Lucky me. My driver's license came up for renewal during all this social distancing and the COVID-19 precautions.
Well before the expiration date, I started researching how to go about getting this most necessary form of identification renewed and switched over to REAL ID while I was at it.
But, alas. Now, I just couldn't go to a Department of Motor Vehicles branch on almost any weekday to get this done. Instead of being open Monday through Friday, the branch is only open two days a week, until further notice. And, you must make appointments to visit a branch.
I did that online. And, I arrived early, out of worry the appointment would be canceled were I more than 10 minutes late, per the rather urgent-sounding text the DMV sent me to remind me of the appointment.
Outside the building, every available parking space was full. People were standing and sitting outdoors. Those with appointments were told to wait on one side of the lawn and those without, the other. Tape on the sidewalk in front of the building designated how far apart people should be while waiting in line.
A courteous employee took names, answered questions and handed out applications and forms. In and out of the front door she went, noting the appointment schedule was running a tad behind. At least one person got frustrated and left when he realized he now has until Oct. 1, 2021, to get a REAL ID.
In all, I spent a little more than an hour at the DMV.
When it was my turn, the employee who took names upon arrival escorted me into the building. She told me at which window to submit my paperwork and assorted proofs of residence and identification.
This whole time, except for when my photo was taken, I was wearing a cotton mask with elastic ear loops and squirting hand sanitizer into my palms if I touched something that didn't belong to me. But, not everyone around me was doing the same.
I started to wonder about that, especially with cash changing hands for IDs, tags and whatnot. But, each counter window does have a sneeze guard in place now. I guess that's fine if you are standing directly in front of the counter window and not seated at or below the counter height.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control created these sneeze guards to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Also, templates can be downloaded for these sneeze guards, which are in place at DHEC and SCDMV offices and at some convenience stores and restaurants.
My paperwork was processed. I paid the $25 to get the new REAL ID license and I had my photo taken for the ID.
Now, I'm good to go for the next eight years. Maybe, just maybe, this new normal will revert to something a little like the old normal and I can use this swanky new form of identification to fly to a lovely destination inside the United States for a little change of scenery, someday soon.