Let's be honest, COVID-19 has disrupted and inconvenienced our lives in many different ways. Yet somehow a worldwide pandemic turned somewhere I considered absolute hell on earth into a customer service paradise.

About a year ago, I had a TERRIBLE experience trying to get a driver license with my married name on it so that I could feel confident booking my airfare for a trip coming up the next month. There were no appointments available for the foreseeable future, so I rolled the dice and went on one of my vacation days.

Little did I know that sometime between when I last updated my license in 2014 and that day, the Ada County DMV added a gate keeper that pre-screens you before you're even allowed to take a ticket to wait some more. I waited in that line for a good 90 minutes only to get turned away because it appears that the courthouse, Social Security Administration and DMV just don't communicate with each other about how soon after visiting SSA you can handle your name change at the DMV. (Brides-to-be, apparently it's 24 hours. Don't waste your time trying to kill two birds with one stone in a single day.)  I wasn't the only one to storm out of there fuming that day.

I dreaded going back for my Star Card, but felt better about it because I was able to book an appointment back in January. At the time, the earliest appointment available was in April so I took it...only to have it canceled due to the statewide stay home order. Star Cards weren't one of the license or ID card services offered online during the pandemic and that's mostly because of the documents you have to produce to get one.

The Ada County Sheriff's department gave me a buzz to let me know they had to cancel my appointment and tell me that they'd opened more dates later into the summer. When I went to book again in May, the earliest date available was in July.

Well, I finally had my appointment on Friday and it was an absolute breeze! They tell you to show up 10 minutes before your appointment. When you get there, you get in the socially distanced line outside where someone confirms your appointment. They then instruct you to go inside to see the clerk at the kiosk. That's where you scan your QR code or enter your booking number. It prints out your ticket. You go stand on your dot or one of the chairs available until your number is called.

I waited less than two minutes before it was my turn to hand the desk clerk my current ID, birth certificate, marriage certificate, social security card, utility bill and a pay stub. Within five minutes, she checked over the documents, added another eight years onto my license, took my picture, printed my temporary Star Card and accepted my payment. Since I'd showed up early, I was back in my car one minute after my scheduled to begin.

I truly believe that if you're planning to get one to use for travel instead of a passport, NOW is the time to do it! Yes, they moved the date you'll need one to board flights or access federal buildings back to October 1, 2021 but as of the end of June only 27% of Idaho drivers have the Star Card. You don't want to be part of the last minute rush!

If you're trying to get yours in Ada County, there's a TON of appointments available as early as August 12. Take advantage of those and use this handy tool to make sure you're bringing the correct documents with you!

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