Who am I, really? Identity has been on my mind quite a bit during this pandemic. With millions dying I suppose it’s important that “the officials” know who we are. At the same time I don’t feel comfortable taking my mask off in front of strangers. It’s kind of like a facial striptease that puts you at risk for some communicable disease. Because I had to fly for Thanksgiving this year I got to put my Real ID to the test. I removed my mask for the photo—at the DMV, of all places—so there was risk involved to prove that I am who I’ve always been. When I went to get a Pennsylvania license three years ago, the system remembered me from when I got my permit and asked if I still lived in the county where that had occurred. They seem to know a lot about me.
At the airport the TSA guy told me to take off my mask. He had to confirm that I was the same person my Real ID stated I was. I wish our government would tell me who I am. And of course my passport decided to expire also during this pandemic. I went to a local pharmacy to get my passport photo taken. (I know you can do this at home, but you need a printer that handles photo paper.) Then you can send the application in by mail. How do they know it’s really me in the photo? I had an uncanny experience many years ago when a visiting team from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) visited Nashotah House for an accreditation visit. One of the inspectors looked very like me. I think we both noticed the resemblance immediately. It was like we were twins. Later I found his photo on the school website and asked my pre-literate daughter who it was. She said “Daddy.”
So I’m standing here with my mask off in a store for confirmation that I am who I claim to be. I wonder if this other guy’s photo were sent in would they know the difference? In fact I’ve had the experience I suspect many people have had of being mistaken for someone else. Helping a friend move to Kentucky after college, I had several people in a small town I’d never visited before identify me as Joe’s son. I looked just like him. Of course, that was way before the pandemic when our faces were public property. Now I just wish I could put my mask back on so that I could feel a little less naked.