Love this. When I took my driving test at age 16 to get my first license, I failed. Although there may have been a few factors involved, I believe the proverbial nail in the coffin came when I backed into the parking space at the wrong angle and bumped ever so gently into the DMV building.

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