“Ma’am, your driver’s license number is invalid.”
Excuse me? I’ve had the same number since I was 16. “Uh, can you please enter it again?”
She does. She enters it again. I hear the sad little sound of denial coming from the cash register computer machine. It’s the familiar sound of failure.
As an aside, why does the chip reader on the card machines make such a terrible noise? It always makes me think something is wrong. Nevermind, I answered my own question. There’s no way to forget your card when the machine keeps screaming at you. Makes sense. It’s still a scary sound.
I ask the girl to please try again. She complies with my request. I’m starting to sweat. Why isn’t my license valid? Is there a warrant out for my arrest? Is that how they catch people? Has my license been suspended for some unknown reason? Am I about to have to call my husband to bail me out of jail? Surely they’ve seen me on camera by now, so there’s no way I can leave without handcuffs.
The line behind me is growing. A nice older man, sitting on his Rascal, doesn’t seem to be too bothered by the delay. He notices the snacks I’m buying and gives his commentary on each one. “I really like those little muffins, you know. They are delicious with my Sanka in the morning. You should go back for Cheezit Grooves, though. I could live on those.” The woman behind him tells me it’s the first time she’s stood still all day, and she’s happy for a break. The pleasantries don’t stop my perspiration. The people toward the end of the line, who are assuming it’s my fault, don’t seem as pleased. Eye rolling and sighing is in full effect.
“Do you mind suspending my order, so these people can go ahead?” I hate to make everyone wait, especially if they’ll have to sit through the reading of my Miranda rights.
“Well, I can, but I’ll have to cancel the whole order. You’ll have to talk to my manager.” I’m fine with that. I ask her to run it again, this time calling it out to her. Terrible machine noise again. What the heck? She’s getting frazzled. She seems done with me.
“What’s the error message? Does it tell you the exact problem?” It’s my last ditch effort to avoid a night in the clink.
“It says it needs to start with two letters.”
In the sweetest, least panicky way I can muster, and after taking a deep, cleansing breath, I tell her that my license number has been the same for 24 years, and it hasn’t ever started with letters. I ask if hers does. She doesn’t think so. We stare at each other for one whole second that lasted 10 minutes. The people in line are laughing, and telling me it’s okay. Wait. “Do you need to tell the cash register computer machine from which state my license comes?”
She is skeptical. She’s annoyed. She wants me gone. Her now shaky hands type “GA,” followed by the number, and the check runs through the machine. My receipt prints. I thank everyone for their patience, and I’m on my way.
A check! I know. It’s my fault. I wrote a check. Who does that? I won’t do it again. I shouldn’t expect her to know the procedure, when I’m probably the only person to write one in 2017. To be fair, it was a booster club check for school. At least I know my license number still works. They may not take checks, but liquor stores require a valid ID for the purchase of wine. Cheers!