February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012

Carmageddon

As my mom prepares to leave for her next OCONUS work assignment, I prepare to take ownership of her car and say goodbye to mine. I can’t complain; it’s been a good run. But cars are like televisions and children: when you hit the 10-year mark, it’s time for a trade-in.

I’m sorry, what?

Unfortunately, this vehicle transfer is taking place in the state of Virginia. Where not a single transaction can be accomplished in fewer than two visits to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Dante’s Inferno has nothing on this place.

The fun starts before you even set foot in the door, of course. I made a checklist of actions to keep everything straight (also because I have slight OCD), and here’s what I have so far:

1. Put my mom’s car on my insurance.
2. Cancel my mom’s insurance.
3. Have my mom sign the car’s title over to me.
4. Apply for a new title, registration, and license plates.
5. Return the old license plates.
6. Apply for a refund on the time remaining on the old registration.
7. Tell my mom’s car tax jurisdiction that she has sold the car.
8. Apply for a refund on the time remaining on the old car tax.
9. Tell my car tax jurisdiction that I have purchased the car.

All this, plus four forms (two of which must be notarized), calls to at least three entities, and finding an envelope big enough to fit license plates in. Thank goodness we don’t have those long European plates. I have to get a mailing tube.

And that doesn’t even start to cover the process I have to complete to get rid of my old car. HAHAHAHAHA.

I’m not annoyed that I have to do so many steps and forms and calls. (Well, a little annoyed.) I’m more annoyed that Virginia wants these things to all be done pretty much simultaneously. I first encountered this belief when my mom and I bought the car. The dealer wouldn’t let us drive it off the lot until we had proof of insurance. The insurance company wouldn’t give us insurance until we’d purchased the car. So I end up sitting at the car salesman’s desk, on the line to Geico, negotiating an insurance policy, on Labor Day 2010. HAPPY HOLIDAY TO ME.

Part of me wants to believe there is a method to the madness. Maybe the VA DMV makes this so complicated in the hopes that people won’t do it. Then the DMV can fine them, and keep the taxes they would have otherwise refunded, and have the best story at the national DMV convention. (I feel like Alaska would have the worst stories, because everyone there uses those li’l planes.)

Anyway, I have taken the motto “I SHALL OVERCOME” as my theme throughout the process. I will repeat it as I wait in line at the notary, as I take my number at the DMV, and as I’m told (as I expect to be) that I also need form XYZ-1 because my last name ends in a vowel and a copy of my genome sequence.

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'entrate.

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