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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tag, We're It!

When we moved to our current apartment, we tried to be as efficient as possible with things like changing our address. Naturally, we forgot to do an address change through the Department of Motor Vehicles. We knew we were at the really tail-end of our grace period and had to get tags for our car. And thus began the journey.

First, we had to stop at a branch of our bank and take some cash out via the ATM. I thought taking what I recalled to be last year's amount and adding twenty dollars to it would be sufficient. Of course I could have written a check, but we never write checks, and have never ordered them with our current address. We need to get a shredder so we can destroy the checks from two addresses ago. So we went to the DMV, cash and registration in hand. The staffer who ended up helping us changed our address on the system, smirked slightly, and told us we couldn't get our tags until we had an emissions test. She seemed to relish an opportunity to put a monkey wrench in someone's day. "You'll have to get the emissions test and come back tomorrow; it is the last day you can renew. And it's going to be really busy all day." 

A lady in line told us she had just been to have her emissions test and it only took about five minutes. "You can get it done and be back here in plenty of time," she said. So off we went to the emissions testing center. The car was within bounds for emissions, but failed the test because the seal on the gas cap was not tight enough. We paid our twenty-five dollars and headed to an auto parts store. And spent twenty-nine dollars and change for a locking gas cap, which is still cheaper than getting your gas siphoned. 

New gas cap installed, we returned to the testing station. Of course there were about five times as many cars there the second time around. We weren't too worried about it, though. How long could it take to test a gas cap? Hah! They do the whole test all over again, free this time. What did they think we did after we left? Fill our gas tank with a hidden supply of old-timey leaded gasoline? Install all sorts of gidgey-gadgets in the engine? Switch catalytic converters with someone? The possibilities were apparently endless, and all diabolical. 

Finally the moment arrived. We were given the magical slip of paper, that carte blanche that says that our car is worthy of license renewal. And so we went to the ATM again, since we had given up cash for the emissions test, and then headed back to the DMV. By then it was four o'clock and I thought I would be having an enforced rest period whilst the throngs passed through to get their plates and tags and titles. Within about five minutes, our little car was sporting her tag with the number 13 on it (my favorite number!) and our task was done. Although we had to make several stops and spend more money than originally planned, it wasn't really a horrible experience. Everyone we encountered was courteous and helpful, and the task is done until next year. But it sure was an interesting game of tag!