Part 4: Fake ID Manufacturer?
I’m about to admit to a felony. Or maybe it’s just a misdemeanor. But I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out at this point. And the statute of anyone actually giving a shit surely has. Anyway, one thing you may not know about me yet is how industrious I am. What a clever little salesperson I was as a kid and as a rebellious, grungie stoner.
You know the cliche about kids and lemonade stands? How every kid’s daydream is to open a lemonade stand and make $100 in a day? How they dream of car after car waiting in line for a sip of their famous, homemade lemonade? Well, I lived that dream like millions of other suburban kids (not the $100 part; it was like $5). But I took that dream seriously and couldn’t move on after the lemonade stand was torn down and put away.
When I got a bit older, selling Girl Scout cookies helped scratch the itch to sell. And let me tell you, I was a dedicated cookie seller. So dedicated in fact, that my mom became “cookie mother” for our troop one year. Mom had no idea what she was in for until a semi-truck pulled into our condo track and backed up into the driveway of our two-car garage with a warehouse-sized cookie delivery. Mom nearly dropped her coffee on a cactus when she saw the volume of cookies the semi-truck drivers unloaded. She and I sorted Thin Mints and Do-si-dos for weeks.
The selling gears in my head started cranking in sixth grade when a homemade corn syrup and sugar concoction called “hockey pucks” became all the rage at my elementary school. Kids would bring the hard candies in different flavors and colors that were about the size of (you guessed it) a hockey puck, and eat them in class, at lunch, and in the halls.
Some of the kids watched all this hockey-puck-eating activity mystified, jealous and sad. They had no idea how to get these sweet candies in their lives. But instead of sharing in their envy and naïveté, I grabbed a kid with one and asked how he made his. He willingly gave me a very simple recipe: Kool-Aid, corn syrup and sugar heated in a pan and then set in muffin tins (this gave the hockey puck its shape.)
I immediately went home and announced to my dad that I was going to start selling hockey pucks for $2 a piece at school, but needed him to buy me supplies. My dad’s never been a guy to pass up a good money-making scheme, and being a salesman himself, was very proud of his little daughter. We drove to the local Smitty’s grocery store and bought a jug of corn syrup, a bunch of Kool-Aid flavors and sugar. I commenced my hockey puck making that evening, to my mom’s irritation (she’s got some weird feelings about people in her kitchen) and took a variety wrapped in cellophane to school the next day.
I’m proud to say my hockey pucks were a huge hit. I was the only one selling lemon and had a ton of grape (the most popular flavor). I became something of a hockey puck legend for a couple of weeks until I got tired of making them (and burning my fingers trying to extract them from the muffin tins too early.) My mom complaining about her pans always being dirty got old, too. Dad was pretty sad when hockey puck season ended. Not because he was seeing any profits, but because he loved to watch me in action as a little entrepreneur.
Fast forward a few years to high school, where lots of stuff was for sale: yearbooks, t-shirts, homemade hair bows for the softball team, embroidered socks for the cheer leading squad, and of course drugs (off campus). But one thing there was a huge demand for with no supply, was fake IDs.
Back then, most of us wanted a fake in order to buy beer from the Circle K in town. Rumors floating around said the old guy that worked there on the weekends didn’t even care if the ID looked like you, as long as it said you were 21. But finding any bona fide 21-year-old who was willing to part with their ID was nearly impossible. A girl I knew actually stole her older sister’s once and used it for a few weeks, until she was caught and reported to her parents. That wasn’t pretty.
I found out through the rumor mill that a kid named TJ had a fake ID, and so instead of sitting mystified, jealous and sad like the other kids, I asked him where he got it. He was a friend of an ex-boyfriend of mine, so he trusted me with his trade secret one day after school.
“I made it,” TJ said as he pulled the ID out of his wallet.
I looked it over and sure enough it was his genuine ID but somehow the 75 at the end of his birth year had been adjusted to a 65.
“10 years older?” I asked him incredulously.
“Man, it works at Circle K,” TJ told me. “That old guy doesn’t even care.”
“How’d you do it?” I blurted out. There wasn’t any finessing this situation in my mind, I wanted to know. I needed an ID.
He looked around the park to make sure no adults were in shouting distance. “You can’t tell anyone,” he whispered as he grabbed his ID out of my hands and put it back in his Velcro wallet.
“Dude, I promise I won’t,” I told him sincerely. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
He looked me in the eye for a moment to ensure I was telling the truth. Who knows how he could tell I was honest, but he decided to divulge his method.
“Come with me to the library,” he said.
“The public library?” I asked with my nose and eyes scrunched up.
“Yeah,” he said. “If you want to know how I did it.”
“OK, fine,” I told him. I hadn’t been to the public library since elementary school, but I was more than willing to pay the old brick building a visit.
