I started driving thirteen years ago, shortly before moving to Texas. In this state, your driver's license expires on your birthday every six years. But since I've moved four times and changed my name twice (once after I got married and once after I got un-married) in the last thirteen years, I had never gotten to the point of natural expiration, always proactively going to get a new license. But since 2005, I've remained at the same address with the same last name. (And happily - but not legally - married since 2006.)
As 1/2/2011 approached, and I did not receive an expiration notice in the mail as I had wrongly assumed, I was on my way to the sparse and remote region of Big Bend, where internet access is limited, with a soon-to-be useless driver's license in my wallet. Fortunately, out in Terlingua, Texas one does not get carded - it would have been most ironic to be denied an alcoholic drink on my 34th birthday for lack of current identification. But if you want to know real irony, keep reading.
Immediately after my return to Austin, I went online, renewed my license and printed out a temporary permit to use until I received my new card in the mail. The permit would allow me to legally drive, but it did not specify anything about the ability to also legally drink or purchase medication with pseudoephedrine. Of course, my birthday had to be at the very beginning of January, the start of the horrific cedar allergy season in Central Texas. And this season is stacking to be one of the worst in recent history.
Walking around yesterday in windy, cold, and dry conditions - beautiful at first sight, but perfect breeding grounds for cedar pollen - I decided to go to the CVS pharmacy to purchase Zyrtec D, just in case my symptoms flared up. I was feeling slightly sniffly, but otherwise, not too bad. Upon walking into CVS, I began sneezing violently. I lost count...I sneezed maybe 10 or 12 times in a row. Enough that I lost my general sense of balance and direction, asking a fellow customer if she knew where the facial tissue aisle was located, and honestly, tempted to run out of CVS for my dear life, truly wondering if they planted cedar pollen inside as a conspiracy to sell more antihistamines. But I gathered my wits, found the Kleenex, and headed to the pharmacy counter, hoping they would not notice my expired driver's license. After all, it was only six days past the expiration. Would they really deny me relief?
Well, yes they would. Because everything is digital and automated now, they must electronically swipe your driver's license. And my renewal wasn't yet processed in the Texas Department of Transportation's computerized systems. My temporary paper permit wasn't good either. I silently cursed all the meth-makers for making my life miserable at that very moment. And the absolutely irony is that if I wouldn't have walked into CVS in the first place, I probably wouldn't really have needed the allergy relief.
The moral of my story is this: if you have a January birthday and live in Central Texas, don't let your driver's license expire. You can take the bus instead of driving, you can abstain from alcohol, but you can't hide from the cedar.