November 28, 2012

Mysterious Answer to Prayer

My driver’s license expired a few months ago. Contrary to popular myth, being a military spouse doesn’t give you an “everlasting driver’s license.” However, you do get a 90 day grace period. Luckily, we were already scheduled to head back to Oklahoma within that grace period, so I wasn’t too concerned. (No, I wasn’t going to get a Texas driver’s license. No sir.)

So while we were in Oklahoma, we had about 30 minutes one afternoon and went to a tag agency. I was fully prepared to convince whoever was behind the counter that, yes, I am allowed to renew an extremely out-of-date license because I get the military spouse grace period. Sure enough, a debate ensued which culminated with the employee phoning the state DMV office to see what was up.

Turns out, in Oklahoma you can’t just renew an out-of-date military license by walking into a tag agency with your spouse’s out-of-state orders, proof of Oklahoma residency, other valid photo ID and marriage license. No, you have to go to the actual DMV and see the Driver’s License Examiner.

And wait in line about 2 hours.

That wasn’t happening.

So we left Oklahoma (some time passed in there) and when we came back to Texas I prepared a packet to send in to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) renew my license by mail. Among other things, it included:

  • My Social Security Number
  • My current driver’s license number
  • My address in Texas
  • My address in Oklahoma
  • A copy of my military ID
  • A copy of my passport
  • A valid check (to pay for the new license)
  • A self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) so they could mail it back. Because Lord knows the state can’t afford a stamp. :/

I put everything together and sent it off. About a week later, I get the SASE back – empty. Which was odd. But then I noticed the postmark – it had been mailed from El Paso just the day before.

Let that sink in a minute. The SASE that was inside the envelope I mailed to Oklahoma with all my sensitive information, was mailed back to me from EL PASO almost a week after I mailed the original packet.

About 30 seconds after I saw the envelope I began to panic. Someone had to mail the SASE to me, because it was sealed and postmarked. But did they also have all that information listed up there? And if so, what did they do with it? If they were going to do something with it, why send me the empty SASE and tip me off? If they were basically decent people who weren’t going to do anything nefarious with my information, well, why not just send me all my info back?

And geez, just imagine what could happen with all that information. My military ID! My passport! My bank account! The wrong hands could ruin my life for a long, long time. I was ill.

SoldierMan comes home and I tell him the bad news. It takes us about 5 minutes to decide to purchase some of that “identity theft recovery” insurance. Not that that would prevent anything, but if the worst happened, hopefully we wouldn’t lose the house. I also considered filing a police report of some kind, in case some kind of criminal activity happened under my passport or something.

I was sure I was going to end up on the Do Not Fly list before it was all said and done.

Finally I resigned myself to the reality that there was nothing more we could do. We just prayed really hard that, if the paperwork was still floating around out there somewhere, whoever found them either sent it on or destroyed it. My last action was to email the DPS (after a marathon internet search for their contact info) just to see if the rest of the paperwork had somehow made it on up to OKC. I never heard back.

And that was that.

Monday, I came home from running errands and got the mail. Imagine my shock when I saw an envelope from the DPS with – drumroll please – my new license!

Whoever found the packet apparently thought the SASE was separate thing, sealed and mailed it to me, and then sent the original packet on. Which was a really weird thing to do, in my opinion. And about gave me a stroke. But I’ll take it.

So there you have it. A very strange answer to prayer, no idea how it happened or who was behind it. But boy am I thankful.

11 comments:

  1. So thankful that your prayers were answered and that Oklahoma could afford a stamp! (FYI - Some states do issue non-expiring licenses. My Washington state license is good until Cam leaves the service. In fact, the expiration date listed is "MILITARY".)

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  2. So glad nothing crazy happened! Hearing this makes me thankful for Nevada and how easy they have been to deal with.

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  3. YAAAY! I'm so happy to hear that for you. Oh, that's such wonderful news!

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  4. Happy ending! I bet that was super stressful.

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  5. So, someone opened your package, or found it open, removed your SASE (which they sent on to you), and sent all the rest on to it's original destination?

    You might want to report it to USPS, because if they opened it, that's a felony. Soooooo glad you got your license, though! It's really scary to lose that stuff.

    Someone stole J's debit card number right after we moved here. Fortunately they only spent a few hundred before the bank stopped the card and we got all that back.

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  6. If you would have switched to Texas you could have renewed online next time. And they are good a few years longer ;-) Glad everything worked out for you!

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  7. Oh girl, I had nightmare issues renewing an expired license after we returned from our post in Germany in October. I had to retake a driving test & get a lerner's permit!! It took an entire day of Chris's leave to sort out. Apparantly, he was given grace since he is active duty, but as a spouse, I had to start over like I had never driven before! Even though we showed them my name on his actual orders! I was beyond angry to say the least. I'm glad everything worked out for you :)

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  8. Oh girl, I had nightmare issues renewing an expired license after we returned from our post in Germany in October. I had to retake a driving test & get a lerner's permit!! It took an entire day of Chris's leave to sort out. Apparantly, he was given grace since he is active duty, but as a spouse, I had to start over like I had never driven before! Even though we showed them my name on his actual orders! I was beyond angry to say the least. I'm glad everything worked out for you :)

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  9. Phew that IS SCARY!

    I lost my mil ID a year ago. . . NEVER found it. . .and of course this had my spouse social on it :/ I'm glad they changed it now so it no longer has a social blatantly written on it. . . but I never did find my old ID :(

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  10. Oh wow! I would have definitely panicked and done the same thing you did. That's so wonderful though that it all worked out and you got your license without anyone stealing your information!

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  11. Awesome it came back! Scary stuff! In Washington we have a license that won't expire EVER as long as your spouse is Active Duty. Now how will they ever know when your spouse get's out??
    I have no idea but I was willing to switch so I did not have to keep renewing for a few years.

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