On Saturday I got pulled over by a CHP officer just a mile or so from home. I was a bit miffed but not worried because I knew I had not been speeding or breaking any other law at the time... or so I thought.
As it turns out, I had.
My car's registration had been expired since September of last year!!
Now, I'll admit to not being THE MOST organized person and yes, it is true that I have three years of filing waiting to be done, piling up in the bottom of a file cabinet. However, barring some major mishap or life event, I am never late with bills and this is not the kind of bill I would ignore. Further, given that it had been expired for 5 months, I would have had to of missed several expiration warnings from the DMV, which I'm pretty sure I did not.
And yet, as the CHP officer patiently waited for me to sift through all the mommy crap in my glove compartment, my brain began to race. I bought the car in December of 2009 and did not remember ever having received or paid a registration renewal for it. I knew, as I was kinda pretending to look for the document, that I didn't have it but, since I hadn't realized it until that moment, I figured following through with my exclamations of confusion and incredulity was necessary.
I did find the original paper registration that was sent to me after I purchased the car but that was it. The officer took that, my license and insurance, and went off to run my numbers.
As a model citizen, I was not worried, of course. In fact, it was a sunny day, Daisy was not in the car with me (which I was really thankful for), and I was not in a hurry to get anywhere for a change. I sat in a strip mall parking lot with the window open and actually appreciated the enforced rest. (Yeah, I know, comes to something when you appreciate a traffic stop just to get some R&R.)
Turns out there was an incomplete release of liability on my DMV record, which saved me. A perfectly plausible explanation as to why I hadn't received any renewal notices (whew - I had been thinking stolen mail and identity theft or something.) I got a fix-it ticket anyway and ended up having a very nice conversation with the officer about my accent, which is pretty usual. The few other times I have been stopped by a cop, I have had similar experiences. I even actually thanked him for stopping me and alerting me to my out-of-date registration. We parted with a smile and told each other to have a good day.
(Yes, birds were chirping in the background too.)
All of which still left me with a 5-months out-of-date registration that I needed to take care of ASAP. Fortunately I don't have to drive to work every day but I still use my car A LOT and can't afford to be off the road for any length of time. This meant a trip to the DMV on Monday morning. And without an appointment.
Here is what I was thinking: long lines, hours out of my precious work-day, cancel my Valentines lunch with Hubby, arguments with the DMV rep who wants to charge me penalties for late payment, forms to take to the dealership to force them to release liability, more calls and arguments with them to get them to cover my penalties, weeks of issue and hassle, and perhaps even a mental breakdown by yours truly. Because these sorts of things are never easy, are they?
Well, as it turns out, sometimes they are.
I got to the DMV at 8am when they opened, was seen within 10 minutes, had my registration issue fixed, paid my registration minus penalties and left with my 2011 decal. I was home by 8:30.
I know. Chirping birds again.