I’d like to thank whoever it is that owns the white Honda Civic that looks exactly like mine who parked at the MetroWest Publix at the same time I did this afternoon. Because if I hadn’t seen your car and been momentarily confused as to whether it was actually my car, I wouldn’t have thought to look at my license plate. And then I wouldn’t have noticed that my 2013 registration decal that I know I put on back in December was gone.
Actually, since I tend to just slap the new decal over the old one, 2010 through 2013 were gone. I have no idea when this happened. I don’t know if someone deliberately ripped them all off (an act that would seem to be of somewhat limited nefarious usefulness), or if they simply got wet and fell off (much more likely, seeing as how overlapped they were). And I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve been riding around with 12-09 on the back of my car like a great big shiny beacon begging a cop to pull me over. All I know is that I stood there in the Publix parking lot muttering, “Son of a bitch,” to myself over and over again while holding two boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.
Out came the phone, and after cursing its connectivity for a few moments, I managed to get on the DMV website and find out what I needed to do. I could call the police and report the decal as stolen and they’d replace it for free. But waiting around for whatever the police had to do would likely take until at least 5:00, which meant any office I needed to go to would be closed and I’d have to extend this little drama into a second day. Besides, I was fairly sure my careless decal technique was responsible, not some roving gang of sticker thieves. So I had to print out and complete some form, then dash over to the tax collector’s office, all while carefully observing the speed limit so as to draw no undue attention to myself and end up talking to a cop after all.
Fortunately I got to the office in time, and didn’t have that bad of a wait. Which was clearly life’s way of luring me into a false sense of relief so it could really stick it to me by having it cost forty bucks to replace two square inches of reflective adhesive. It was basically paying for my registration twice. And of course, I’d already told them I lost the old one, so it was a little late to say, “Oh, wait, come to think of it, it was stolen, yeah, that’s it!” And I was already there in that magical “We close in half an hour, what are you doing here?” time when everyone is super friendly and not at all focused on going home for the day. So I forked over the money and got my nice new sticker, freeing me to drive with my normal sense of trepidation, forty dollars lighter, sadder and wiser.
Oh, but I made sure to pound that damn thing on to my license plate. It ain’t going anywhere.