Saturday, August 25, 2007


Last Sunday morning I was sitting in the Covenant class when one of our ladies tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could help a gentleman who was in the lobby. I walked out to the lobby and saw a guy sitting on the couch. He appeared to be around 40 years old, and was not dressed like most people at Skillman on a Sunday morning...

I sat down next to him, told him my name, and asked how I could help him. He said his name was Jerry and that he had a job at a laundromat a couple of miles away. He had ridden to Skillman on his bicycle. He was supposed to get a better job driving a delivery van for the company that owned the laundromat, but his wallet had been stolen and he needed some money to get his drivers license replaced.

The easy thing to do would have been to give him some cash and send him 'gratefully' on his way, but it so happened that I was not carrying any cash that day. I asked him what time he had to be at work on Monday. He said he was supposed to be there at 10, so I told him that if he would meet me back here at 8 o'clock Monday morning I would take him to get his drivers license before he had to go to work.

He said he would try, but could I give him some money for food, so I took him to the grocery store and bought a couple of bags of groceries. We got back to the church building just as class was letting out. He loaded his grocery sacks onto his bicycle, thanked me, and rode off, and I went in to church. Afterwards, I arranged with one of the ministers to take him and get his license if he showed up Monday morning.

Monday morning, no Jerry. But around 8:30 Wednesday morning I got a call from the church office that he had called to see if I could pick him up at the laundromat and take him to get his license. I actually had some unscheduled time that morning, so I went and picked him up and took him to Dallas City Hall to get his license. I asked him what ID he had so that he could get his license, and he didn't have any. He had lost his birth certificate some time ago, and his social security card was in his stolen wallet along with his license. He said that a police officer had told him that it wouldn't be a problem, because he was in the computer...

It was a problem. I got a glimpse of the frustration faced by people without the resources to navigate the systems of government regulations - regulations that are in place for the common good, but often significant barriers for the poor among us.

There was a short line at the drivers license window, but a large group of people who had been through the short line and were waiting to be called. When we got to the window, the lady asked Jerry for some identification, and he told her that the officer said he wouldn't need any because he was in the compter. She handed him a sheet of paper with a list of acceptable forms of identification and asked if he had any of those. He told her his wallet and IDs had been stolen and asked what was he supposed to do. Her response was "Come back when you have one of these on the sheet".

One of the forms of ID on the sheet was a birth certificate, and there is also a birth certificate office at City Hall, so we went there next to inquire about getting a copy of his birth certificate. The lady there said it would be no problem to get a copy as long as he had a drivers license or some other valid form of identification. He told her that he didn't have any, and she said that if he had a parent or sibling with ID that they could get a copy. He told her that it would be to hard for his mother to get to City Hall, and she gave him a form that his mother could send in by mail. He said that his mother could not afford the $22 fee and I told him that I would pay for it.

Jerry was still a bit frustrated, but out of excuses at this point. We took the form, and I took him back to the laundromat. I handed him the $22 to pay for the copy of his birth certificate, and told him that as soon as he got it to call me, and we would go and get his drivers license. He hasn't called yet, but I'm hoping that he will....


Anonymous said...

Hi Craig. I am a friend of Susie. I have just moved to NC with my husband who is in the Army. I spent last week jumping through those same government hoops trying to obtain my NC drivers license. I was feeling very put out and irritated when after I had waited for two hours I found out that there was a problem with my social security card. I had to go wait at the SS office, get that taken care of, wait 24 hours and go back to the DMV the next day. I was really irritated! I have my birth certificate though and I now have all the pieces of paper that show I am who I say I am. I am praying Jerry will continue to try to jump through the hoops. I appreciate you writing this story. I am ashamed that I felt so put upon when there are those out there struggling much more than I am. I am thankful that I have Salvation and will never have to prove to God who I am. Sincerely in Christ, J.J. Anderson

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