This week’s column

Orange County Reg­is­ter — North County News; Date: Oct. 25, 2018; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: A3

Am I a scofflaw, or just a né’er-do-well?

When I first began writ­ing for the Pla­cen­tia News-Times, I related the story of how I went to the ranch one day, think­ing I was a solid cit­i­zen and returned home to find a note, stat­ing I was a com­mon criminal.

The charges? I had let my dog’s license lapse…for five years.

In my defense, I had not received any­thing in the mail say­ing that my license fees were due. I called the author­i­ties to plead my case, but the woman on the phone was unmoved.

If you don’t get your credit card bill in the mail, do you assume you don’t owe them any money?” she asked, some­what snarkily.

I knew it wouldn’t do any good to point out that I receive my credit card bill every month, not once a year. I can’t even remem­ber to sched­ule my mam­mo­gram once a year with­out a sharp prod­ding from my doctor.

Recently, I found out that I have again become a scofflaw.

It began with a sim­ple trip to the credit union. I needed to make a trans­ac­tion that required a bank teller, so I went inside. As usual, I pro­duced my driver’s license for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, along with my bank account num­ber. The lovely woman looked up my infor­ma­tion, and checked my ID.

Did you know that your driver’s license is expired?”

Much like the dog license, my first response was to say, “But I never got a renewal notice.” My sec­ond response was to pick up my license and stare at it. She was right. It had expired on my birth­day this year.

My birth­day is in February.

I began to think about all the times I pre­sented my license as proof of my iden­tity. There were a few times at the bank, and each time I trav­eled, hotels asked for my license. No one ever pointed out that it was, in fact, no longer good.

Then I remembered—I had flown at least twice with an expired ID. In March, I went to Philadel­phia, and in June, I went to New Orleans. So four times, I stepped up to the TSA agent with my ticket and driver’s license proudly in hand, and they stamped their approval.

I’m torn between intense guilt at fly­ing with an invalid ID and want­ing to gig­gle like a tod­dler who’s just stolen a cookie.

When I wrote about my expired dog license, I had some inter­est­ing feed­back. Our police chief at the time sent me an email say­ing he wished had more crim­i­nals like me.

And I met a lady at a neighbor’s party who had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence, except she hadn’t paid the license because the dog had died. She could not seem to con­vince the author­i­ties that she no longer needed to license a dead dog.

I must say, I’m hop­ing no one else in Pla­cen­tia has acci­den­tally let their driver’s license expire. I’m pretty sure it’s more seri­ous than not renew­ing your dog’s license.

And if the police are read­ing this, please know that I left the bank that day and imme­di­ately went home, logged into the DMV web­site, and renewed my license online.

Of course, now I’m won­der­ing if let­ting two dif­fer­ent types of licenses expire makes me some kind of repeat offender. It’s a good thing I can’t let my mar­riage license expire.

I’d hate to have three strikes on my record.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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