“DON’T SMILE” (sign spotted at a Manassas, VA DMV):
As part of the DMV’s effort to develop super-secure driver’s licenses and foolproof identification cards, the agency has issued a smile ban, directing customers to adopt a “neutral expression” in their portraits, thereby extinguishing whatever happiness comes with finally hearing one’s number called.
“It’s weird that you’re not allowed to smile,” said Christopher George, a 22-year-old from Manassas who had also been scolded when he tried to put forward a good face for his portrait. He worried that that the dour expression he had to adopt would put him at a disadvantage.
“I mean, when you get pulled over, you want a friendly picture for the cop to look at,” he reasoned. On the loudspeaker overhead, a robotic voice summoned customers to the attendant windows by number, guided by some mysterious algorithm.
“It makes everyone look like criminals,” said Arthur Freeman, 18, who needed no prompting to appear unhappy after waiting two hours for a motorcycle license. “I don’t usually smile for these pictures anyway.”
Actually, we think Robert got it right:
Nearby, 19-year-old Robert Nuckols, also of Manassas, returned to the waiting area after posing for his learner’s permit photo. “We’re at the DMV,” he said. “Why would we smile?”