Monday, November 24, 2008

Street Legal

I think I may have written before about my extreme dislike for the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles, and my disdain for anything even remotely bureaucratic. So, imagine the nausea that welled up inside of me when I noticed that the registration on our pickup truck had expired several months ago. I swallowed back the bile and proceeded to ignore the “March 08” sticker on the corner of the license plate, then casually mentioned it to Todd a few hours later.

“You mean to tell me that you were unemployed for seven months, and you didn’t bother to go to the DMV?” he asked me with a tone of disbelief. I can’t imagine why he’d speak with disbelief. He knows full well that I’d rather peel the skin of the tops of my feet with a pair of rusty pliers than go to the DMV. I mean, how could he possibly be surprised that I had approximately 140 business days to get that done and I didn’t try at least once?

I think I responded to his disbelieving question with something resembling a long “Ummmmm” as I tried to come up with a damn good reason as to why I didn’t go to the DMV. My reason, of course, came out as a garbled “Snurg, plip, kurkel, splat” as I fumbled to find my damn good reason. He rolled his eyes, shook his head and went back to cooking me dinner.

“So, now it’s going to be my problem, huh?” he asked, irritated.

“Well, it doesn’t have to be a problem, per se. Look at it as an opportunity to drive our truck legally. I mean, if you get it registered we can speed again without fear of eventual arrest and prison for life. And you are so much better at the DMV. You have that tractor beam of cooperation thing going on. They take one look at me, then check to make sure their paper shredder is plugged in. I am telling you, the DMV hates me!”

“So, you mean to tell me that you can’t register the truck because the DMV doesn’t like you?” Again with the disbelieving tone.

“Well, when you say it like that, it makes me sound crazy. But it’s true! The DMV hates me.”

“Um hmmm” he sighed as he dished out the dinner he’d made onto plates.

This morning I spent approximately an hour calling the DMV over and overto check, double check and then confirm what I needed to get the job done. See, the truck used to be owned by the dive shop. The dive shop was sold, we kept the truck. Unfortunately I couldn’t just keep registering the truck in the name of an entity that no longer exists. So I had to give the truck to myself, and pay the sales tax on it all over again. (Isn’t there some sort of law against double taxation? Wasn’t a shitload of tea dumped into Boston Harbor over that very issue? I digress.) On the third or even fourth time I spoke to the DMV this morning I listened to the operator’s probably obnoxiously long acrylic nails clicking on a keyboard on her end of the phone.

“OK,” she breathed out, “It looks like the fair market value of your truck is $13,600. So you need to pay 7% of that to register the truck.”

“What?” I asked, trying to tame the outrage that was building inside of me, “We spent $10,000 on that truck 3 years ago! How is it possible that the market value is $13,600? That’s more than I bought it for 3 years ago!” (Pretend Me was leaping out of my chair and pounding her fists on my desk “Yeah, whose definition of fair is that, anyway? Listen, you little cow, that’s just plain robbery.” Real me held up her hand and told Pretend Me to calm the hell down.)

I went to the DMV and sat for two hours. I had all the forms, and a near ream of paper that would serve as proof of this and proof of that, neatly filled in and stashed in my purse. I took my number from the machine and read on the ticket that my wait time would be 2 hours and 9 minutes. I ignored the wink from a Ricky Riccardo look-alike, and buried my nose in my book and tried to squash the guilty feeling of skipping out on work for 2 hours. Just under 2 hours, my number was called. I stood up and quickly straightened my shoulders before they called the next number to leave me waiting for 2 hours all over again. I put on my friendliest voice and set my near ream of paperwork on the desk.

I chewed the inside of my cheek as the woman behind the counter inspected each piece, as if she were looking for something to bust me on. I expected her to say something to the effect of “Oh, I see that the dot on this ‘i’ isn’t actually over the ‘i.’ Sorry. Next!” Because, well, that’s exactly how it would happen in my world. Todd would roll in with the TR-1 form printed on a cocktail napkin, and he would be granted more plates than cars we have, you know, in case we need them later. Then the woman behind the counter would then offer him a homemade brownie from scratch and call him “honey.” But I roll in there with everything impeccably filled out and get called out on something completely innocuous, and then be asked to provide a homemade brownie from scratch.

But today was different. I may have not been offered a homemade brownie from scratch, but I left the DMV with not only a finished book that needs to be returned to the library, but brand spankin’ new license places. Valid license plates, even.

And I am totally making Todd stand out in the cold to put those plates on the truck tonight.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, but the last line sounds like something I'd make Randy do now that I have a capable, helpful, wonderful guy around.

In the past week I have fought the DMV, the land title office, the county sheriff's office, a city police department, three major credit cards, a bank, and I'm working on my third trip to the passport office. Ah, gotta love name changes!

November 24, 2008 at 9:59 PM  

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