Hi, my name is [King] Kagle, and I don’t exist. No, I’m not crazy or lying or having nihilistic, existential delusions of being the NPC of my own life (despite the title).
I guess what I should say is that I don’t “technically” exist — at least not to any State or Federal government.
There’s a tiny little thing sitting in your wallet right now that you probably take for granted, not even realizing its full, life-changing importance: a photo ID. I’ve never had one, and it seems like the universe has aligned itself to make sure it damn well stays that way.
And let me tell you, living without that little piece of plastic is a bitch. For instance, did you know that ...
Here’s what life without ID is like:
I met this girl online, and she came to see me one night. While we were driving around Pittsburgh, we wound up in an old neighborhood of mine. There were a lot of bad memories for me there, but some good ones too — one of my fondest was taking nightly walks from my house, past a McDonald’s, around Rite-Aid, and stopping at Sunoco for an AriZona green tea or Doritos (both if I had 2 bucks) before walking back. We had to get gas, so I told this girl (my current girlfriend and mother of my child) to meet me at McDonald’s as I was feeling nostalgic.
As I walked up the hill to round Rite-Aid, I saw a marked car. I didn’t think anything of it — I hadn’t committed any crimes — and as I passed, I said “Evening, officer.” He made me stop, tell him my name, and asked why I had just decided to get out of a perfectly good car and walk around (his words were that my story was “so ridiculously stupid, it can’t be true”). I then had to stand and wait as no less than four more cops showed up (three SUVs and another squad car) and grilled me about what I was doing and why I wouldn’t be honest about it.
I had apparently matched the description of a car vandal (the oh-so specific “male in a hoodie”), and without ID on me, I just HAD to be the guy. I pleaded with them and told them how I had gone to school there and the only picture of me with a name was in the yearbook. They replied that they had a yearbook and brought me to the station. Once there, an older cop said, “book him as a John Doe” ... and that’s how I learned that you can be arrested for simply not having an ID.
“So why don’t you just go get an ID?” you’re probably asking, and that’s a good question. To answer it, I need to rewind a bit (well, all the way, actually) ...
When I was born (26 years ago), my mother, in a fit of rage, put her maiden name on my birth certificate despite being married to my dad. No biggie, I’d grow up and never know the name Kagle (I assume she assumed).
By October (four months later) she was like, “fuck parenting” and drove from Atlanta to Pittsburgh to get rid of me. She left me with no birth certificate (though she did leave a “declaration of birth” — I’ll get to that soon), no SSN card, a hernia from over crying, and “preemie” clothes too small for me (they belonged to her first child, the one she wanted).
Anyway, she dropped me like my skin was made of bees and I never saw her again until she signed divorce papers (though I was too young to know who she was or remember what she looked like), and that was it. I spoke to her before my daughter was born, she told me, “I did all I can to help you”- which is also as much help as she gave.
My dad went to the Social Security office to get me a card and asked the guy at the counter how to fix my name.
The guy replied, “What name do you want on it?” because apparently Social Security workers in the ‘90s lacked any givable fucks about Birth Certificates and SSN cards matching up and all that jazz.
I, being two, had no idea my stepmother wasn’t even my real mother, and my father, being reassured by Mr. Izzit FiveYet?, gave him the name [King] Kagle — you know, my name — and thought everything was kosher. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.
But there was no time to really worry because...
I really didn’t think about it for several years after that, because how many kids really think about their social security card at all, let alone whether it’s accurate or not?
In the interim, America survived though some terrorist attacks. You may have heard of the Twin Towers? Yeah don’t worry, it’s important later.
I survived through a divorce, ANOTHER mom that didn’t want her second kid (my disabled brother), a father struggling to get help with said brother from the state while working multiple jobs to avoid being trapped in welfare, constant moving, late payments, and job changes due to a lack of services for my brother, and dropping out a year before I graduated high school to help take care of my brother so my dad could hold a job(s) and we could experience a fleeting glimpse of stability. Needless to say, me getting an ID wasn’t the biggest concern. (Dinner trumps plastic card in Rock, Paper, Poverty in case you weren’t aware.)
But then, in 2008, my dad started beating himself up over the hand life had dealt us and wanted me to be a “real” man. So we went to the DMV to obtain an ID and/or Driver’s License. That’s when I discovered that ...
Long story short: I couldn’t get an ID. Long story in list form:
·I was born with a different last name.
·That “declaration of birth” my mom had left me with all those years back? Turns out that’s just a pointless piece of paper (no “raised seal” meant it wasn’t a valid “certificate”).
·I needed to have the names match or I’d get no ID (makes sense).
·Apparently, I was issued a SSN card at birth that I never knew about. And, of course, that was also under the wrong name.
So the DMV told me to try going to Social Security and getting my card reissued under my birth name. Fair enough, I naively thought. Only ...
Those terrorist attacks I mentioned a bit ago? The ones that happened while I was distracted by, you know, growing up and being dirt poor and all that? Yeah, turns out the U.S.A. got really, really strict about IDs and such after that.
I had first applied to attain a new card through the mail. Six weeks later, I received a letter stating that I needed to send a photocopy of my ID or stop in to their office. Since the first option wasn’t viable, I went to the SSN office.
The nice lady there ran my details through the computer and — lo and behold — told me that at birth, I was issued a card. She told me that I could have a card reissued under my birth name for a price — but only if I provided a valid photo ID. That was my first Catch-22: No ID until names match, no matching names until ID.
She suggested I try the courthouse. And that’s great, because ...
#1. The Courthouse Can Help You (for a Price)
Before arriving at the courthouse, I did some googling (which is actually an amazing feat when you can’t afford Internet and the Governor cuts funding to public libraries you don’t live close to) and discovered that Pennsylvania’s name change law states that (paraphrased-ish) “Anyone can attain a new identity so long as it’s used consistently, exclusively, and non-fraudulently.” Since I had JUST discovered another name I never knew about, that fit me perfectly (but I dare you to quote the law to the DMV, Social Security, courthouse, state rep, or state senate as a highschool dropout and be heard). Anyway, I get to the courthouse and learn that they can FIX ALL MY PROBLEMS ... for $300 + surcharges.
So that’s my second, and biggest, Catch-22: I can’t get an ID without $300+. I can’t get $300+ without a job. I can’t get a job without an ID.
I have attempted to meet with State Reps (got a meeting with one, didn’t help), attorneys (not even pro bono will see me), and even contacted some presidential candidates. No luck.
It’s as simple as fixing a birth certificate, but PA wants me to go through a full name change.
I thought about trying to start a GoFundMe or whatever, but I would never get anywhere doing that. (You need ID to use PayPal, cash checks, EVERYTHING)
So why have I posted here? Because I just hope SOMEONE has an idea that I haven’t tried. You have no clue how bad this situation sucks. Especially when you try and try, thinking you’re ALLLLMOST there, until you wake up 8years later still a useless piece of shit and told it’s only because you’re “too lazy” by people who have no idea what it’s like.
**UPDATE:I think I may start a GoFundMe, because it SEEMS like it could be helpful. If anyone has any ideas/exp for that, or can help, let me know.**
***No, my “real” first name is not “King”***