coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Monday, August 18, 2014

Legally Gray

I am officially a Floridian.  Last week T and I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get Florida driver’s licenses, giving up our New York State equivalents.   We also registered our cars in Florida and got FL plates.  In the course of these transactions I opened the hood of my car to look for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).  Imagining that I was coolly displaying my auto smarts, I clicked the knob that opens the hood, walked to the front of the car and yanked open the actual car hood, grabbed the metal rod that you pull up to hold the hood open and burned the *^$# out of my hand.  Yes, it was SO HOT the metal burned my hand.  Blisters even.  So believe it when I say that August in Florida is blistering hot.  And to top it all off, the VIN is not even inside the hood.  Everyone else seems to know that.  The lady who was taking care of us kept telling me not to open it, but I would not listen.  I was bound and determined to open the hood.  Sheesh, I don't know car things.  Truthfully, I did not even know how to open the hood of my car until that morning.  I asked T to show me how before we left.  That is why I was hell bent on opening it up.  There was no stopping me.

I was nervous about going to the DMV.  I imagined the worst: evil DMV employees foaming at the mouth, making my life hell just so they can savor a fleeting moment of authority.  I figured something was bound to go wrong.   I gathered up everything on their list of required documentation and more.   We went with two separate portfolios (one for T and one for me) both stuffed to the gills with documents that proved we existed and we owned those cars.  I brought every piece of paper I could find that seemed even remotely connected to our cars, including receipts for all repairs and inspections since we bought them.   Yep, that is not an exaggeration.   My motto is “Better Superfluous than Sorry.”  Good thing, too.  When she asked for proof that I paid off the loan on my car I was able to dig a little and produced it on the spot.  That was NOT on the list.

The reason it took so long for us to register is that:
1.  T lost his SS card, and
2.  Neither of us had an official state-issued birth certificate Florida would accept

That’s right; according to the “list” Florida will not accept the hospital-issued birth certificates we have successfully used all these years.  We had to write and wait for these things to arrive from the state’s Department of Vital Statistics.  Of course the place we needed to get the birth certificates from required SS cards, so we had to wait for T’s SS card to arrive before we could apply for our official birth certificates.  The clock was ticking.   A couple of weeks ago we went ahead and got Florida auto insurance because that was required.

A few days after we canceled our NYS policy and replaced it with a Florida policy a representative from the insurance company called to tell us they would not be able to cancel our NYS auto insurance until we turned in our NYS license plates and faxed them proof that we did so.  They were so sorry, but they would have to charge us for both policies until we turned in our NYS plates.  Grrrrr.   Of course, we had already signed up for the Florida insurance, and we still had not received our official birth certificates from a certain Midwestern State.  Plus, when the certificates arrived it would still take a while to get an appointment at the DMV.  So for at least a month we are stuck paying for both NYS and FL insurances.  Of course, we cannot physically turn in our plates so we mailed them.  We now have to wait for written notification from NYS DMV stating we turned them in.  Assuming we actually receive this notification, we must fax or mail it to the insurance company.   Then hopefully someone somewhere will cancel our NYS policy without us having to call multiple times with desperate cries for help.  Many of these bureaucratic actions seem a lot like screaming into the void and waiting for an answer from God.  This is how our life has been since we moved - endless complicated hassles.

The DMV representative was seriously sweet and kind.  I was relieved.  She took one look at me over the counter and said with a beatific smile, “Don’t be so nervous!”  Must be that she is psychic because it could not have been that obvious.  I tried to lower my shoulders, but they were seemingly hooked to my earlobes.  She smiled a lot and she laughed at our corny old people jokes.  The process took a long time and of course I burned my hand, but besides that everything went pretty well.  At last something was easy.  However, the next day she called to tell us that she forgot to copy one of the required documents and we had to bring it in.  She called T’s cell phone, so he thought she meant the document needed was for his car.  I was out gallivanting around, so he took the document down to the DMV.  After waiting in line for a while, she told him the document she needed was for my car, not his.  T does not do well in situations like this, so I am fairly certain there was steam coming out of his ears when he heard that.  He called me while I was driving home from Target loaded up with toys and sweets my grandchildren would most certainly not need.  I picked up the phone because it is not illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in Florida.  Florida is wild.  There are also lots of accidents on the roads.  But that is another story.

I drove home in a foul mood, grabbed the document, and drove like a Bat Out of Hell to take it to the DMV.  I was thinking bad thoughts all the way there.  When I arrived, the representative was still so damn sweet.  She waved me over so I did not have to wait in line.  To my twisted, friend-deprived psyche it seemed she was happy to see me.  It has been a long time since a non-family member was happy to see me.  I caved.  When she said how sorry she was for the inconvenience I just smiled my biggest smile and replied “No problem.”  I am such a liar.

Nothing is familiar or easy.  I still do not know where many things are in our house.  I do not know where any place outside our home is either.  I rely on the steady, robotic voice of my GPS.  I do not know the rules governing our lives.  I keep making mistakes.  I strongly prefer things to seem familiar and secure.  That will happen with time, I know.  Any time now would be good, actually.  Like Warren G. Harding and the post WWI populace, I await the return to normalcy.

Saturday morning we rode our bikes to the farmer’s market.  It is a nice market with great produce and interesting booths.  There was live music, Cuban sandwiches, flowers, crafts, and much more; and like good farmers markets everywhere, it is the heart of the community. We jumped in the pool when we got home.  I spent the afternoon doing genealogy research to my heart’s content.   Then we took Italian take-out to our daughter and son-in-law’s house because it was his birthday and nobody in their right mind wants to go to a restaurant with a 2-year-old.  We brought a little cheesecake (Sara Lee, if you must know) and let our 2-year-old grandson stick candles all over it.  He was so happy to make Daddy’s birthday cake.  We sang Happy Birthday.  There was a team effort by M&MV&N to blow out the candles and then we left.  Great day. 

Our 10 year old granddaughter was performing in a play this past weekend.  We saw it on Thursday, her parents saw it on Friday, and Saturday was her other grandparents’ turn to see the play.  She was incredibly good, by the way.  She is a natural comedienne with a flair for the dramatic.  At the risk of sounding positive, perhaps I should start thinking about that damn bright side once again.