Getting the proper documentation to operate a vehicle can be a delicate dance through the red tape. When we moved back to Texas from Florida last year, we debated about what to do about our driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. We signed up with Good Sam’s after we got our RV and took several extended trips. Good Sam’s is a travel club that offers special services for frequent travelers including mail forwarding. They assign you a personal mailbox, and when you’re on the road, you have your mail forwarded to them. When you stop somewhere for a few days, you let them know where you are, and they send the mail on to you. Full time RVers use their mailbox as a permanent address. When we left Florida, our plan was to spend a lot of time on the road, so we left our registrations in Florida.
We’ve been in Texas for a year now, and things haven’t turned out exactly as we planned. The move and getting the house back into shape after two years of renter abuse was more expensive than we thought, and the price of diesel continues to climb. We took the motor home back to Florida last summer for a couple of months, but other than that, the Eagle has nested in our back yard. We still get a little mail through the forwarding service, but most of it comes directly to Texas now. Then in January, we went to the tax office to file for homestead exemption, and the clerk told us we had to have a Texas driver’s license in order to file. The exemption will represent a substantial savings, especially in a couple of months when I turn 65, so that pretty much made the decision for us. But still we procrastinated.
Time eventually runs out though. David’s birthday is Saturday, and along with getting older, his license expires. Monday he gathered the documents he thought he would need and went to town. “Town” in this case is downtown Emory, about 3 miles from us. I knew he wouldn’t be gone long, but he was back in less than 15 minutes.
“That was quick,” I said.
“They’re only open on Wednesday.”
There are some definite disadvantages to living in a small town.
“We’re leaving Wednesday to go to your mom’s,” I said, “but I guess you can go early before we leave.”
So that was the plan. This morning he kissed me good-bye and left the house shortly before 8:00, documents in hand. I busied myself getting ready to leave and was surprised when the door opened about 15 minutes later.
“The driver’s license office doesn’t open until 9:00, and the clerk told me I’d need my Social Security card and my birth certificate in addition to all the other stuff I took.”
While I continued to pack, I heard him rooting around in the office, muttering under his breath, saying some very unflattering things about the U.S. government.
“I found my Social Security card, and it says right on it Not to be used for identification! I’ll see you in a little while,” he said as he walked out the door without kissing me good-bye. I guess he wasn’t in the mood.
A few minutes later I was getting out of the shower when I thought I heard something at the other end of the house. I peeked into the living room just in time to see David stomp out of the office with a piece of paper in his hand.
“I can’t get a license until I register the car in Texas, and I can’t register the car until I get a Texas title.”
This time I didn’t even get a good-bye.
I was in the kitchen fixing a thermos of coffee and tuna sandwiches when I heard the car door slam. The front door flew open and David stormed in waving the title over his head.
“I’m whipped! I’m really whipped! You have to be there to sign the title,” he said and began to pace the floor, muttering more anti-bureaucracy epithets while I finished up in the kitchen.
We packed the car, and for the fourth time this morning, David drove into town. We went to the City Hall, signed the paperwork for the title application, and didn’t have to show any I.D. at all. While David wrote a check for the registration fee, I admired the wooden 1943 Arkansas license plate that was on display and picked up 2 “Registered Texan” temporary tattoos for my grandkids.
Now we’re on our way to Louisiana with Texas plates on the back seat of the car. We won’t put them on until we complete the next step in the bureaucratic dance, getting the car inspected. I wonder how many trips that will take.