Getting Real at the Driver’s License Office

Plain Scale

The State of Kansas has figured out an excellent way to make sure you remember to renew your driver’s license – make the expiration date your birthday!  Kansas has a 6 year term on their licenses, and as I’ve lived in KS for 6-ish years and my birthday is this week, I had the lovely experience of visiting my friendly neighborhood driver’s license to get a shiny new license.

Most people consider a trip to the license bureau to be right up there with a root canal or walking across a bed of hot coals.  While I certainly don’t consider renewing my license to be one of my top 10 favorite things to do, Kansas has actually figured out how to make it much less painful than it used to be, even in light of all the issues they’ve had with their new computer system.  They sent me a card telling me *exactly* what documents to bring along when I renew my license, which basically amounted to a utility bill and my old driver’s license.  And they also have a truly cool system where you put yourself in line via text message, which meant that instead of driving 40 minutes from my work to the license office near my home and then waiting 45 minutes for my turn, I was able to send a quick text message, drive to the license office, and wait less than 5 minutes for my turn.  That is right up there with sliced bread in my book.

When my turn came, I turned over my license and electric bill to the friendly lady at Window 3 who was processing my renewal.  She asked me a few perfunctory questions confirming my name, address and suchlike, and then she asked me the question that stumped me.

“Is your weight still 220?”

My mind froze for an instant, and then I was taken back to the last time a friendly lady that may or may not have been at Window 3 asked me this question in 2007.  That was the year I got my first Kansas driver’s license, shortly after I moved here, and my weight was most definitely not 220 that day. It was more like 245, but I had them list it at 220 because I was embarrassed. Given that I was replacing a Missouri license that said I was 160 (a weight I haven’t seen since about 1996) I figured that even if I was fudging things, I was a heckuva lot closer than I used to be so it’s OK, right?

Fast forward to 2012, and I’m faced with the question again. But here’s the interesting thing. This time, my weight actually was CLOSE to what was listed on my license – probably for the first time since the late 1990’s.  To be exact, when I stepped on the scale that morning, my weight was 222.4.

I told Ms. Window 3 that for the first time I could remember, I actually weighed almost what my license said.  I even jokingly told her that I weighed 245 the last time I got my license, so I guessed that mean I should list 195 on my license this time. She just smiled and said….

“Ma’am, you can list whatever weight you want.  I had a woman in here yesterday who clearly weighed over 300 pounds but her license said 150.  When I asked her what weight to list, she told me to keep it the same, so I did. We can’t make you list your actual weight, and we don’t exactly have a scale here at the license office anyway.”

What a revelation – I truly could list whatever weight I wanted!  My mind raced for a moment.  My weight that day was 222.4, my goal weight is around 165, and whenever I ask people what they *think* I weigh, most of them will say I look like I weigh 180 or 190.  I could list ANY of those weights, and as far as the State of Kansas was concerned, it was A-OK.

Briefly, I thought about my post last week about Health Accountability – which recounts my recent wake up call that I need to stop lying to myself about why I am not making progress losing more weight.  And I knew what I had to do.

“Can you list 222 on my license? That’s what I weighed this morning.” I said to Ms. Window 3.

She smiled and said “If that’s really what you weigh, why don’t we keep it at 220. Usually people round to the nearest 5 or 10 pounds”.

So that’s what I did.  My new driver’s license lists the same weight as my old one, but this time – it’s much, much different. For the first time in well over a decade, the weight on my license will be the TRUTH – or very, very close to the truth anyway.

And with some hard work and maybe a little bit of luck, by the time the new one arrives in the mail in 2 to 6 weeks, maybe it will be wrong again.

I think I’d like that.

6 responses to “Getting Real at the Driver’s License Office

  1. The last time I got my license renewed the lady asked me what weight I’d like to have listed on my license. I chuckled and asked her if she meant what I’d like for it to be or what it really should be. She just smiled, and I also went for honesty. I do wonder, though, how many people are truly honest about that particular information.


  2. I had a similar experience in October, when I renewed my license. Maryland used to require a new picture every 10 years (it’s less now, I think), so it had been 10 years since I last went in and really changed things. Ten years ago was one of the worst times of my life and I really didn’t know what I weighed, but I went with what I thought was true at 165. Today I weigh 20 pounds more than that, having been 40 pounds more in the middle. I told the truth. The lady looked surprised. Must not happen very often.


    • Thanks for sharing your story! I think it really is rare for people to make a point to tell the truth. I’m pretty gratified that several of my friends are the type who tell the truth on their license! Shows how cool my people are. 🙂


  3. I just got my driver’s license renewed (this time I got to do it by mail). I’m currently just under the weight listed on it, which I don’t think I’ve thought to change in ~15 years. Hmmmm.


    • Hilary, you are in a sweet spot – you took action that made your driver’s license weight be truthful! I’m not sure how close your current weight is to the DL weight, but if it’s within about 5 pounds, I’d keep it the same and shoot for making the next renewal the one where you have to change it because you’re a lot lower!


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