« Night at the Truckstop | Main | Preaching to the Choir »

January 20, 2007

Becoming a Mature, