Monday, January 24, 2011


Emma is now the proud owner of a used 2003 Ford Escape with 90k+ miles on it. It used to be mine, but because of various insurance issues and the fact that she goes to school in Canada, it made the most sense to 'gift it' to her through the magic of title and registration transfer.

To make the magic happen, one must make a visit to the DMV - a place that strikes fear into the hearts of most residents. I hate lines and I hate waiting (one of the many reasons that Bill does the grocery shopping). Bill understands this and offered to go with Emma to make the transfer. He even re-arranged his morning to do it, but since I actually held the title it made more sense for me to go.

So off we went. And to minimize the delay we decided to get to the DMV when it opened at 9 a.m. We chose the DMV at the Northtown plaza partly because it was the closest, and partly because there is a Manhattan Bagel in the same vicinity.

We also picked the coldest day of the year.

As I stood outside the glass front waiting for the DMV guy to unlock the door, I hoped that the process wouldn't take long and that we had everything we needed. One thing about Emma, she is ORGANIZED. She had researched the 'how tos' on the DMV website, secured Canadian insurance (and proof thereof) and reminded me to bring a screwdriver in case we had to surrender the plates.

I held the door open for another frigid Erie county resident - thereby allowing her to gain the 'first in line' status. Did I get a thank you? A nod? An acknowledgement? NO! Do you know why? This is the DMV - and it is every man for himself.

The ticket number that the rude Erie County resident  received was A -1 . We received B-400. I told Emma that things were not looking good. It was 9:02 a.m.

But, by 9:03, we were called to Desk 4 where Marjorie held court. As we approached I tried to assess Marjorie's mood. Clearly, Marjorie had been working there a long time. She was a mature worker and I could tell by the lines on her face that smiling wasn't a common occurrence. Plus, she wore a hearing aid and had a LOT of trouble understanding me. Within the first moments of our transaction she told us that she was 'one of those DMV bitches'.  Emma and I exchanged a look. Marjorie then went on to explain that she didn't make mistakes and that, therefore, her performance reviews were perfect; so, it didn't really matter that she was a bitch. I took that as a fair warning.

The funny thing was.... she took a shine to Emma. She talked directly to her and kind of left me out of the conversation. Being an astute HR person, I backed away and let Emma handle the rest of the transaction. When Marjorie figured out that we hadn't filled out a particular form, she gave us her only copy and let Emma fill it out while still standing at her counter. She did not make us sit down and take another number. Things were looking good and I decided that now was a good time to secure the screwdriver and the WD-40 and unscrew the plates.  Emma pleaded with Marjorie to keep the old plates (Emma hates the retro orange ones) but Marjorie said it was the law. She then told us that the only person with whom she had dealt that actually liked the new orange plates was a woman who owned a yellow car. The way she said "yellow car" you could tell she didn't approve of anyone driving a yellow car.

I left the warmth of the DMV and gasped at the blast of cold air.  Due to my tremendous handy-man skills I got those plates off lickety-split. I even brought a brown paper bag to dump them in (they were wet and really dirty). It occurred to me that I probably looked a little strange in a full length fur ripping off plates from a filthy SUV.

By the time I got back, Emma had completed the transaction and she and Marjorie were waiting for the plates. When I handed them to Marjorie in the aforementioned brown bag (it also had handles and the take out bill from Wasabi stapled on the side) Marjorie actually smiled: "Oh good! I can use this for any other plates I get today".

As we made our way out to the lot to put on the new plates, Emma told me that Marjorie had told her that her mother's name was Emma and that she also had a granddaughter named Emma. Emma thought that perhaps that was why Marjorie was so nice to her. But, I think Marjorie, the self-proclaimed "DMV bitch" merely recognized an organized, respectful, pleasant young woman who sincerely appreciated being 'gifted' an SUV with 90k+ miles.

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