The DMV Almost Broke Me
My DC car tags expired on February 7th. So, naturally, on February 7th, I decided it was time for me to get Cali tags for my VW Beetle, Bug, aka “Buuug,” which is pronounced the same way that Rudy Huxtable pronounced the name of her best friend, Bud. (The name “Buuug” is fitting because I treat Bug with the same lack of regard that Rudy treated Bud despite their unflinching loyalty to us both throughout the years.)
I thought the process of becoming a legit California driver and vehicle operator would be so simple. I was wrong.
Times it took to pass the Virginia Bar Exam: 1
Times it took to pass the California Driver License Written Test: 3
After I failed the test the first two times, I took a lunch break, drove aimlessly around Inglewood, and reevaluated my life.
On “my break,” I also read the entire California Driver Handbook.
Then I came back and took the test for a third time. And I finally passed.
The lovely ladies at the Inglewood DMV were incredibly kind to me, even though, around Hour Three, the security guard said, “You’re still here?” which is obviously more of an observation than a question.
I didn’t realize that I had no idea how to drive.
Apparently, I’ve just been winging it.
BUT getting my drivers license was actually the least dramatic part of this experience.
“By way of background,”1 over the course of a two-week period last month, I lost my favorite hoodie (R.I.P.), sports bra, tennis shoes, passport, DC car registration certificate, and a pair of Spanx, which literally disappeared into thin air in a parking lot in NoHo while I was holding them in my hands. Literally! I also spilled coffee on my laptop trackpad, which rendered it unusable for a couple of weeks, and I dropped my 50″ flat screen on the floor. This series of events accurately sums up what my life was like towards the end of the 2014 CBS Sketch Comedy Showcase.
So this is the state of affairs when I showed up at the Inglewood DMV to register Bug.
— Of course, I can’t register my car without proof of DC registration, which I don’t have.
— But I can’t get a replacement registration certificate from DC because my tags are expired.
— So I need to provide my title, which I can’t get from the DC DMV because there is a lien on it because I never notified the DMV when I paid off my car a thousand years ago.
— So I need to find the proof of lien satisfaction letter that I got from the finance company when I paid off my car in 2007. Yeah, right.
— So I need to contact my finance company, which went out of business 7 years ago. Of course!
So there I was. No CA registration. No DC registration. No title. No letter from my finance company. No finance company. Just riding dirty.
It took 2 months, 14 phone calls, 7 emails, and over-nighting my application to the DC DMV twice for the DC DMV to finally mail my car title.
In the meantime, I’m having a heart attack every time I pass a cop. I’m hyper-terrified of getting into an accident. I can only park at places that have lots or garages. I have to ask valet drivers not to park my car on the street. I’m afraid to go anywhere that requires me to get on a freeway. I refuse to drive in the rain.
Basically, every time I get into my car, my stress level is on 22, and my shoulders are now just a collection of knots.
I was about to have to dust off my Rolodex and call in some congressional favors or see if any of you had a play cousin or an ex-winter boo who “worked down at the DMV.”
I want to thank the 14th person I spoke to at the DC DMV, who heard my voice crack on the phone and was like, “Hold on. Let me see what I can do, baby.” She called a friend who answered phones in another department, and they snuck around, clicked some buttons, and made some things happen. She didn’t even cash my check.
THE DC DMV ALMOST BROKE ME, YA’LL.
But I finally got my Cali tags! I can operate my vehicle legally for the first time in months!
After I left the Inglewood DMV, I drove to Palos Verdes. I may have cranked Lil Chuckee’s “Da Wop” on repeat while smoking a wine flavored Black & Mild all the way down the 405.
Maybe. You don’t know me.
Maybe I just pulled over on the shoulder and wept silently to myself while listening to Maroon 5’s Songs about Jane because this experience has shaved whole years off of my life.
…By they way, when I got to Palos Verdes, my friend’s husband and her 9ish-year-old son volunteered to go to my car to remove my DC plates and replace them with my Cali plates before I had a chance to hide the half-smoked Black & Mild that I left in the cup holder or a chance to get rid of the smell. They didn’t say anything. So I didn’t say anything. But if you’re reading this, I’m SO embarrassed!
Then I made myself a margarita and talked my troubles over with this guy. Because that’s where I am in my life.
If hell is anything like the DMV, I better get my shit together.
Alas, Bug and I are back in the habit. And it feels so good.
Ugh. I still sound so lawyerly. ↩