Photo365: November 3, 2009

Sigh… here’s today’s photo… and BOY is there a story to go with this…



The story actually begins yesterday.  It was bad enough having to teach during a Yankees World Series game. But at least, when class started, the Yanks were leading the Phillies 1-0. By the end of the class, it was 6-1 Philadelphia. NOT good. I drove home, not really listening to the game — just switching back and forth periodically. I was literally one block from my house, and the red lights go on behind me. I pulled over, expecting the police car to pass me and go on to whatever he was responding to. No such luck. He pulled in behind me, and I turned on the inside lights and started fumbling in the glove compartment for the registration and insurance card. By the time he got to the window, I had found the insurance card but not the registration. That’s when he told me I wasn’t likely to find it: the registration on my car had been expired since the 31st of March.


That’s right… for the past 19 months, my car registration has been expired.

I was sitting there with my mouth open, because I remember distinctly renewing it online, when he told me that given how long it has been unregistered, town protocol was to tow the car, with a charge of $136. At that point, well… I won’t even try to describe my state of mind.

Fortunately, he had a lot of reasons NOT to impound the car: I was literally a block from home, I was not giving him any kind of hard time, I was obviously maintaining insurance on the car (who in their right mind would pay NJ’s exorbitant insurance rates and NOT keep the car registered? don’t answer that, you …), and I have a totally 100% pristine driving record. No wants, no warrants, no points.

So he contented himself with a $54 ticket (the same I would have had to pay for illegal parking, by the way, and the same for not being able to produce the registration card even if I’d had it) and a stern lecture NOT to let him catch me driving the car again until it was insured. I assured him I would either renew it online last night or first thing today at the DMV. He repeated: “Don’t let me catch you driving again until you do.”

When I got home, I checked my computer, and found that I had authorized a charge for registering the car in 2008 but that charge never actually went through. And since I technically didn’t get the car registered in 2008, they didn’t send me the renewal form for 2009. The officer was absolutely right. The car had been unregistered since March 31, 2008. No hope for beating any ticket there…

And of course… the Yankees lost. They did make it interesting, pulling within 2, but still lost.

Now… first thing this morning, I checked online for the hours of the local DMV and found that it opened at 8 a.m. but might be “unavailable” because of construction. I drove over anyway and only one car was in the parking lot with a man walking away from the door. I rolled down my window and asked if it was closed and he said yes. Without thinking, I assumed it was because of the construction. I drove home, checked online for the next nearest office, printed out directions to the Elizabeth DMV office. Drove over, parked the car (had to hunt all over the car including on the floor for a quarter for the #$@# meter), walked over to the building two blocks away and…

It was closed.

It’s Election Day, of course. All the DMV offices are closed.

Now… here’s the problem. I have to get home, safely, tonight, with an unregistered car, in the same town and during the same shift as last night’s cop. The one who warned me, repeatedly, not to drive the car without it being registered. I’m going to take a slightly different route home. I’m going to stay off main roads as much as humanly possible. I’m going to pray he’s assigned to a different part of town tonight or, at least, that he doesn’t see me.

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