Appointment by Any Other Name

Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Department closed its offices to walk-in traffic during the pandemic, extended 2020 license expiration dates by a year, and allowed most drivers to renew licenses online. Most drivers, that is, except those whose photos were over 10 years old, those in their 70s who needed vision tests, or those wanting to get the new federal travel ID. If you fell into one or all of those categories, you had to make an appointment and physically visit an MVD office. As of June 2021 the restrictions are still in effect, so we made appointments online.


We showed up yesterday at 8:45 for our 9 AM slots. Before Covid, when everything was on a walk-in basis, MVD lines often extended outside the door and into the parking lot. Not so these days. There was a small crowd in the foyer, maybe 20 people ahead of us waiting to be seen at a central screening desk. The screeners separated those with appointments from walk-ins, which are apparently allowed again. Appointments went to the right; walk-ins to the left. The photo is from the appointment side.

Right away, we started to overhear others in line grousing about how they had appointments and shouldn’t have to stand in line, so we decided there wasn’t any point in bitching about it ourselves. After a while, it became clear everyone in line had 9 AM appointments. MVD’s definition of “appointment” is not the one you’ll find in the dictionary; it’s more a way to manage lines and wait times … schedule 10 people for 9 AM appointments, another 10 for 9:15, another 10 for 9:30, and so on.

I admit to some confusion, though: at least one Tucson friend says her MVD appointment was the real thing. She was called to the head of the line and seen on time. That was definitely not happening when we visited the MVD yesterday.

In any case, though, it wasn’t bad … there were five to six stations open on the appointment side and the line moved quickly (I’m assuming things were worse on the walk-in side). We were in and out, with renewed licenses & federal travel IDs, in about 35 minutes.

Gotta say, the documentation requirements for the federal travel ID are confusing. People on either side of me didn’t bring the right stuff. Their passports were expired. They didn’t bring utility bills showing their names and addresses. They didn’t have anything showing their complete Social Security number (tell me what does these days, other than the original card you got as a teenager).

Donna and I brought everything we could lay our hands on and thought we were overkilling it; turns out we’d scraped together the bare minimum and barely qualified. Word to the wise: if you have it, bring it: birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, utility bills (I didn’t have one of those, but my truck’s vehicle registration form, which I thought to snatch out of the glovebox at the last minute, saved the day), voter registration card, naturalization papers, military discharge form, adoption papers … you never know what they’re going to ask for, and it won’t necessarily be on the list of required documents you studied at home beforehand.

Another surprise: a sign just inside the MVD door saying masks aren’t required for vaccinated people. As you can see, about half the people in line weren’t wearing them. I figure half of them weren’t vaccinated and were just taking advantage. All the MVD employees kept theirs on. So did we.

At long last, we have a pet fence around the pool.


It’s plastic mesh with removable fiberglass poles sunk into the cool deck, and a gate. A permanent metal fence would look better, but we can’t afford it. This will work, and we have one less thing to worry about now with Mister B (and the companion dachshund I hope soon to adopt for him). Also one less thing to worry about when it comes time to downsize and sell the house.

I have to say, Mister B has been exceptionally mature and responsible of late. The pool fence installer brought his dog with him. Mister B very calmly visited with him outside, and although the garage and back gate were open, stayed on the patio. That night we hosted a homeowners’ association board meeting, and once again Mister B was Mister Chill. He introduced himself to each guest, no jumping up or begging, then curled up in a safe spot under the dining room table, clear of everyone’s feet, while we solved all the HOA’s problems. And here he is, sharing my instant Pad Thai lunch:

In case you can’t tell, we love Mister B.

© 2021, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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