Yesterday I drove my daughter, newly arrived from NSW, – let’s call her Mary Jane to protect the innocent, and yes, names are a key component of this sorry saga – to the Qld Transport Department, to replace her NSW license with a Qld one.
An illuminating, if disturbing experience.
We arrived at opening time, expecting to be in and out in a few minutes.
Mary Jane handed her old license to the counter person, who diligently attacked her keyboard.
After a moment, her expression darkened. “You,” she said, “have had a license in Qld before.”
“That’s right,” Mary Jane replied. “Years and years ago, before I moved south.”
“On that license, your name was listed as Mary Jane Louise, but on this license,” the counter person picked up the NSW iteration, as though it was something a dog might have regurgitated, “you have only Mary Jane.”
“Louise is my third name; I stopped using it years ago.”
The darkened look turned the colour of a hail cloud; a crimson nailed finger extended. A button was pushed.
An alarm sounded. A barrier slammed across the front door. Black clad troopers carrying guns with disturbingly short barrels crashed through the windows…
That’s not what actually happened.
The counter person’s supervisor arrived; a woman of gargantuan proportions - she could easily have breastfed the entire Federal Opposition, (for most of whom, an appropriate way for them to intake their daily nutritional requirement) – with an expression designed to intimidate.
And it did.
After hearing the story, she turned on Mary Jane the way the USS Ronald Reagan turns into the wind to launch a squadron of F18s.
“This,” she said as she reached into a recess on the wall and withdrew a proforma, “will have to go to the Identity Management Unit.”
Now, there’s something about that phrase that simply strikes fear. It’s Orwellian, gullagian even.
Mary Jane paled noticeably.
And, yes, it turns out that the Qld Government really does have an Identity Management Unit.
“It’s a matter of possible identity theft.”
“But,” Mary Jane mumbled, “I have my NSW license, my new address rates bill, my credit cards, my medicaire card and my face.”
“Yes. I’m here. Standing before you. All of this is about the absence, or should I say, presence, of my third name. Everything else is fine.”
To my amazement, the supervisor managed to become even more gargantuan.
“We have,” she said, in sepulchral tones, “procedures.”
Where the public service is concerned, there’s no answer to that.
We waited in guilt ridden silence for forty minutes during which time the supervisor stood, intent as an Easter Island head, with the phone attached to her monumental ear.
From time to time, she grunted.
Eventually, she hung up and turned to us. “You will,” she intoned, “be issued with a letter.”
Oh, God, I thought, not a letter.
Some time later, the letter was handed to Mary Jane. It told her that if she didn’t receive her license by post within fourteen days, she should call the department. Failure to do so within an additional two weeks would mean paying a new fee and starting all over
A sad story, however, you may rest easy tonight, knowing that Queensland’s Identity Management Unit is diligently protecting Queenslanders from people with too many names.