Friday, July 31, 2009

LIFE: The DMV Was Met and Conquered

Over the years, I have had a hate-hate relationship with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

There was a time where my choices were to go to the provincial driver test centre at the corner of Steeles and Airport Road. T'was a zoo. So I drove 30-45 minutes north to Bolton where I could walk in and then out, ten minutes later. Better to sit in the car, burning gas, risking my life, than sit in the miasma of humanity at the testing centre.

Then, the DMV opened up a place on Steeles just around the corner from me. This should have been the start of something good. Right? No, not so much.

Let's just use the last four visits prior to this year as examples of why my trips to that nice little office in the strip plaza haven't worked out.

July 2003: I pull into the parking lot of the DMV and turn off the car. It rattles. It moans. And the air conditioning expires. Maybe not the DMV's fault, but little did I know how often this 'coincidence' would occur.

July 2005: I pull into the parking lot of the DMV and turn off the car. I try to take the key out of the ignition. This proves impossible. A relatively new acquisition (the old car of 2003 having expired), I find myself suddenly in need of a tow to my mechanic, who keeps the car for a week and then returns it with a new ignition block and some other stuff.

July 2007: I successfully park at the DMV AND leave the car seemingly in good order. However, I'm not in good working order, suffering in the throes of a bout of flu. Shouldn't have been anywhere near other humans, but it was the last day of the month and I had a disinclination to get pulled over for expired tags (another story to follow). So I bundled up and trundled to the place of my worst nightmares. I struggle up to the front when my number is called and complete the transaction. I then stumble out in front of the office, where my gold Saturn is parked. I apply the sticker to my rear licence plate and beep to unlock the driver-side door. It fails. I then notice, the gold Saturn I have applied the sticker to, is next to the gold Saturn I own. Side by side. I re-enter the DMV and go through the waiting process before finally getting the chance to tell my tale of woe. Costs me $100 bucks, $10 for each of two replacement stickers and $80 for the DMV to track down the owner of the other gold Saturn, who's new legal sticker I had 'replaced' with mine.

July 2008: I had used the one-year option the prior year, hoping to break my dismal double-year luck. Again, for the second time in a row, I successfully negotiated parking AND exiting the vehicle with it in one working piece. I go through the DMV line-up and proudly dump my paperwork in front of the bored clerk. She processes it and starts to give me my sticker, when she notices it was the extra copy of the 2007 paperwork I'd ended up with during my double-purchase of stickers. I must have looked like a crestfallen puppy. She took pity on me and sent me on my way. As it turns out, there MIGHT have been one piece of paper she didn't give back to me.

July 2009: I look high. I look low. I don't have my ownership slip to my car. It is SUPPOSED to be in the travel documents folder in the glove compartment box. It isn't. The insurance slip's there. I have the Licence renewal paperwork. But NO BLOODY PINK SLIP! It's now the last day of the month, not that this is unusual for my renewals. Technically due on my birthday, the fact is, giving the government money on time, let alone roughly on time, causes heart palpitations. And get this, the place I bought the car from no longer exists. It was a SATURN dealership. Thanks GM. Grrrrrrrrr! But Patrick does some research (he's been unusually calm and helpful lately) and discovers I can get a replacement pink slip for ten bucks and I can get it at the same time as I get the stickers.

And that's what happened. Waited in line, getting a seat almost immediately. Took 40 minutes start to finish, giving me time to read the first five chapters in Joe Haldeman's excellent The Accidental Time Machine. Lady who handled my business didn't even raise an eyebrow when I mentioned the need for both a pink slip and the sticker.

I'm no fool, although you couldn't prove it by this post. I know next year (it has to be next year, because I was prevented from re-upping for two years by the need next year of an emissions test) it'll be something else that will crop up. I'm already down to driving less than 3,000 kilometres a year and it won't take much to convince me to give up the car completely and taxi/rent from here on.

Say, like a trip to the DMV.

UPDATE: Yes, I know Pink slips are green (and the insurance slip is pink). But I'm old. I grew up in a time when car ownership papers were called pink slips. And now I'm too old to change habits. Punks!

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