“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

designing a new name – after the court house

The big 4

  • Social Security
  • Birth Certificate
  • Drivers License
  • Passport

First I want to say, that it is VERY cool that for the most part you don’t really need any of these in order to do any thing else below. For almost everything you do, just having your court papers will be enough.

The difference with the “Big 4” is that these 4 require at least to see an original certified (embossed) copy of the court order, while everything else can just use a copy. Fortunately, they all return your court order to you. If I was to do this again, I wouldn’t have bought 5 copies, but I guess at $6 a piece it does save a lot of aggrevation. You really only seem to need 3 copies if you want to do everything at the same time as the Passport and Birth Cert. are done via mail. You’ll get back your originals, but not in a timely fashion.

I’ll do this in order of “ease”, since this is all about “design” after all.

While you do have to squint to follow the navigation on the Department of State web site. I was able to get here pretty quickly. This page tells you exactly which form you need (DS-82). What’s better, which is one reason this was the easiest to do, is that you can fill out the form ONLINE. After you fill it out online you download the total form in PDF format to be printed out and mailed to the Passport Agency with a $67 fee. The way to get out of this fee is if your passport is less than a year old.

Besides the fee and the form, you have to send your old passport, a certified copy of your court order. You will get both of those documents back, which for someone like me who loves opening their passport to see all the stamps they have on it, is very nice. Oh! you need to include 2 passport photos.

Birth Certificate
It’s kinda hard to say which ones were easier than the other at this point. I’ll give the Department of Health the nod because it was by mail. BUT it was difficult to find out what to do. I had always thought that the County Clerk held onto Birth Certificates, so even finding out that I had to contact the Dept. of Health was a bit off. I don’t even remember how I found out.

Once I did find out, It wasn’t even clear to me if I had to change my Birth Certificate at all. I mean why? I could get a new passport, new drivers license and a social security card all with out it.

So I found the Dept. of Health site on the Web pretty easily. There was no information about changing your name. They only had information about receiving a certified copy. So I found a place to send an e-mail, and did just that. Now usually, I HATE doing e-mails to bureaucracies because the odds of getting a real answer from this disconnected method seems very unlikely. But there was someone at the other end, and a very nice somebody at that.

I got a replied e-mail within 2 days. The reply didn’t answer all my questions, and I sent a reply of my own which was replied to within 24 hours itself. The main points of the answer is that you just write a cover letter with your request and place in it your certified copy of your court order. That’s it! Expect a new birth certificate in a few weeks.

Now the why part was a bit tougher to understand and to be honest I don’t really understand why still. But I think that it is just plain best to have all your big 4 documents in synch. It will probably just make my life go easier in the future. So I did it. Oh!!!! It seemed to be free and that was also a nicety.

I really liked this one for its simplicity. The major improvement I would say they could do is just put it all on their web site. Having a form to fill out has its advantages, and at least just having an area where the question is addressed for name change would be nice.

In lieu of that I really congratulate them for having a responsive e-mail protocol. Anything that prevents me from picking up the phone is a good thing.

Driver’s License
Well, everyone knows the DMV is really a fun place (yes, that was sarcasm). So why isn’t it in last place? Well, you’ll have to wait for the story for the Social Security Car, which is in last place (but by a hair). DMV was tough because it was very unclear what form to use. They have a ton of forms as you can imagine and I had to scroll through a long list of forms before I found the right one. Then I called up to make an appointment. After being on hold for a spell I was told that they don’t do appointments for what I wanted to do.

My DMV is 4 blocks from my apartment, so that was a convenience, but on a rainy morning I arrived at the building about a 1/2 hour before it was to open. The line was already 30 people long, standing outside in the rainy chill. There is a TON of room for a line indoors, as the DMV is part of a mall, but they still force us to wait outside. Thank goodness it was May!

They open up late. LATE! What the heck is that about? So as I’m walking in I ask one of the nice gentlemen which line should I go into, and he directs me. Then another person 10 min. later starts making announcements, saying that if you are doing what I’m doing (and other things) that you should go to the other line.

Well, even though by that point I was getting very close to the front of the first line the other line was not that long either. In about 5 more minutes I was at my first windo, had my picture taken, and my forms evaluated. I was given a number and had to wait for the 2nd window, which took about 10 minutes. The DMV has this very weird voice announced number system. Very sophisticated. It is very clear so long as you are listening. So while sitting on the hard wood benches, I could have my iPod going. There were visuals, but I would rather read than listen. Normally, I prefer to do both.

Got to the last window, paid $10, and was done. They gave me a temp (no picture) license. This is the first document I carried with my new name on it. “David Malouf” was alive. Of course, no I have no photo ID at all with my new or old name as the DMV and the Passport agency now both have my originals.

Social Security Card of David Howard Malouf Social Security (SS) Card
So why was the SS Card such a bad experience? Well, it really wasn’t, but they had one HUGE negative. They sent me to the wrong building. I’ll get into that soon. so this took 2 days instead of the 1 day that the DMV took, though the experience in both buildings and the web site of the SS Admin were a lot better than DMV. So basically, these are probably a tie.

The SSA site is easy to use. I got my form in a giffy, and found what I thought was the right listing for where I was supposed to go. I showed up a 1/2 hour early and to my surprise they were open and taking people. I was ushered in and told to take a number, which I did. I waited for 10 minutes. Got to the front window and was immediately told I had to go to a different building. One that was not al that walkable, and actually was closer to my home, so I figured I’ll just come back tomorrow. I loved that they started taking people right away, even though they weren’t oficially open.

The next day I went to the new building. I learned that this office was a trial center. The only one like it in the country. It was an entire office that handled new card requests. That’s why it isn’t on the web site. I would say to the first office though they should at least have had a sign on the door or the usher should simply ask people if they are doing anything “card” realated. It would have saved me a little bit of aggrevation that’s for sure.

So I got there this time 15min. early. It said it opened even earlier than the other office. I mean a gov’t office that opens at 7:30a? That is just so helpful by itself. I didn’t have to worry 1 iota that I was going to be late to work.

I entered the room, and there was an usher who asked me if I had my form and I said yes. He then directed me to a rope line that wasn’t even that long and only had 3 people ahead of me on it. There were very long banks of teller windows on both walls that only had about 4 people working in them. There was a looping message about the facility and what you would be needing if you were on this line. Felt odd and was a bit annoying. There was no number system, and no place to sit. So I hate to think what it would be like for some pensioner who needed a new card.

Another distraction on my mind was that there were people in teller windows who were just doing busy work. I’m sure that work is important, but I think in a teller setting it is inappropriate. People wait in line, and someone looks like they are there for YOU, but they are not. It might be best to have stations not on the window so these workers can do their important work, and “customers” are not miffed about having to wait so much.

But once at the window everything went quick. No charge and they told me I’d get a new card in 7-10 days, which I did. My first piece of mail with my new name on it.

What’s next?
In the next installment the real fun (NOT!) begins. Banks, and frequent flyer numbers, etc..

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