I am an idiot.
I am a Grade A+, certified, undeniable plonker.
The man in the hire car office looked at me with barely concealed contempt. Fair, really. He’d asked for my Driver’s Licence and I’d collapsed to my knees at the sudden realisation that the slim plastic card was 1,700 miles away from the Canary Islands.
“I am sorry sir, but there is really nothing I can do.”
My wife was hobbling around on crutches due to a sprained ankle and we were staying in a villa literally off the beaten track. A week of getting taxis everywhere would be expensive – assuming they could even find our lodgings!
Then, inspiration struck! I remembered that as part of the changes to the UK Driving Licence, the DVLA had created an online portal to allow you to share your licence information with hire car companies.
I ran to the only spot in the villa with WiFi, connected my phone, and hurriedly entered my information into https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence and was instantly rewarded with…
A blessed PDF containing all my information and a code with which to view the information online.
Would that be enough? My wife – who is far more intelligent, practical, and resourceful than I – suggested that I check directly with the hire car company’s head office.
Yet, another taxi back to the airport. The gruff gentleman had been replaced with an amiable woman who, on presentation of my credentials sadly sighed and said “Ah, no. It is impossible. Full licence only.”
I pleaded with her and showed the email from her HQ. She sighed again and dialled the phone. There was a period of intensely fast Spanish, some of it shouted. It culminated with “¿Si? ¿En serio? ¿Si? ¿Estás seguro? OK!”
She put down the phone, looked me in the eye, and said “The British are very strange. Everything on the Internet!” She duly took down my details, photocopied my phone, and handed me the keys to a turquoise Citroen.
So, a million thanks to the digital elves at DVLA. Their dedication to making the UK a leader in online infrastructure provided me with tangible help when I needed it most.