We set out walking from the park to the library about a mile away. When we got there, he made a bee-line for the photocopy machine.
“Keep a lookout,” he said as he fished his ID from his wallet again.
“What am I looking for?” I asked.
“The librarian, dipshit,” he told me as he laid his ID on the glass of the photocopy machine.
“How am I supposed to know?” I asked a bit too loud.
“Sshhhhhhhh,” he said as he lowered the lid and hit the copy button.
Seconds later two copies of his driver’s license floated out of the machine. He grabbed them, stuffed them gently into his sweatshirt and said “follow me.”
“Where are we going now?” I asked as I followed him out of the library.
“To my house,” he replied.
I followed suspiciously. But when we got to his house, everything was on the up and up. His parents weren’t home from work yet and one of his little brothers was playing Super Mario Brothers on a big TV in the living room. TJ began explaining his process in the kitchen.
“Do you have packing tape at home?” He asked me as he pulled some from a kitchen drawer.
“I don’t know,” I told him. “My parents might.”
“You’ll need some,” he said as he laid out the photocopies of his ID on the counter. He proceeded to cut one of them out, right along the border of the ID until he got to his photo. He carefully cut around the photo to leave it behind. He pushed the other photocopy of his ID to the side in case he messed up the first one.
“This is a China pen,” he said as he held up what looked like an old fountain pen. “Make sure you’ve got one with black ink.”
He took the paper ID and carefully wrote on top of his birth date, transforming the “7” in “75” to a “6” to create “65.” He then cut a piece of packing tape that was roughly twice as long as the ID was wide. He placed the packing tape neatly over the top of the photocopy of his ID and smoothed out any wrinkles between the tape and the paper ID. Then, he filled the kitchen sink with water.
“This part can be tricky,” he warned as I watched him with increasing curiosity.
“Make sure the tape is stuck really good to the paper before you put it in the water,” he told me.
“In the water?” I asked with a chuckle.
“Yeah,” he said, annoyed at my attitude. “In the water.”
He submerged the tape and paper combination into the sink full of water and held it there. I watched intently, waiting for some sort of magic to happen. Would an ID magically float out of the water before my eyes?
After a minute or two, the paper started to shred at the edges of the ID. He shook the tape and paper combo a bit under the water, and more paper floated away from the tape and into the surrounding metal kitchen sink. After a few more minutes, he shook the tape enough that all of the paper had separated from it. What was left was the ink from the paper, seemingly printed onto the adhesive side of the tape.
“Woah,” I said softly as TJ pulled the tape out of the sink and drained it.
His ID was now perfectly re-created on the piece of packing tape, minus his picture. He placed the tape on a dish towel and gently blotted it dry.
“What are you gonna do with that?” I asked, now fully engrossed in his process.
“What you do at this point, is dry the tape really well,” he told me. “Then, you line up all the letters and numbers with your real ID and put the tape over the top of the ID. I’m not gonna do it on mine cause mine’s already done.”
He laid his ID on the counter and held the tape right above it, showing me how all of his identification info matched up.
“When you put the tape on top of the ID, the ink is going to look really dark cause you’re doubling up,” he said. “But Circle K guy doesn’t care. Just come up with a number that can easily fit over the top of your real birth year.”
“OK,” I mumbled, as I looked on in awe.
“What’s your birth year?” He asked.
“76,” I told him.
“I’d just do 66, like I did 65,” he said.
I looked at him with my left eye cocked. “Ten years older?” I asked.
He sighed and started putting the packing tape away.
“Circle K guy, remember?” He said.
“Yeah, true,” I admitted. “Damn, thanks, man,” I said, enthused. “This is cool!”
“I know,” he said. “Just don’t tell anyone I told you and if you get pulled over, just pull the tape off the ID and toss it. Then you won’t get popped for altering your ID.”
I thought about that simple solution and how much better it was than getting caught with someone else’s ID, like my girlfriend at school did.
“That’s smart, man,” I told him. “Thanks.”
I left his house that afternoon and set out for my parent’s house about a mile away. I went over the list of supplies I’d have to search the house for: packing tape, a China pen and some scissors. My mind start reeling with the possibilities.
“What if it’s so good, I can take it to a bar?” I asked myself as I walked down the sidewalk near my house.
I’d been to a bar once when I was a freshman. The bar district by the local college had been lax for a few years and word got around at the high school that you could get served alcohol with no ID at all.
Going to a college bar as a 15-year-old who never drank before was a surreal, fun experience. I drank watered down Bud Light and played pool with kids from my high school for a couple of hours until we hit curfew and had to trek home. Repeating that experience with a fake ID would be a lot of fun, but of course my friends would need IDs too.
“Wait,” I stopped for a second on the warm Fall day. “What if I made IDs for everyone?”
“Oh shit,” I said to myself as I picked up speed and started running towards home. “I’ve got some work to do.”