The Saga of the License Plate

As most of you know, after 20+ years in NC, I’ve recently relocated to Georgia, about an hour outside of Atlanta. More updates on that later. Right now, I want to share with you the saga of the license plate. It’s a story that more or less sums up my life. What takes other people twenty minutes, takes me 9 weeks, 8 phone calls, 4 DMV visits and a two-week plan to evade the law. 

It all started the week I moved to Georgia. I was checking things off my list right and left (pictures hung in new home -  check. Food in fridge – check. Wall art for half-bathcheck, check, check) and in an effort to be pro-active, toddled off to the DMV to get my GA driver’s license. I showed up prepared for anything – NC driver’s license, passport, pay stub, and invoices from gas, electric and trash removal verifying my new address. I approached the teller window. 

Teller: “Social security card.” 

Me: “I don’t have that, but here’s my passport.” 

Teller: “I can’t issue you a license without a social security card.” 

Me: “But… passport. See? I have a tan.”

Teller: “Next.” 

People, I have not seen my SS card in years. And having just packed and unpacked every item of my belonging in my move, I know I never came across it. Nevertheless, I drove home and began to systematically rip the house apart. After having emptied my wallet no less than five times in three hours (convinced I’d missed a secret compartment holding my card), I gave up and did what any normal person would do. I shifted the blame to others. 

First up was the ex. I texted B. and asked if he’d seen my SS card or still had it. 

“I sent that to you years ago along with your birth certificate in that big white envelope,” he texted back. “Remember?” 

I did remember, but was annoyed, as now it was clear I’d misplaced not only my SS card, but also my birth certificate. Next on the chopping block was my mom. 

“I’m sure I gave these to you to hold,” I said, sure of no such thing. “Remember? You said since I no longer had a safety deposit box, you could hold on to them for me. This is your fault.” 

“Nice try, Dena,” said Mom. “Keep looking.” 

Damn it. I tore the house up for another week before admitting defeat. My card—and birth certificate—were gone.

North Carolina

I hopped online and was pleased to see I could order a new card there. Until, that is, I noted that I had a NC drivers license, which the SS site kindly informed me was not accepted online and I’d have to go to a SS office to request a new card. 


There is no SS office close to me but, as I was in NC this past weekend, I planned time to swing by an office. And so, after driving five hours from Atlanta to Greensboro, I went immediately to the nastiest, swelteringly hot SS office where I was surrounded by some of the more vivid characters of society, and sat for almost two hours before my name was called. 

“Hi” I said, approaching the teller and pulling out my already-completed paperwork like the kiss-ass I am. “I seem to have lost my social security card.” 

His reply heartened me and made the wait worthwhile. “Well, you just sit down and we’ll have you taken care of in jiff,” he said.

I exhaled. “Thank you! I just moved to Georgia and I can’t get a driver’s license without a SS card.”

The teller frowned. “Wait—you live in Georgia? Then I can’t help you. We can’t mail cards across state lines.” 

I literally felt the earth shift below me. Two hours of waiting for this? Come on. 

“I can come back and pick it up,” I offered. “Or give you my mom’s mailing address?”

He shook his head. “That’s how fraud happens. We have to mail it to your home address.” He handed back my paperwork. “Go to a Georgia office. They’ll have a new card for you in 3-5 days.”


Arriving back home in Georgia, I found a notice from the NC DMV that since my NC liability policy was cancelled when I moved, my plates expire Feb. 3 and I need to mail them back in. Of course.

I call the NC DMV and explain the situation: no SS card = no GA driver’s license = I can’t get GA plates. Please help. 

Shockingly, the DMV was no help whatsoever. (Who knew?) I was informed I’d already incurred a $50 charge and they would revoke my plates on Feb. 4 if not returned. Awesome. 

I haul ass the next day to a GA social security office and let me say this—I freaking love Georgia. I walked into the office at 2:58 pm and was back in my car by 3:14 pm, having ordered a new card. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the card won’t arrive for two weeks. At which time I still have to get my license before I apply for plates. 

“Can I pay some sort of fee to expedite the process?” I asked the SS teller.

She shook her head. “It’s a federal agency.”

Okay. Time for damage control. I call the GA DMV and explain the situation. Plates being revoked Feb. 4. New SS card not coming in until end of January. Can I get temporary tags or…?

“There’s nothing I can do,” said the woman on the phone. “We can’t issue you temp tags.” 

“Just to be clear,” I said, “You’re telling me my only option is to drive around with revoked plates and hope I don’t get pulled?”

“That’s correct.” 

“Uh-huh,” I said. “Okay. Is there some way you can document this conversation to show, if I do get pulled, that I at least tried to legally resolve this situation?”

“No ma’am.” 

“Right. So, what happens if I do get pulled over?” 

“I’m not familiar with the fines, ma’am. You would have to explain your situation to the officer.” 

And now we wait

And that’s where I’ve landed. My hope is the timing juuuust works out so my card comes in late January and I get my driver’s license and plates just before the Feb. 3 deadline. But giving how this process has gone thus far, I’m not holding my breath. 

And until then, I will be driving under cover of night, very, very slowly…