Column: Smile if you’re American

One of the annoying things about moving to a new state is exchanging your driver’s license.

It’s like I’m 16 again, standing in front of a plain background, smiling awkwardly for the Department of Motor Vehicles employee, hoping to achieve that perfect look of, “Yes, I most certainly am 21 years old or older, sir.”

Luckily, I moved from Indiana to Illinois and not Germany. Had I wanted to move to Germany in order to legally drive on the speed limit-less Autobahn, there would be no awkward smile. There would be no confident smile. There would be no smile at all.

That’s because German officials recently ordered their citizens to have the most neutral face possible when getting their passport pictures taken.

The reasons for this make sense. Neutral faces are easier for computers to recognize. Smiling faces can sometimes confuse computers. Remember that, in case computers ever take over the world. It could come in handy.

But I’m afraid this policy could reach American soil and take away the awkward smile seen on almost every license picture.

Our government is the entity that instituted the color panel of doom to warn us of just how imminent a terrorist attack is. It would make just as much sense to get rid of our smiles next.

Bad driver’s license photos are an American privilege. The corny smiles identify us as the pleasers we are. “Welcome to America! Would you like fries with that?”

So when I stand in front of the plain background this time, waiting for the picture that will follow me around in my wallet for the next few years, I’m going to give the biggest smile I can unleash without permanently distorting my face. It’s the American way.

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