i realize i'm in a rare situation to be able to "work from home", which is really, in cases of feeding the bureaucracy, just running errands on company time, while then doing the company's business at hours that make other people scratch their head. (the last project wrapped up the other night after the germans had already arrived for work the next morning). so, the last couple of days has been almost entirely devoted to the simple privilege of driving a car.
hint #1: even if you're married and planning on staying that way, still don't register vehicles and other property in joint names if you can help it. that's because statistics say that you are just as likely to regret it as you are to make it to the nursing home with coincident domiciles intact, and the down-side risk, i.e. that of becoming imprisoned by the bureaucracy that will always demand to be fed, just isn't worth it. that goes for bank accounts, credit cards and just about everything you can think of, but doubly so for anything having to do with the registry of motor vehicles.
hint #2: when you find yourself imprisoned by the bureaucracy, remember that maintaining a pleasant demeanor, as supremely difficult as that may be in the face of what to which you will become confronted, (nods to winston churchill who pointed out that ending sentences with prepositions was something up with which he would not put, and, yeah, i think he was drinking and being extremely sarcastic at the time), may very well be your only hope of escape. that includes finally getting to the front of the line without a checkbook or piles of andy jacksons in your wallet, and finding out that registration changes of any sort can't be paid by credit card.
because bureaucracies don't care about you, even though neither are they "out to get" you, either. they are just what they are, and, in order to ensure their persistence, (remember, that's the only way that bureaucrats get paid and are able to feed their families, of which they are at least as interested as you and me), they simply need to be fed. licenses on one side, and registrations on the other. and, if you'd like the nice lady at the registration window to handle your license change without making you go through the entire other line to do it, then just remember that railing at her for the stupidity of having to get a brand new set of license plates just because your wife kicked you out of the house will, indeed, come back to bite you and only you on the ass. she could really rather care less one way or the other. but, if you're the only person likely to smile at her throughout the entire morning, and you take that time to smile and see the humor in your pathetic imprisonment and share your magnanimity with her, there's a chance, however small, that she might smile back and be inclined to do you what favors of which she's capable. only a fool whines where the line of the clerk's discretion ends, and spends 20 minutes ranting about the fact that she doesn't seem to have the right paperwork in order to have her license reinstated while her similarly un-bathed boyfriend with the bad combover stands behind with his hands in his pockets. (i *wish* i had had a camera on my cell phone today, because you would not otherwise believe the appearance of these two).
so, where was i?
oh, yeah... helpful hints for enjoying bureaucracy..
hint #3: plan on it taking 3 times as long as you estimated in your most conservative estimation, and on *not* getting it all done today. i actually used this approach a week ago when this all began, but forgot it yesterday while I was spending my entire late afternoon at the insurance company getting what i thought were the final touches done on all the paper. because, back to the "3 times as long" thing... that's actually a lie, and, observing that murphy was an optimist, the factor will inevitably increase to whatever number is necessary to ensure that you only finish with one step of the process after closing time of the subsequent step. but the good news for those of us practicing the zen of bureaucracy is that the lines at the rmv are, indeed, shorter the moment they open up in the morning as opposed to when they summarily close in the afternoon, and where one hand taketh, the other hand happily taketh with that much more alacrity, though not quite as much as would otherwise have been had you showed up to the rmv realizing you were going to need either a check or a prodigious pile o' cash, and not had to run down to the atm to ensure you could include the green kind of paperwork along with all the other colors.
so, long story not quite so long, the forms are filled, the plates are swapped, and there's only one more step to be done in the process, which, if you've been paying attention, it would not be wise to assume is only one step, since getting your car reinspected because you now have a new registration which was necessitated by the new title which was necessitated by the new insurance that had to be acquired because it's not enough to just tell folks that you're keeping the beat-up car while your ex continues to enjoy the new one, doesn't mean that there won't be some sort of technicality among the motor vehicle inspection bureaucracy that will require further care and feeding of the bureaucratic beast. (so far, the minimum investment is another $30 and whatever time it takes to get to the head of the line at the inspection station, but we know not to bank on anything but it taking longer than we thought).
hint #4: bureaucracies will suck you dry, and, glass half-full, you could think of them as helping you find your proverbial bottom dollar, but you better not think of what you *really* think, or that will sour your mood, cause you to say something impolite to one of the bureaucrats along the way, and then find out (a la murphy) that they're actually the one person who *could* have helped you out, but now they're not going to. today i used this hint to my advantage, and figured that along with the other thousands of dollars this little exercise is costing me, another $70 (plus unanticipated costs that i'm smart enough to know *will* be there) for a vanity plate is no big deal. want to know how beautiful the serendipitous karma of zen bureaucracy can be? the nice woman at the head of the registration line (remember, i smiled at her and was friendly even after she told me i had to go find some cash and start again at the back of the line) was able to check the database for prior dibs, and lock me in (she says) for getting my initials as a license plate, even though, every other year i've checked their database online they've sworn to me it wasn't available. maybe some poor sod finally had his plates revoked for getting caught on the wrong side of the bureaucracy, i don't know. but even though i know well enough to know there still might be a gotcha for this, i'm still happy enough to smile at the possibility of it, and look half-full upon it as the "good thing that happened to me today at the registry".
because, hint #5: nothing good ever happens to anybody down at the registry. not really.