Maria Soto is your average 21st century woman. Although she still uses the name of her first husband, that marriage has become part of the past and she now lives on her own.
Recently, Maria lost her job working at a local college. Though the job was stressful at times, she enjoyed working there and was not looking forward to searching for new work.
Before Maria could even think about starting to look for a new job, she realized her ID had expired. “Even if I could get a job interview, they wouldn’t hire me without that little card,” Maria thought to herself.
As she considered what this meant, a chill overcame her. Maria would have to go to the D - M – V!
From the moment Maria stepped into the DMV waiting room, something felt different. No one made eye contact with her, and when they did look her way, it was like they were looking right through her – as if she was invisible. So, when her number was finally called, Maria was relieved that the teller could at least see and hear her.
Maria presented her birth certificate, Social Security card, and proofs of address to the teller.
“I’m sorry. Soto is your married name?” the DMV employee asked. “Because the name on your Social Security card and the name on your birth certificate don’t match, we’ll need to see your marriage license to be able to issue an ID.”
Starting to feel tense, Maria replied, “I would have to go to Illinois to get my marriage license. How would I even get there? I can’t fly without an ID!”
The teller repeated, “I’m sorry. Because the name on your Social Security card and the name on your birth certificate don’t match, we’ll need to see your marriage license to be able to
issue an ID.”
Maria again replied, slowly losing her patience, “I have no way of getting that marriage license. I can’t move on with my life until I get this ID. There has to be another way.”
Once again, the teller replied, “I’m sorry. Because the name on your Social Security card and the name on your birth certificate don’t match, we’ll need to see your marriage license to be able to issue an ID.”
Maria looked at the teller who was beginning to sound like a broken record. Until that moment, Maria had not noticed the sleek, polished, distinct features of the teller, and she had not noticed that every other teller in the row looked exactly the same.
Startled by this revelation, Maria stumbled back from the counter shouting, “Are there any real people in this place?!”
The room fell silent. No one in the waiting room moved. They didn’t react to Maria’s cries for help at all. It was as if none of them could see or hear her.
Maria turned and waved her hand in front of the blank stare of a woman seated at the end of one of the rows of chairs in the waiting room. As the woman slowly turned to look at her, Maria could hear the low hum of cogs and motors rotating inside the woman’s head.
Terrified and screaming at the top of her lungs, Maria shot out of bed, taking a moment to realize that it was all just a dream. Her anxiety of going to the DMV tomorrow was really getting to her.
The next morning, Maria made it to the DMV despite still being a little shaken from her nightmare. When her number was finally called, she gathered her things and approached the teller window with the necessary documents. As she handed over the documents, Maria took a good look at the strangely familiar-looking teller.
The teller smiled and began to sort through Maria’s documents. A moment later, Maria heard the teller say, “I’m sorry, Maria. Soto is your married name? Because the name on your Social Security card and the name on your birth certificate don’t match, we’ll need to see your marriage license to be able to issue an ID.”
Maria’s heart skipped a beat. “This can’t be happening,” she thought.
Then the teller continued, “Fortunately, we work closely with an organization that can help you. It’s called IDignity.”
Written by Ben Jimenez