Illegal Truck, Part One

My husband’s truck is backed into the driveway with expired tags. This is the first time we’ve ever had expired tags on a vehicle and we are a little paranoid. Kinda like the first time you are pulled over with a dime bag hidden in your center console and you’ve been speeding, but you’re not high, and you keep fidgeting and not making eye contact with the cop while he lectures you on the importance of safety. Then he asks for your registration and for a second you wonder if the dime bag, that you bought for a friend, is actually in your center console, or did you put it in your glove box? Cause you weren’t going that far anyway. I mean, you just have to make it to your friend’s birthday party across town so you can surprise her with the dime bag, and you can both laugh and laugh cause it’s been so long, and then she can roll the joint, and then all fifteen of your closest pals gather around nervously to smoke it, even though you are all well into your 20s now and this sort of thing doesn’t suit you. And if you did put it in your glove box, is it going to fall out when you open it for your registration? Oh no! Oh, whew! It’s not in your glove box.

Let me back up.

My husband’s truck tags expired in the state of North Carolina in June. We moved to Georgia on April 1st, so we decided to wait to switch tags until May since we clearly had the time. I know, I know, you’re supposed to do it within in 30 days. Does anyone actually do that? Anyway, being the good citizens we are (cough) we started looking up what we needed at the beginning of May. First we had to switch our DLs to Georgia. Well I did mine rather quickly because I needed a Georgia DL to get a library card. Also the state of Georgia makes it super easy to get your DL. You do a bunch of pre-registration online, then you show up with your old DL, your passport, and your land deed or lease agreement and boom! Twenty minutes later I was walking out the door with my new DL. So I assumed the car tags would be the same.

First Jerimiah needed to get his DL which is a bit more difficult since he travels a bunch for work, and when he is in town he is at his office from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, which is of course when the DL Office is open. He finally got it done, however, mid-May. Next step was tags. So Jerimiah looked up online what we needed. According to what he read we were missing only one thing: an emissions test. But, wouldn’t you know it, since we had moved into the state his check engine light came on. So, because of the schedule above, I had to take care of the emissions test.

First I go to the parts store to have them run the code. (I’m sorry about the car talk, when you’re married to a car guy and your son wants to be an automotive engineer when he grows up, you pick up a few things you wish you hadn’t.) So they run the code, which just means they can tell me what is triggering the check engine light. Jerimiah had already warned me that it was probably the gas cap. That is what set it off last year too. In any event, I was to buy any part they said I’d need.

The first thing she said was the gas cap. Le sigh. So I bought a new one, and asked her how long I should drive before the light goes off (if your check engine light is on you will not pass an emissions test, FYI). She said 10 miles. For the record, this is very, very wrong. Follow along. So I drove the truck 15 miles and it didn’t go off. I went back and bought the second part on the list which was the Vapor Canister Purge Valve and I went home.

That night Jerimiah and Jackson basically took his truck apart in the driveway to get to the part and still could not. He was frustrated, I was worried, and Jackson was covered in grease, which he totes loved. When I turned the truck on the check engine light was off! Hooray! Except, it was only off because Jerimiah had pulled out the battery to get to the part, which reset the electronic system. This was May 21st, which is important because that meant I still had to get the truck to pass an emissions test, but quickly because we were driving it to Missouri for Memorial Day Weekend that Friday.

So Jerimiah tells me that I probably need to drive it more to see if the light comes back on. I do not heed his advice and go right to the testing place the next morning. I’m on a strict schedule. The truck fails. The inspector tells me I have to drive it like 70 miles in order for the engine to go through all the cycles it needs to go through, which is eight in case you are just really, really interested in this. So, I drive it 70 miles. It fails again. This time right as the inspection place closes. I will have to try again the next day.

Damn it, this is gonna have to be a two-parter. Sorry, y’all. But we all need a breather soon.

So, the next day I pass and run over to the tag office in Decatur. I get there with all my paperwork in a folder and I am met with a policeman at the front door who tells me that this location is closed for Memorial Day. I say, Whaaaa?! Where do I go? He tells me every one of them in the state is closed because maintenance, holiday, blah, blah, blah. I’m pissed. I get into my car and call Jerimiah. I just know that he will flip out and validate all my feelings at this point.

You are not going to believe this… I pause to build suspense. They are closed until the 28th!

Silence for a moment, then…

Oh, yeah, that’s right.