I Love the DMV. You Heard Me.

I have a history of missing important automobile expiration dates: registration, insurance, inspection… it’s an embarrassing habit that I should have grown out of some time ago.

It is one thing to get pulled over in Phoenix for driving on expired Texas plates when you just moved to Arizona and are in your twenties. It is quite another thing to get pulled over for expired plates after dropping your kids off at school in New Jersey when you’ve lived there for seven years and are over forty.

2013 is the first year that I managed to get all my vehicles registered on time. I was feeling, finally, like a real adult. Driving Miss Lucy (my ’66 Mustang) down the main drag in town I noticed an inspection sting set up on the other side of the road. It’s pretty common: they make you slow down and check your inspection sticker as you go by, and pull over violators. This caused me to check my sticker. Which had an expiration date of tomorrow.

Crap.

The DMV is its own circle of hell. I’m pretty sure it’s the 11th, right after the one containing clowns. But if we all hate it so much, consider the poor bastards that actually work there. That’s probably a hard job to love; definitely a hard job to stay positive in. You’re dealing with these cranky people all day long who can’t follow directions or get their shizz in on time…

I planned on lining up the next morning before they opened. But every time my alarm went off I thought about the DMV and hit snooze.  I finally got up around 7:30, poured some coffee and looked up their 11th Circle of Hell Live Webcam. The line was already wrapped around to the entrance and they hadn’t even started inspecting yet. I started weighing how bad it would be if I blew it off. It’s a $200 ticket,  but sitting in my yoga pants with a Puggle on my lap, I couldn’t bear the thought of heading over there. I always worry so much about if the car’s going to pass inspection or not.

Half an hour of reading blogs and Facebooking later, the page refreshed and there was no line. So I put Jack back on the bed, put on real pants, and headed out the door.

What I forgot was that the inspection station is a whole different vibe from the side where you get all the licensing and registration stuff taken care of. And at the DMV inspection station? I’m a rock star. Or, more correctly, my car is.

She's kind of a big deal.
She’s kind of a big deal.

They all remember Miss Lucy from two years ago when they last inspected her, and everyone comes over from their own bay to tell me a Mustang story–because everyone has a Mustang story.

One guy told me how his dad had a ’65 fastback. He let him drive it sometimes, but he’d have to spend a lot of time airing it out if he wanted to take a girl out because his dad smoked cigars. His dad later had an accident and actually died in the car. They did restoration afterwards but then put it up for sale; none of the kids wanted it after that. “My dad loved that car,” he said.

The guy who completed my inspection actually got a little weepy, shook my hand overlong and told me it brought back a lot of good memories. It seemed like he wanted to tell me some of them but realized the reality that we were standing in the inspection bay in the NJDMV. I understood in that moment that Miss Lucy is always going to pass inspection.

It got me to thinking: I bet there’s a market for classic car therapy. You know how animal therapy reaches certain people? And Art or Music or Dance or Drama therapy reaches certain other people? I think I could just take this car around and certain people– namely, middle-aged guys– would automatically feel better. They’d tell me about their dead fathers and their glory days, and the girl that got away. We’d go for a drive, maybe get an ice cream. I’d be covered by everyone’s insurance, make a nice little side income. I wonder how you’d get licensed for that.

Do you have a Mustang story?

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28 thoughts on “I Love the DMV. You Heard Me.

  1. Nice. It’s great you still have Miss Lucy! I remember being into muscle cars when I had a boyfriend in my mid-20s who had one, and it was pretty cool to be a girl who knew about such things….I’m far removed from that scene now and unfortunately my Subaru Outback is one of many other mom-cars here where I live, no conversation piece, but thankfully the guys who do my inspection in my small town still give me attention because I have all my teeth and most women don’t….:) Just kidding…Great story…have fun with your Mustang, you don’t have to worry now for a whole ‘nother year!

  2. My Suzie car had similar therapeutic effects…and was a sort of hazing for young guys because of the way the hood opened and the tricky clutch. Awe, memories.

  3. I don’t. But, looking at that picture in your header, I’m realizing how many years ago that must have been taken, by the wee youngins pictured there. Aren’t they huge now? That just hit me, I don’t know why. I guess that will be my mustang story for the moment. 😉

    1. Summer 2006, if you can believe it. It was taken in LA while everything was still up in the air and it was the first time there had ever been a car seat in Lucy. In the picture, they are 8, 6, and 3.

  4. Love the idea of Classic Car Therapy. That would totally work. There’s a guy around here (Baltimore) who drives a converted Ferarri that looks just like the 1960s Batmobile, in the full Batman costume. He takes it to hospitals and stuff, to cheer people up.

    I never had a cool car, but my buddy had a classic Camaro, whose stories abound in family lore. Wherever it is now, it probably still has my claw-marks on the passenger armrest

    1. Wow, a converted Ferarri Batmobile! I’m happy just thinking about it! Most of my friends that had cool cars back in the day never got them running for very long. I remember lots of time spent around cars that never moved.

  5. We are sisters under the hood! I have a 1967 Buick Skylark convertible, and I can tell you, that car gets so many looks/stares/comments and conversation from guys, it’s incredible! I was thinking about selling it but now your post made me rethink that — it’s in fabulous shape, just needs a tuneup. Okay …I’m getting it running today!

  6. No mustang stories here, but if you’d call yourself consultant instead of therapist you don’t need a license for anything! And it pays way better too! 🙂

  7. Seems like every cop over 40 would want to pull up and talk to me about my ’72 Delta 88 convertible, red, of course. I got tired of telling my passengers to “put that joint away! the cop probably wants to buy my car”.

  8. My dad bought a 1964 mustang convertible, blue. He flew out with my mom to the ford factory and drove it home. When my sister and I were kids he let us sit on the top back of the seat while he rode down our street. No seat belt laws then. We were only 4 and 5. He kept is for 4 years. I was sad when he sold it.

    1. That’s a great memory. Was it the baby blue one with the white top? I’m pretty sure seat belts were an extra option back then. I distinctly remember being in the back seat of my mom’s old Dodge and there not being any seatbelts. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. This tale warms my cold little heart. Miss Lucy could make a killing.

    I have a pretty classic 2001 Honda Civic story – does that count?

    P.S. – The DMV/inspection station out in the Jersey sticks, I discovered, is AMAZEBALLS. Nice people, no lines. Mind blown.

  10. I was conceived in the back of a Mustang. Which must have taken some serious ingenuity on the part of my parents (who were so busy being ingenious, they forgot the birth control…lucky for me!)

      1. Right?! They were both short…and very determined! Guess that helped. (I realize the reply is delayed. Lazy day=getting caught up on favorite blogs.)

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