I am about to set off on a journey, an adventure through time and space. I’m about to enter…
The car registration zone
Since this is an even year, and my car is an even year car (though it was released for sale in an odd year) to renew my registration, I must have a safety inspection and an emissions test certificate. Having to get both is a pain; however, when I received my renewal notice, I also received a form that I can use to get a certificate through the mail. That’s how astonishingly good the people here in Missouri are: they can receive your certificate request in the mail, put their noses out the window in your general direction, and tell that your car is running fine.
The safety inspectors aren’t quite so sensitive, and therefore had to take my car down and have the brakes inspected and whatever else done. Simple enough. I took the car down to my favorite auto shop and even had time for a nice frozen coffee drink while I waited.
In addition to these forms, I also need a personal property tax receipt as cars are taxed as personal property here in Missouri, and they don’t want you driving it if you haven’t paid your taxes on it. However, simple enough: pay your tax, and a receipt is mailed to you.
Now, if I was one of those people, those organized people, this would be the end of the adventure. I would take my mailed personal property tax receipt, emmissions certificate, safety inspection, and renewal form and go to the handy online site and just renew the registration. The tags would be mailed to me and I would be done.
But you know what they say: organized in code, chaotic in real life.
I paid my personal property tax late this year because I’d never had to pay personal property tax and forgot to pay it, putting the bill aside until the last minute, as usual and promptly forgetting it. When something triggered my memory about it, it was already a few weeks late and I had to pay a small late charge, and never did receive a receipt. So now I have to go down to the country government office and pick up a copy of the receipt–unless my license office has a fax machine to do this, but I don’t want to wait in line at the office just to find out if they have a fax for this.
But first though, I have to stop by the auto place and get a copy of the safety inspection, as I lost the other one. I’m not scattered – really I’m not. But it’s a small slip of paper and I put it away for safety, and now I can’t find it in the place I put it. I did find the one for last year’s registration, but I don’t think this will be that useful.
Still, this gives me an excuse to get another nice frozen coffee drink, before heading to the government office to get a copy of the property receipt before heading to the license office to get my tags to put on my car, or I’m going to get a ticket next week.
(And I just realized that there’s a sticky for the emissions test I have to put on my windshield. I have one for the safety inspection on the upper left; the emissions goes on the lower left. I imagine this is so that police who pull you over know that you’re safe and smell good.)
But at least I did not lose my emissions certificate. Or my renewal form. Or my sense of humor (due in part to treating myself to anoher frozen coffee drink and listening to the new Norah Jones CD, the latter purchased from an Amazon gift certificate–the new global currency). But the last time I went to the license office, someone who was registering their car was in a hurry and forgot to set his brake, and it rolled across the parking lot, hitting a big pickup truck that had pulled into the parking slot next to mine, thereby saving my car.
So I’m going to be relaxed about all of this government foofrah; take my time, and enjoy the experience. Not worry about my hair cut. Set my brake. And park uphill.
Well, that went nicely. No problems, no dents in the car, and no lost forms. Nice, shiny new year tags, which means I can continue to drive legally next week.
The licensing place was very quiet so I asked the woman who was helping me about the emissions certificate. She told me that I had my emissions tested through a roadside random testing known as RapidScreen. Specially equipped vans sit by the side of the road and test the emissions of cars going past. If you’ve gone past these vans at least twice in the last ten months, that qualifies you for emissions testing.
Absolutely bloody marvelous! Now this is what I call extremely user friendly technology–non-obstrusive, efficient, and minimizing the effort of those impacted. This might be old hat to some of you, but I’ve only had the car since January of 2002, and my driver’s license since 2001–I’m still at the, ‘gee, new sparkly stuff’ stage.
(When I got back home and checked my weblog, Kevin Murphy, another St. Louis weblogger who has also been taking photos at the Gardens, mentioned how the emissions testing works. And may I say, Kevin – excellent use of those new tags I suggested. )