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License and Registration, Please

I have a confession to make. I let my car's registration lapse. For two years. I'm not proud, but in my defense, Covid-19 hit just a couple of months before my registration was set to expire. At first, everything was closed, which was fine because my daily routine involved getting up at the ass-crack of dawn, going to work a twelve-hour shift, then getting back in my car and going home. That was it. I went nowhere, even after certain places started opening back up. I took no chances. I ordered my groceries and toiletries. Renewing my car's registration was just the last thing on my mind.

A year later, the vaccine is available, and people are starting to venture out. I still didn't go many places. I missed birthdays, funerals, weddings, and there were family members that I still hadn't seen in months. (Oh, hi, Dad. When did you grow a beard?) I was still having my groceries delivered.....ok, honestly, I'm still having them delivered. It's just so. freaking. AWESOME.

Then I hurt my back at work. Not only was I completely out of commission for three weeks, but I was also put on light duty from March until I finally left in July. If you're from North Carolina, and you've had anything at all to do with Worker's Compensation, you will know that "light duty" in this state means minimum wage. I have two nursing degrees, I was still doing most of the job I was hired to do (just in excruciating pain), and I was making $7.25 an hour. Sure, Worker's Comp made up for a portion of my salary, but only about 66%. After paying insurance for myself and my two children, I was seriously struggling. If it weren't for my immensely generous friends and family, I would have been homeless. Which, if you think about it, would have made having a valid registration for my car that much more important. Again.....renewing my registration was lowest on the totem pole, and when someone told me that law enforcement wasn't really paying attention to that at the moment, I took that as gospel and ran with it. For another year.

NOW it's just procrastinating. Now it's just being lazy. I admit it. It became one of those things that I knew I really needed to take care of, but at this point it was going to cost a bloody fortune and the DMV might take one look at my now almost two-year-old registration, run outside, tear my license plate off my car and yeet it into the woods at the end of the parking lot. I kept on driving, but now with my lazy eye staring constantly at the rearview mirror, praying the 5-0 doesn't run up on me.

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This weekend, I finally got my settlement from my Worker's Comp case. I had no idea I was getting ANYTHING, so this was delightful news. I could finally get caught up on all those bills that got behind when I was either out of work or only making pennies on the dollar. It also meant I now had no excuse not to get my registration taken care of. So, this afternoon, after driving out to see a patient only to have them reschedule, I decided it was the perfect time to finally toss a grenade into the black cloud that had been hanging over me for almost two years.

I drive over to the DMV thinking to myself, "Wouldn't it be ironic if I finally got nailed by the long arm of the law while actually on my way to the DMV?" Thankfully, I made it safely there, and let me tell you, I walked in that building prepared for battle. I had my registration, I had documentation of my vehicle inspection, I had proof of insurance, and I had my credit card at the ready. I steeled myself, prepared for any scenario. Here's how it went down:

"Can I help you?"

"I need to renew my registration. Here's my current registration, my inspection, and my proof of insurance." (Shoves paperwork into the unsuspecting DMV worker's face)

"You're going to need a new plate. Pick out which style you want. Is your address still the same?"

Oh, God. The one scenario I hadn't anticipated. I forgot that I had moved downstairs since this registration was issued. I'm D6, not D8!!! This is it. This is where it all ends. I am defeated.

"It's actually D6 now. I moved downstairs."

"That'll be $197.47."

Surely this can't be it. It can't possibly be this simple. Nothing in my life is this simple!! I can't even make it from the living room to the bathroom without a brush with death because the dog left his toy in the middle of the floor. Could it be? Have I pulled the wool over their eyes?! I might just get away with my dignity intact and without having to call an Uber to get home.

"Here you go. Have a great afternoon."

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!!! This goes against every previous experience I have had at the DMV. I grab my new plate, my new registration card, and make a beeline for the door before someone realizes their mistake. Not wanting to stay in the parking lot a moment longer (in case somebody catches on) but also not wanting to tempt fate, I remove the old plate and attach the new one, using my key ring as a makeshift screwdriver.

I drove away, leaving that raggedy-ass black cloud behind me, feeling the weight of two years as a renegade driver lifting off my shoulders. I still found myself checking around me to make sure there weren't any police around, then realizing I didn't have to do that anymore.

What is the lesson here? Nothing is as bad as we anticipate it will be? Life is easier if you just face head on what needs to be done? Who knows. Sadly, I probably learned nothing, and will be doing my taxes at 4:30 in the afternoon on April 15, only to find that it took less than half an hour to file.

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