Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why its sometimes better when your car IS stolen

So on the way home from work last night, after a fairly calm day, I passed by the spot where I parked my car opposite the corner of Seminole and Eastchester. The thing that caught my attention was that my car was not there ... in fact, there was another car parked in the exact same spot. Personally, I think my California plates just offended them ...

My first thought, surprisingly calmly, was that it was shocking that someone could have stolen a car so close to a police station. After talking to my Dad, I went over to the 49th precinct and after a few phone calls they confirmed that my car had not been stolen, but rather it had been towed and was sitting in the police impound lot over on 141st street. I was kind of surprised that my car had been towed, since I parked in a spot that another car was pulling out of, that I have seen occupied on many occasions (as I said, it was occupied by a different car when I walked past that evening).

I shared this information with the officer who was helping me out, and he replied, "Huh, they towed you from there. Well, I guess sometimes you just get unlucky." Not particularly comforting, but at least honest. So I called the pound, a bit confused as to what my car was towed for, and found out that although they were open until 8 pm, I would be unable to get my car this evening because I had a California registration ... my California plates had tipped them off. Apparently, to get your car out of the lot, you need to have NY registration.

Oh, and 185$ in cash for the tow. And if I don't get the car by 3 pm the next day, I have to start paying a 20$ a day storage fee. I hang up the phone and it strikes me that it would just be a colossal amount more efficient if they had just given me a ticket for several hundred dollars. I still would have gotten the message, but wouldn't have had to trouble them to take car of my car.

Well, still having California plates after 2 years in NY. Maybe I was asking for it.

So today, I woke up early and called the DMV to check on what I would need to get a new registration for my out of state car (license, title and insurance card). Check, check and check. So I walked 2.5 miles over to the DMV, filled out the right form and waited to get to the front of the line that allows you to get a ticket to wait in another line. Except I did not get that far, because the woman at the front of the first line looked over my stuff and said, "Sorry honey, this ain't gonna work." "Why not?" I asked. "This is a California insurance card, and we can only issue a NY registration with a NY insurance card."

Uh-huh. So I went back outside and called my agent in California, only to realize it was 7 am there and she was asleep. So I called through to State Farm, got the number of a local agent and called them up about getting NY insurance. I get through, and have a nice, long talk with Rosemarie, who sets up my NY insurance policy as I walk the 2.5 miles over to the insurance agent. Rosemarie is very nice, not incredibly competant (as she is unable to actually bring up my California policy so we can compare policy details) but we spend a bit of time and after writing a check for far more money than my California policy cost, we get a policy together (first thing I am doing after taking some time away from this day is calling the Gecko).

So then I walk back towards the apartment, where Aviva picks me up and drives me back over to the DMV. I go back inside, and wait in the same line for about half an hour, get to the front and the new guy looks over my forms, notes the NY insurance card and gives me a number so that I can start to wait in another line. Which I do for a good 45 minutes. When I finally get called up to the front, the lady gives me a lot of attitude despite my politeness.

I have never understood this ... I know the job is hard and people yell and it is boring, but you have to realize that when you work at the DMV most people are going to be unhappy or confused or both. Cut them some slack and they might make your day a little better.

So after looking over all the forms, the lady picks up my insurance card and my drivers license, looks them over and says, "This is not going to work." "You're kidding right?" I say somewhat incredulously. She procedes to tell me that because my license says Peter Jesse Gaskill, but the insurance card says Peter Gaskill, the card is not applicable to the license.

Back outside, on the phone with the insurance agent, who tells me the girl who just finished my case is not there. But she can help me, faxing a new copy of my insurance card to the conveniently located fax station near the DMV. I get the one page fax. It costs me five dollars. Then I go back to the DMV, more waiting in line to get a number so that I can wait in line. I finally get up to a clerk, who, wonder of wonders, looks over everything and silently nods. She then gives me a new set of license plates and takes my check.

We leave the DMV (Aviva had come inside to wait with me because she is wonderful. Also nuts, because waiting with me almost drove her crazy) and drive down to the impound lot, which about 25 minutes away. At this point, I only have about an hour until they begin to charge me more money to store my car (which seems ridiculous, since they did not need to take my car in the first place). I try to enter the lot at the first entrance, but I am rebuffed and told to move down to the second entrance. There they look an my ID and ask me to follow the small green lines to the office.

I do that, get to the office, and then wait in a non-existent (meaning me and one other person) line for about 25 minutes while the six women behind the counter talk to each other about nothing. They finally realize I exist, and come over to help me. After 30 or 40 minutes of paper pushing and 185$, I get my paperwork, and head up to the top of the yard, get a guy to take me to my car, so I can look at the 165$ ticket on my car. Awesome.

I get in the car, start to drive away, and then have to stop. I need to install my new license plates ... can't leave with California plates on my car. Finally, with new plates, new insurance, a fresh 165$ ticket and a much larger hole in my wallet, I drive home, hoping I will never again need to deal, in any way, with the NYPD.

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