Monday, 12 December 2011

It Can't Just Be Easy

The other day while I was at Superstore loading up on groceries, I put the final bag into the van, slammed the hatch and noticed someone had stolen the 2012 registration sticker off my license plate. Seriously? Isn't that a lot of work? I don't know about any of you, but that struck me as FAR too much work to be worth it. I am pretty sure those suckers, with glue adapted for Alberta weather, don't peel off all that easily.

I drove home, fuming, and told Jason about it as we unloaded the groceries.

"Well," he said, with an odd look on his face, "are you sure you remembered to put the stickers ON the cars when you re-registered them in November?"

When I re-registered them???


So the next day, as I bundled and loaded my kids up to drive to the Registries Office by our place, desperately praying I wasn't followed closely enough by a cop who might NOTICE that my van's plates had expired 9 days previously, I went to grab the information out of our other car so I could take care of them both at the same time.

This is where it got difficult.

For the life of me, I could not find the pink insurance slip for our Saturn. It wasn't in any of the places I expected it to be (namely, the glove box, the glove box, or possibly, down the back of the glove box), and it wasn't anywhere on the floor. After 20 fruitless minutes, I called Jason at work to see if he had any idea where it was, and in a little bit of a startled voice, he says,

"Huh. It's in my wallet. I have it right here. I wonder why??? But don't worry about it, because I seem to remember that last year you couldn't register that car anyway, because the registration is in my name."

Oh, yeah. Now that he mentioned it, I remembered that, too. At least it took the sting out of the fact that, for no good reason, he was carrying the insurance slip around with him. I locked the van doors, and moved the car into our parking spot, where at least it wouldn't (because this is the way our luck runs) get hit on the street in the next 6 hours and I would get a zillion dollar ticket for having an unregistered vehicle out there, and my insurance company wouldn't cover the damage.

After finally getting to the mall up the hill from us (having promised my younger children a trip to McDonald's, as neither of them were overly excited about the opportunity to stand in line for 3 days with nothing to do), I realized that the gas light was on in the van. No big deal- I would register the van, get gas, get McDonald's for the little kids, and still be back home in time to appreciate part of my day.

I reached into the glove box, grabbed my little folder (containing all the pertinent info, cause that's how you're SUPPOSED to do it) out of the van, un-car-seated the kids, and walked in. Score- there WAS no line up! The time I would be wasting getting gas had been magically redeemed to me! How often does THAT happen?

I stripped the kids out of their winter coats to their 'the heat in a public building is up far too high because winter is starting' layer, and walked up to give the lady my registration and pink slip (explaining sheepishly that I had forgotten all about it). As I pulled my driver's license out of my wallet for her, I realized I had no bank card.

We do everything in cash, and don't use credit cards. Years ago, we figured out how much we were spending on bank fees with both of us constantly going to the bank machine, and cut up one of our bank cards and now existed with just the single one. It halved our service charges, but created many an irritating surprise. Like now. I was going to have to come back.

"We also take cheques, Visa or MasterCard!" chirped the clerk.

Awesome- I knew I had a check left in the car from the last time Liz had to sell something and I wrote a check to cover it (because, as we only use one bank card and are inherently lazy, Jason and I had spent most of the cash she had collected for her poinsettia sales rather than go to a bank machine. Thanks for nothing, Gail Vaz-Oxlade.)

I bundled the little kids back up into their winter coats and ran to the van- yep- there it was- one check, slightly wrinkled, with barely a coffee stain to be seen. I smoothed it out, grabbed the little kids & ran back in, only to see the clerk with a sympathetic expression on her face.

"I can't do it." she said. "The only name on your insurance card is your husband's. It needs to show both your names. I can only re-register the vehicle to the person on the insurance."

"Seriously?" I asked, "Ok- can he come in and register it when he comes in to do his car later?"

"Nope!" she crowed gleefully, "The van is registered under your name, so it can only be you that does it! You'll have to call your insurance company and get them to fax a copy of a pink slip with both your names on it before we can help you!"

I sat the kids down on chairs to wait while I called our insurance company, gave Eva my keys, and handed Squid a piece of pocket gum (You know the stuff that's been in your pocket since probably last winter and is hard and crunchy and you have to chew it for about 10 minutes before it's even really gum??? That's pocket gum. Since it takes them longer to chew it, it takes them longer to lose interest and swallow it. That's why I gave it to him. Not because I didn't want to go back out to the van. That would be silly.)

I got my insurance agent on the phone, who, it having been at least 6 months since last I spoke to them, was not the same guy I had talked to last time, and had no idea who I was and had to look me up in a verrrrrrrry sloooooooow computer system, and proceeded to announce that although I was listed as the primary driver on one of the vehicles, and a secondary driver on the other, my name had been dropped from the actual ownership of the policy for no damn good reason. They could fix it, sure. But it was his lunchtime, and until he could get ahold of the correct people (who, it would appear, were ALSO at lunch), he couldn't do anything about it. Could he fax or email the right slips to me in, oh, say, an hour???

Even the registries clerk felt bad. And this is a person TRAINED to make your life more difficult at every turn.

This trip was a lost cause. It was easier anyway, cause I really DIDN'T want to write a cheque for 84 bucks. I was going to keep my composure, and accept it for what it was. I re-re-RE-bundled the kids up and went back out to the van, only to realize when I turned it on that the gas light was still lit, and I probably wasn't going to make it home on what few fumes I had left in the tank.

I ripped apart the ashtray and glove box, the back seat where my eldest children sit, and the pockets in the door and came up with $8.32. Good enough. It would get me home and I wouldn't have to stop for gas again till my NEXT trip to the registries place that night. I ran into the gas station to give the clerk my pocket change, and went out to the van (Quick note- $8.32 is actually a pretty decent amount of gas. WELL over an eighth of a tank.)

I pulled away from the gas station, grateful to just be going home. I was proud of the way I had handled it. I hadn't lost my cool, divorced my husband, beaten my children, screamed at the registries clerk, or shown up at a pizza place with a week-old pizza (expressly kept for that purpose) only to deposit in on the counter and announce that if they weren't even going to TRY to get my order right or fix the problem when I called, they could have the damn thing back (we don't order from there anymore). I was like a superhero. My own, special brand of superhero. Moms everywhere should admire me!

Right then, Squid's quivery, teary voice piped up from the middle seat.

"Are we still getting McDonald's???"

Never mind.

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