After a false start following my recent DMV excursion, where I went to an utomotive service center close to my house, hoping to get an enabling leg-up on fulfilling my “Brakes and Lamps” certification requirement, and the automotive service center attendant lied about being an authorized “Brakes and Lamps” professional – he wasn’t – lied about my smog certificate being invalid – it wasn’t – and lied about the nearest authorized “Brakes and Lamps” being downtown, twenty miles away – it wasn’t – hitting the admirable “Trifecta” of “I really hate this guy”, I went home, sensing that completing the demanding DMV prerequisites for my “Registration” certificate were not going to be easy.
(Reminder: Registering a “Salvage” car – a car the insurance company has “totaled out” after an accident – is considerably more onerous than for a regular car. Secondary Reminder: They hit me!)
The next day, bright and afternoony – I do this writing in the morning – after completing the pages of forms I’d been sent home with, I decided to mitigate the situation by availing myself of modern technology, researching the nearest “Authorized ‘Brakes and Lamps’ centers in Santa Monica” on the internet.
It turns out, contrary to what I had been mistold the evening before, there were plenty of them. I wrote down some names, hoping to ace the authorized “Brakes and Lamps” certification hurdle and then hop over to the DMV with my completed documents, and “Spit-Spot!” as they say in England, I’d be finished, driving merrily on my way.
I drive into the automotive service center I’d selected, I get out of my car, walk over to the attendant and I say,
“I need an authorized ‘Brakes and Lamps’ certification.”
“We don’t do that.”
Did I mention it said on the internet they did?”
Fortunately, the man refers me to a reachable automotive service center that can actually help me. I get back in my car and I immediately drive over there. And indeed, the appropriately named Joy Automotive is exactly what I am looking for. They can definitely help me.
Unfortunately, not right away.
There is an hour’s work ahead of me, and the “Brakes and Lamps” test will take another hour to complete. My available options are three in number: I can make an appointment for another day. I can leave and come back an hour later, but since Joy Automotive is, without an appointment, a “First come, first serve” operation, I might then have to wait even longer. Or I can stay there for two hours and get it done.
I decide on “Option Number 3”. I notice a cemetery across the street from Joy Automotive. I immediately envy its inhabitants.
Flash forward – if you can characterize a yawning expenditure of time a “Flash” – the Joy Automotive mechanic comes over to where I am waiting and says, “I want to show you something.”
Have you ever known “I want to show you something” to ever be good news?
With my car elevated on a hoist, the mechanic reveals that, although I had passed “Brakes” with flying colors, behind the left front turning signal under the fender, there is no wiring and no socket, making my left front turning signal functionally inoperative, which meant I had ignominiously flunked “Lamps.”
Apparently, when the dealership Body Shop put my car back together after the accident, through accidental oversight, breathtaking incompetence or deliberate neglect, they had left me with a “Potemkin” turning signal – all “show” in the front, and behind it, there was nothing.
Tic Tac Toe
Back to the Lexus dealership to get the forgotten underpinning for my turning signal, back to Joy Automotive to show it was fixed, procuring official “Brakes and Lamps” certification, then over to the DMV – a three-step process sucking more time out of the precious remainder of my life.
Unfortunately, “Tic” would take longer than expected.
By now, it was Friday afternoon and the Lexus Body Shop was closed for the weekend. Accepting a courtesy “Loaner Car” (having now received a replacement “Proof of Insurance” certificate), I leave my car at the dealership, promised that the repair work will be taken care of first thing Monday morning.
I call the dealership Monday afternoon.
“What’s goin’ on over there?”
“Let me check, and I’ll get back to you.”
The guy never got back to me.
I call Tuesday afternoon,
“Why is this taking so long?”
“Well, we lost the car…”
“You lost the car?”
“It’s okay. We found it. Your work will be completed by four.”
I drive to the dealership at four, and my car is ready. I drive to Joy Automotive, and I flash them my left front turning signal, receiving my authorized “Brakes and Lamps” certification. I drive over to the DMV, where, I line up to get a number, “B-153”, so I can sit on a chair and wait for “B – 153” to be called. When “B -153” is finally called, I am dispatched to “Window Number 10” where I utter a hopefully, sympathy-earning “How’re ya doin’?” A woman with a distinctive Rosanne Barr whine processes my paperwork, and then issues me a “Registration” certificate, along with, to my surprise, a new set of license plates.
“Where are the ooooold license plates?” the Rosanna “sound-alike” inquires.
“They’re on the car.”
“You are supposed to bring them innnnnnnn.”
“They are on. The car.”
It has been a week since this torturous ordeal began. I am entirely out of politeness.
Seeing sparks flying out of my eyeballs, Ms. Rosannne “sound-alike” judiciously relents.
“Make sure you destroyyyyy them.”
“I shall explode them with dynamite.”
I did not actually say that, fearing arrest for destroying government property, even property struck from the Department of Motor Vehicle records because they are the plates of a car that seemingly no longer exists. (I was required to also surrender my “Pink Slip.” When someone later asked me who now owns the car, I assertively said, “Nobody.”)
It was over.
If this were a kid, during a moment of weakness – my life a pointillist painting of moments of weakness – I’d have inevitably said,
“You have no idea the things I do for you.”
But it was a car.
I slipped my “Registration” certificate into my glove compartment, and I quietly drove home.