Friday, October 05, 2007

Stops and Starts

Tomorrow morning we're going on our insanely long road trip from NYC to Augusta, GA, with a "side trip" to Florida -- that's about 2200 miles (3500 km for my overseas readership). With two kids.

The last two days have been composed of not enough sleep and way too many errands. Grammy's here to play with and take care of the kids, who are totally amped up by her arrival and who haven't been sleeping as much as usual.

The last two days have also been peppered with odd experiences while running said errands. I thought I'd share them with my loyal 8-9 readers, just to give you all a taste of a day in the life of a suburban American mom.

The Department of Motor Vehicles

I realized on Thursday that it would probably be wise to re-register the car before our trip, since I had let the registration lapse. The first challenge was finding the DMV, which for some reason in this county is not in the most populous area. In fact it's in an area with many winding streets, and road construction that forced me off my Google-mapped route into unknown territory. After driving around fairly cluelessly for 5 minutes I got directions at a gas station.

This DMV functions differently than the ones I remember from California. Here, you have to first stand in the "Information" line (nowhere is that posted on any signs, just like many other things here, they just expect you to know these things), from whence you will be given your alphanumeric receipt. Multiple screens flash these codes to let people know when their turn will come, as well as being announced over an intercom. Very efficient, I guess.

I was glad of it however, when I suddenly realized that the title to the car only had Anthropapa's name on it, and I couldn't remember if the registration had only his name or mine as well. I did not relish the thought of filling out a long form, waiting God knows how long, and then being told to go away and try again another time.

The Information Line

The harried woman behind the counter listened to my question about the title, and told me she could look up the registration for me. I handed her the title and she tapped the numbers into her computer.

Then she sat and gazed at the screen for the longest time.

Then she typed in some more numbers, or possibly some letters. More gazing ensued.

Then she finally said that my name was there too, so she thought I could update the registration without Anthropapa's drivers license. She handed me my receipt.

To my utter shock, my number came up and was announced immediately. And I mean that I had only walked about 20 feet before I saw my number flash up there. I actually gasped, right there in the DMV. I had never before made it up to the counter at the DMV in under 30 minutes.

Window Number 8

I explained my predicament again to a slightly less harried woman. I feel that I have to describe this woman in some detail due to her interesting distinguishing features.

She was wearing sunglasses, evidently to shield her from the harsh glare of the fluorescent lighting. She appeared to have had a skin graft over the end of her nose and her upper lip. She had a delightful Jamaican accent, which made me think that at any moment she would tell me that my car was in fact registered to John Smallberries.

After taking the title and pecking around on her computer, the nice Jamaican lady then laid this one on me:

"I can't find your car. What's the licence plate number?"

I stammered something about having to go check but that I could remember the first three letters. Luckily, she found the car, told me the license plate number, and said that I could register the car all by my bitty self. Which I did, after filling out the form and paying the nice Jamaican lady $55. (Not a bribe, the actual registration fee for the next 2 years.)

Total time in the DMV? A mind-boggling 30 minutes. That's got to be some kind of record.

It's the Thought That Counts

When I went back out to the car, I thought to myself, why assume that Anthropapa will handle putting the registration sticker on the window (the logic being that all things car-ish are his domain)? I'll take care of it myself, and won't he think I'm so kind for thinking of it?

Now's the time to 'fess up that we do not in fact have a car per se, we have a good old fashioned gas-guzzing minivan. And this particular minivan has one of those protruding snouts that creates a very acute angle between the windshield and the dashboard. I was able to wedge a few fingers in there where -- somehow -- Anthropapa had put the last registration sticker. The sun was beating down on me through the glass, and I was feeling very thirsty, cranky, and tired.

Let's just say that I was able to pick off a 1x2 mm square piece of the old sticker, and shoved the new registration sticker into the glove compartment.

Expect light posting next week (as if there's been heavy posting lately), depending on whether Great-grandpa Fred's got Internet access and whether anything interesting happens. There have been rumors of fishing rods for the kids and way too many relatives in attendance, so who knows what might happen!

4 comments:

Charlotte said...

That IS insanely long. I thought we were mad, taking our kids on 1000-km drives to France and Italy. How many days is it going to take you? Glad to hear you got the car admin so neatly sorted out. Hope you have a wonderful time. Don't forget to come back with stories.

(un)relaxeddad said...

2200 miles! I don't know whether to be horrified or jealous. But children won't forget those sorts of roadtrips. I think a minivan is excusable when you're crossing a continent.

Henitsirk said...

Charlotte: It's only going to be 2 days to get to Georgia...the interstate highways are amazing and there's no rush hour on the weekends. Don't worry, I don't think a trip of this magnitude will be sans stories!

URD: I only took 2 long trips as a child, from Los Angeles to Oregon (about 900 miles one way). But they were memorable. My kids are remarkably mellow while traveling, so it's not too horrible.

Kerryn said...

Have a wonderful time in Georgia (and Florida) -- I hope it all goes as smoothly as your trip to the DMV and that you bring back some wonderful stories.