Photo of wall lined with anonymous mailboxes
dcJohn/Flickr

Who am I? I’ve been getting that question a lot lately.

Over a month ago, I made a purchase at one of my favorite department stores in D.C. I used my Visa card. The young clerk, whom I was unfamiliar with, asked to see my ID. I said “no problem,” and gave it to her while I was filling my own bag.

She sat my ID on the counter while I finished arranging my belongings. I did not notice it there and left to go about my day. When I realized it was missing and returned to the store, the security guard that knows me there said he held it for a while but dropped it in the mailbox on the third day.

That same week, while selling this illustrious periodical near a public school, I spied a photo ID on the ground. It was a D.C. One Card, with the school’s name on it. I returned it to the school where a teacher assured me that it would find its owner.

After a week I had not yet received my ID card. It seems now everyone I encounter finds that I don’t know who I am, and requires proof. So I called 311 to inquire whether or not they have my card and if so, how I might get it. Yes we do and no you can’t was their response.

They have my valid ID, but will not mail it to me. Nor may I personally retrieve it. I must purchase a new identification card. So I asked, what is the purpose of telling the public to drop found IDs in the mail to “protect others from identity theft?” That is not exactly what happened when the United States Postal Service became part of this process. Now I have no idea whose hands my ID card has been through or what they are capable of doing.

You tell me that you’re going to keep my valid property for which I’ve paid. AND you will force me to buy another copy. When were you going to let me know that you had it if I hadn’t called? Never.

This is my hometown’s idea of integrity. This is how you treat your citizens. Look at the date of birth on that card: I’m 60.  The D.C. DMV took something of mine and I have no recourse. I suggested that the 311 operator see that a statement is issued to inform the general public of what happens when someone drops your government issued ID in a mailbox. I was told she couldn’t do that, at which point I asked that she tell her supervisor an irate and disgusted citizen asked her to do so.

That is reason number 857,622 why I am ashamed of my hometown!

That student is leading a carefree life with proof of her identity. I, on the other hand, have to purchase another birth certificate and non-driver’s license. That’s $40. And a day of my life I can’t get back! The original card is out there someplace. Where, I may never know?!
I’m marking my phone number on the back of the new one. Under that will read: PLEASE DO NOT MAIL!!!!