I was one of the lucky ones that needed to renew their driver's license in the midst of a global pandemic. As if going to the DMV couldn't get any worse, right? Or at least that is what I thought.

I got the notice in the mail that my license needed renewal as of my next birthday, and I started gathering all the documents I needed to get the new Real ID. The deadline for getting one has been pushed back to October 2021, but I figured I would just get one now so it was done and over with. I had my passport, social security card, current unexpired ID, recent pay stub, and recent bank statement all lined up and ready to go.

With those documents in hand I went to the DMV at Midtown Square Mall since I had luck in the past of short lines, I figured 2 PM on a Tuesday would be a good time to go. Wrong. This was the Tuesday after the mask mandate went into effect in St. Cloud and that DMV switched to an "only testing" facility. They weren't doing license renewals and I now had no plan.

They did have signs posted saying that license renewal was by appointment only. I was supposed to go to the Stearns County website, fill out a renewal application, and make an appointment to go in person to renew. I did that, and got the next available appointment which was a week and a half out.

The online application is basically everything you would fill out for a license, except for uploading your own license photo. What a great (and flattering) day that will be.

Appointment day came, and the courthouse square building that houses the DMV was still closed to the public. I had to check-in with the security officer at the front door, and then again at the actual DMV counter, they crossed my name off a list.

But overall, it was the most pleasant DMV experience I had ever had. And that is what the guy in front of me said as well. There was no in-person waiting for them to call a number, the online application process streamlined the experience, and I knew exactly when I had to be at the DMV to get served. There was no blocking off an entire afternoon to get a license renewed. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.

If anything from this COVID-19 world sticks around, let it be this. This was surprisingly good in a year of bad.

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