Message modified by board administrator February 18, 2012, 4:01 pm
Back in 2004, the Kingston Trio was on tour through several states on the east coast. We'd rented a car for the tour and as usual Bob Shane took the captain's seat - he loved to drive. However, he hated seat belts, so whenever he'd rent a car he'd find some way to disable the seat belt so that the alarm wouldn't ring even though he wasn't wearing it.
One of the stops on our tour was in North Carolina. We had a day off there and a friend of Bob's invited us to a party. When this friend showed up at the hotel to lead us to the party, Bob decided to ride with him and he asked me to drive the other boys and follow in the rental car. When I got into the car I tried to undo the seat belt so I could use it, but it was taking too long and the lead car was getting impatient. So off we went with me wearing no seat belt.
As fate would have it, we came upon a state patrol check point of some sort and I got busted for not having my seat belt on. Bob did offer to pay the ticket ($40 or something) but I figured I wouldn't be back to North Carolina ever again so I blew it off.
Fast forward to October, 2011. My birthday was approaching and my driver's license was due to expire. I went down to the DMV to renew my license and after the eye test the clerk was looking up my record in the computer and he says, "Oh, I see you have an outstanding warrant in North Carolina. I can't issue your license until that's cleared up."
So I came home and we called the North Carolina DMV. They informed me that in order to clear my record I owed them $360 (on a $40 ticket!) Well, we freaked out, 'cause we didn't have that kind of money. Problem was, we were headed to Oregon in a few weeks and we were renting a car to drive out there. I needed my driver's license before that trip.
Meri, ever willing to try and solve any problem, asked who we could speak with about this. The DMV gave her the phone number for the DA in the jurisdiction where this happened and Meri called him. Turns out he is somewhat of a Kingston Trio fan and since I had no other record in North Carolina and since he believed Meri's story about Bob Shane making me drive the rental car with the disabled seat belt he decided to dismiss the charge against me. He said it could take a couple weeks for this to go through the system.
So I waited the two weeks and went back to the local DMV to get my license. The eye test went fine, but when my record came up on the computer - oops! I still had that outstanding warrant in North Carolina! WTF???
So I came home and we called the DA in North Carolina to see what was up. He said that the charge had been dismissed and it probably just hadn't made it through the system yet. I gave it another week, went back to the DMV and - nope - still had that ticket on my record. They gave me another phone number in North Carolina to call and the woman I spoke with said, yes, the ticket had been dismissed but in order to clear my record I had to pay a $50 reinstatment fee. Well, why didn't they tell me that before???
By this time we were within just a few days of our Oregon trip and I was really getting concerned that I wasn't going to get my license in time. The woman at the North Carolina DMV told me I had three options: (1) I could have somebody I know in North Carolina come in and pay this reinstatement fee by cash in person. (I don't know anybody in North Carolina, so that was not an option.) (2) I could send them a personal check and wait about a month for that to clear. (Again, not an option as our Oregon trip was looming.) Or (3) I could send them a cashier's check overnight and allow three business days for that to clear and go through the system. This was on Wednesday, Nov. 9th and Friday was Veteran's Day - Government offices closed!
So we went to the bank, got the check and sent if off overnight to North Carolina. We confirmed that it was received the next day, but with Friday being a holiday, there went one of my three days. I waited through the weekend on pins and needles - even waited through Tuesday just to give it the full three days. On Wednesday I got up bright and early full of hope that I would finally be able to get my license. I got to the DMV and stood in line for 20 minutes until they opened.
When my turn came, the eye test went fine, but then when my record came up in the computer the clerk looks up and says, "Is your name Robert Haworth?" I confirmed that it is. And she says, "Well that doesn't match the name on your Social Security card and I can't issue you a license." My heart sank, my knees went weak and I nearly cried. "So what do I have to do to get a license in this state? And how did I ever get one before now? I've had my Social Security card under the name BOB Haworth since I was 15."
"Well, you'll have to go to the Social Security office and have them change the name on your S.S. card to Robert."
I dashed back home, grabbed my birth certificate from the safe (as well as my expired passport just in case) and Meri and I headed off to the Social Security office. After about a half-hour wait we were called to a window and I explained this whole thing to the lady behind the glass. She said "No problem, we can take care of this." So I handed her my birth certificate for proof of who I was and she said that wasn't sufficient proof of my identity. She asked for my driver's license. "Oh - no - can't accept that - it's expired. Oh, and so is your passport. Well, I'm sorry - I can't help you."
I blurted out, "There's got to be a way. I need to renew my driver's license!!!" So she says if I bring in my medical records signed by my doctor that would be acceptable. OK, OK - Meri was actually planning on seeing the doctor that day anyway. I'd just gotten my Medicare card in the mail and this would be a good opportunity for me to get signed up with the same doctor. But wait - I'd never seen him before, so how would he have any records on me? Worry and fret all the way down to the doctor's office.
So I got signed up with the doctor on my Medicare card and after about 20 minutes they called us into the exam room. He took care of Meri's issue first and then I went through this whole story with the doctor. He said, "Well, we can write up something official-looking and I'll sign it as your physician and we'll see if that works."
Back to the Social Security office with my "medical records" in hand, only to wait in line again. Finally back to the same window and the lady looks over the document from the doctor and says, "OK - this works. We'll change your name to Robert." (My mother will be thrilled!) She said it would take 24 hours to get that info into the system and I'm thinking - yeah, right!
Next morning I was third in line at the DMV when they opened. Eye test went fine and, lo and behold - my name was now Robert, which matched my old driver's license record, the North Carolina issue was gone and so, Mr. Robert Haworth, you may now have your driver's license.
And not a moment too soon! We had to pick up the rental car for our Oregon trip that afternoon, and finally I had a valid driver's license in hand. It took me six weeks to accomplish what I thought orignally was going to take me an hour.
What did I learn from all this? A couple things. First, if you're on the road with Bob Shane, say "no" to driving the rental car. Second, if you get a ticket in a foreign country such as North Carolina, PAY UP!