I lost my first wallet in 1998. To replace the driver’s license I needed to book an appointment, pose for the replacement photograph and then tram back in to collect it two weeks later.

When I lost the next one in 2001, the delay had lengthened to three weeks.

When I lost the next in 2003, it’d shrunk back to one week.

By the time I lost the next one in 2006, you could walk in, sit for the replacement photograph and walk out with a new, hologrammed license.

When I lost the next wallet in 2008, the licensing center had returned to making you wait for it. But instead of making you travel back in, now they could mail it out to you. When I phoned the cops to report the wallet lost, I happened to mention that the licensing center had offered to mail me the new driver’s license. The cop seemed shocked.

“They’ll mail you your driver’s license?” he said.

“Yeah,” I confirmed, “they said they could mail it to me.”

“They go around mailing out driver’s licenses?” he said, still aghast.

“The license lady said I’d just get it in the letterbox,” I said.

“Mongrels!” he said, “How bloody irresponsible!”

The script seemed to call for an explanation so I said,

“Maybe they’ve found that nobody steals them.”

“Out of letterboxes?” he said, “what kind of mongrel mails out a driver’s license?”

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