It didn’t rain today. But I wasn’t out enjoying the weather. Nor was I inside watching rugby matches. Instead, I spent the day waiting.
I got up this morning and made the decision to just go an take care of getting Pennsylvania plates on my vehicle. Yes, I still had plates from my previous state until today. I was all set to take care of that, and then, well, the identity theft happened. First it was that you can’t get state plates without a state driver’s license, and I had to wait to do that. Since they used a fraudulent license, I had to keep my old license until I had submitted all the necessary paperwork regarding my identity theft considering I had to include copies of my license as part of the process. And since the person, or, rather, people (I learned recently there are actually two people that plead guilty) bought several cars with the loans they obtained using my identity, messing with my car’s title and whatnot was not something I could do for a bit either. So I waited. I waited until the identity theft had been proven so there wouldn’t be any question that the car belonged to me. Now that the people have been caught and plead guilty, I no longer had to wait.
Getting plates in this state is an, um, interesting experience. You don’t actually submit paperwork to a state office. Yes, you get your driver’s license from an official sate PennDOT office, but not your car plates. For your car plates and title, you go to an authorized third party office. These frequently not only offer vehicle licensing services, but also offer bail bonds, cheap car insurance (since insurance is required for license plates), check cashing, and/or pay-day loans. I’m not joking. And you write them two checks. One to the third party office for processing, and one that they submit to the state with your paperwork. That was the easy part. I walked into an authorized office (conveniently identified by the big sign saying “CAR TAGS HERE”), showed proof of insurance, they verified the VIN on my vehicle, I handed over my title and checks, and walked out with a registration certificate and PA license plate in my hand. I now had 10 days to get my state inspection and my emissions inspection. Simple enough.
Little did I know that would take pretty much the rest of the day.
The first thing I did after walking out of the office was remove my old plates and put the PA plate on my car. My previous state had both front and rear plates, and PA only has rear. It’s pretty funny, you can still see the outline where my front plate was…the bumper around the plate faded a bit over the past 6 years. I did make a stop to buy coffee and a snack (Wawa, I heart you) and drove into a service place that had the nice little sign indicating they were an official inspection station for the state. I handed over my paperwork and keys and sat down with my book to wait. That was at 1pm. I foolishly assumed that this would take no more than a couple of hours tops. I was wrong. So very very wrong.
I didn’t leave the service place until almost 5:30pm. Over FOUR hours. Oh. My. God. What was worse is that there wasn’t really any place I could go…and I had no way to get anywhere anyway seeing that, well, they obviously had my car. So I sat. And waited. I read my book for a good long while (got through over 100 pages of it). And then waited some more. I walked a block or so to a drugstore to get something to drink (the coffee long gone), came back and waited even more. I sat outside on the curb talking to a friend on the phone for an hour. I went back inside and sat in the typically uncomfortable chairs in the service waiting area for some more waiting. I started to feel like I was losing my mind. Finally, my car was done. I passed both inspections, got the oil changed, paid them an obscene amount of money, they returned my keys, and I was outta there. Ironically, I got out to the parking lot to retrieve my vehicle and had to wait yet a little bit more while they stuck the inspection stickers on my car.
I leave the service station, only to get home and realize that they had not reattached the plastic undercarriage shield properly and it was rubbing against my wheels and hanging a bit haphazardly. So I had to go back. By the time I got back I was so not in a good mood. I had waited for over four hours, only to have to go back and wait even more for them to fix their screw up and actually finish the job properly. I admit to being a bit less than polite when I was explaining that they had neglected to reattach my undercarriage shield.
And to think that the inspections have to happen on an annual basis. I think I’ll try a different service station next time. I never want to see that particular service station waiting are again.