Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The DMV, PMS, and me

Now you know with a title like this that it's not going to be pretty. It's also going to be graphic. You've been forewarned. ;-)

After procrastinating as long as possible, I finally had to break down and get new state-appropriate license plates. I mean, it's hard to take the moral high ground with the kids when they knew that I'd been driving on expired plates for a good month. "I might be flunking English but you're doing something illegal. Beat that!" Yeah, well... So in an effort to regain my moral superiority, once my replacement title arrived from my favorite charity aka the state of Michigan (after a mere 4 week wait instead of the suggested 6-8 week time frame for those cheap enough--me--not to pay for expedited handling), I needed to find time to get to the DMV. Actually, first I had to find time to get my car inspected and then to get my plates. And true to form, I put it off and put it off and put it off and, well you get the picture. There's just very little in this world as unappealing as going to the DMV.

I did finally go and have the inspection and my poor car just barely passed. Apparently bald tires are not a good thing (note to self: must replace those sometime soon). Ok, not bald but within one 30 second (or however they measure it--the aforementioned is what I heard whether it is correct or not) of failing. Now I don't mind being told I need new tires, although the cost makes me shudder, but to potentially fail the inspection because of my tires? Have they not noticed some of the clunkers on the road that belch smoke directly into my lungs as I sit at a light behind them? And they're going to mutter distractedly about my tires? Really?! But the rest of the car is apparently fine and dandy (they must not count the condition of the interior then--or I did a better than usual job of ditching the petrified french fries and other assorted detritus before I took it in) so it was time to head to Hell's waiting room.

Since I continued to figure that the police officers down here wouldn't immediately cop to expired out of state plates with just one glance (heehee, couldn't resist the pun), I avoided the DMV for a few more days but I did eventually go. And because everyone should be as cheery as possible when going to the DMV, I went when I was deep in the throes of PMS.

I was smart enough to take a book with me. But I was dumb enough not to realize I'd inadvertantly cut up my debit card since the replacement credit card (and why they replaced it continues to escape me incidentally) was the same color as the debit card and a completely different color from the card it was replacing. Yes, this meant that getting cash out to pay the exorbitant fees for my plates was impossible. Luckily I showed a streak of brilliance by also bringing the check book (complete with out of state checks, mind you).

Anyway, I walked into the DMV at roughly 10am to find myself about 6th in line. Not too bad, you think, correct? Oh but it was worse than imagined. As I looked around, I noted a mere two lines out of 8 open. Even better, framed in a nice plexiglas holder was a lovely sign (not hand-printed) asking for patience since many employees were out due to illness. I later saw another of these same signs behind the desk so they clearly toss one up on the counter as needed. Given the permanent aspect of their display, they are needed and/or used frequently. As is the case with most state DMV's I've ever been in, this one moved at a rate easily exceeded by glacial creep. And yes, in making the comparison, I am aware that glaciers are currently receding, not creeping forward.

By 11am, the line had moved foward not one iota. The short line of people turning in old plates was ticking along beautifully though, leading to much grumbling in my line (not from me though, of course ::snort, choke::). This was promising to get uglier when one of the two clerks helping my line finished up and promptly tossed another plexiglas sign on the counter at her spot: "Closed for lunch." The woman three people up from me made a sound like air being let out of a balloon and loudly asked one of my favorite rhetorical questions appropriate for these situations, "Are you shittin' me?" I probably would have used the word "kidding" but she'd been there a lot longer than I had. Oh, alright, I would have cussed too had I still had the will to speak. And as for Ms. Closed for Lunch, do note that it was not even 11:20 when she hoisted her sign to the counter and the place hadn't opened before 9am. Nice work if you can get it, eh? Oh, and while people were muttering about lunch breaks and the like, the only other person dealing with the long line up and left her post too. Turns out she just needed a bathroom break--and don't think we didn't all grudge her every moment on the toilet either (although we were okay with any time taken to wash her hands). At least she eventually reappeared, unlike Ms. Closed for Lunch.

Eventually a be-suited supervisor walking through the room noticed the natives were getting restless and sent another succubus out to suck the souls right out of all of us. But at least the line moved up one person. And eventually it was my turn. I forked over the small tree's worth of paper I had brought with me and was presented with a bill for $223. Holy smokes! Who knew license plates were so expensive! But of course, it wasn't just the license plates. It was a new title (and anyone who can not only explain to me *why* I must re-title my car in each new state we live in but can get me to agree with said logic is a certifiable genius), the notary public fee (not that I have any idea what they were notarizing, mind you), the taxes (again, can anyone explain how it is that I have to pay taxes on something I already own outright? Even better, down here we get to pay these taxes yearly--scam anyone?), and other assorted nickel and dime fees. Yes, it cost me over $200 for license plates for a banged up 2002 minivan. I can only imagine the fees for a nice, new car.

They did conveniently have an ATM in the building (I imagine that the fee on *that* ATM was obnoxious) but since I don't have a debit card, I crossed my fingers and asked about out of state checks. Amazingly, they were willing to take one provided I hand over every item in my wallet for ID (and I don't think I want to know what they plan to use my frequent buyer card at Salad Creations for) and promise to sign over my children as surety (and they don't know my kids or they wouldn't have asked), which I cheerfully did if only in an effort to get out of there sometime in this century.

Plates in hand I started out of the place wondering about the strange looks I was receiving from the folks still in line. I almost reassured them that I hadn't aged too much while waiting when I realized they were all checking out my butt. This is not usual ever but given that *everyone* was looking at me and glancing studiously away, I stopped dead and recognized that the problem was a bit sticky, literally. Yup, I'd stood in line long enough to not only pass through PMS but to actually start my period, completely changing the color of the seat of my pants. I can only say I hadn't noticed before because of the stupor they lull you into there.

I hastily waddled out to my car, tossed my new plates on the seat, and squealed out of the parking lot towards home. Would have capped the day off nicely to be picked up for speeding while driving with expired plates still on the car and the new plates rattling around on the passenger seat but I figured any police officer worth his or her salt would hear my DMV story, get treated to a look at my rear, and escort me home at top speed without giving me a ticket. I mean, there's only so much one person can take per day and I'd long since exceeded it. Thankfully I didn't get pulled over and have to humiliate myself any further. I got home, hosed myself down, did the laundry, and put the plates on my car. Now I'm an official southerner but I can never, ever, ever go to that DMV again, not that I'd want to.

1 comment:

  1. OMG what a story!! I hate the DMV, but I've never had an experience that bad!


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