A Photo Most Vile

I know it sounds strange, but I’ve never taken a bad driver’s license photo. Ever since my first one, when all the kids passed the card around laughing at one another, my photos have been decent. Not ones that I’d frame, mind you, but ones that I don’t mind handing over when I buy cold medicine (must…resist….rant) or try to board a plane.

Until now.

Oh, dear God, the HORROR.

It all started (and ended) one day in January, when I realized that my license had, technically, expired.  In Iowa, we get a 60-day grace period.  Good thing, because I’m used to Illinois, where they send you a postcard, reminding you that you’re about to expire.  I don’t even know what made me look at it, but sure enough, it expired in December of 2010.  So I made myself look decent – combed my hair, put on a spot of makeup – and hotfooted it down to the courthouse.  Filled out the necessary paperwork, wrote the check, and stood in front of the camera.

“Don’t smile,” came the instruction.  I flattened my lips, still staring at the camera.

“Don’t smile!” she said again.  I flattened my lips a little more.

“DON’T SMILE!!!” she was practically yelling at  me.  “We have Facial Recognition Software, and it doesn’t work if you SMILE!!!  SO DON’T SMILE!!!”

I frowned.  She snapped the picture.

Holy hell, I’ve just had my first Mugshot.  I kid you not.  It….is….HEINOUS.  See for yourself:

I’ve stood in front of the mirror, trying to recreate that face, and I CANNOT do it.  I have no idea who the woman in that picture is.

Ok, so Riddle Me This, Batpeople…

Why is it that England can have Closed Caption TV Cameras all over London, capturing pictures of every Tom, Dick, and Jane running around on the streets, and can identify people as they go traipsing by?  I’ll bet lots of those people are smiling, talking, wearing hats, beards, and sunglasses, and still, they can identify them. (I know this, of course, because I’m a fan of the BBC Show “Spooks” (also known in the states as MI:5), and we all know that if it’s on a TV show, it is absolute, incontrovertible fact)

I’ll bet our own CIA and FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and TSA have the same … ok, maybe not TSA.  Hugh Heffner and Larry Flint have the joint  contract on their software.  But the others have plenty of decent FRSoftware that can recognize people… even if they smile.

I guess that’s a tip to Iowa Criminals: if you’re going to rob a bank, make sure you SMILE.  They’ll never find you!

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15 Responses to A Photo Most Vile

  1. Ellen says:

    First of all, the picture isn’t bad, really. But I can imagine you are upset about the woman. And second, I love your story 🙂

  2. SKL says:

    Sounds like that lady is not very bright. Don’t take it personally! As for the photo, it isn’t bad. You should see my passport photo – and it has to be shown for 10 years. (Still not sure why I didn’t do a re-take.) Don’t even get me started on the whole ID photo thing, LOL.

    I usually do get decent drivers’ license photos. But now that I have said that, surely the next one I get will be horrible.

  3. DM says:

    guess what 🙂 I have to do the same thing today (go in and get my license renewed because I too forgot..good thing there is a grace period….that ticks me off that we can’t smile….you need to post a smiling picture now 🙂

  4. mssc54 says:

    I think the DMV uses Photoshop-DMV for their software! It downgrades each photo by 25% or more. 😉

  5. Laura says:

    I am seriously considering chucking the card in front of my neighbor’s combine during harvest. Then bringing the chopped-up thing in for evidence that I need a replacement. THEN, I’ll make sure I smirk or something. ANYTHING to get rid of that saggy-faced alien.

  6. Nikki says:

    I smiled, and she didn’t yell at me. It was a slight smile, nothing big. I just had to do this recently too…it was way over due. Oops. I have never been told not to smile. My brother even wore his baseball cap, that I couldn’t believe. I can’t imagine that is normal, the person probably wasn’t paying much attention.

    It’s not bad, but if you don’t like it…spend the $12, or whatever it is and get a new one. You’ll have it for 4 years, so to me it’d be worth it, if I was that unhappy with it.

  7. Joy says:

    Oh Laura. How you make me laugh. I’ll make sure if I’m ever on the run I’ll hide out in Iowa smiling!!!

    We aren’t supposed to smile BIG or anything but we can grin or smile small. I smiled too big 2 licenses ago and the lady, in a very stern voice, told me to “tone down the smile” because we might not be recognized by police!! I thought, “what the hell does that mean?” I guess if I was robbing a bank or getting a DUI, I wouldn’t be happy. Who knows?

    There were a LOT of rules and regulations when I went for my Canadian residency. It was ridiculous!! This stuff just doesn’t make any sense. I had to go to a certain photographer. It has to be a certain size. NO SMILE AT ALL and it had to be a certain brown color. Crazy. I really look like a wanted felon in that photo.

    You’re a NUT!!!! Great post.

  8. SKL says:

    In my state, they sock you with a big fine if you are a day late. They never even bothered to warn people before this took effect. We used to have a grace period, but those were the good old days.

  9. Joy says:

    We have a long grace period here. I think it’s 6 months but if you’re caught “being naughty” I think you’ll get a fine. I’ve been this late once and never got into any trouble when I went to renew.

  10. Karen Joy says:

    Well Laura my photo is pretty similar to yours.I cant understand the no smile thing either.I dont really care how mine looks,no one ever sees it any how.Wait,I did show it in AZ when using my credit card.Otherwise I never show it and if Im stopped by police the last thing Im worried about is how I look in the pic!LOL!But yes,I too dont understand why we wouldnt be recognizable if we smile..sheesh..thats so dumb!Here in Manitoba we get a notice in the mail a month or so before its due so Im never late.Actually mine is sitting here on the desk waiting to be paid.

  11. Phyllis says:

    Laura, I agree that the lady in the pic really looks NOTHING like the Laura I’ve known and loved since she was 1 yr old! Screw it…. just get it redone on a day that women photographer ( and I use the term VERY loosely) isn’t on duty! It’ll be worth the expense!

  12. Sue says:

    Oh Laura, I’m so sorry you hate your photo 😦 I had a not cute one 2 times ago I think and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it! Now, the picture on my AST card is another story! THAT looks like my mugshot!

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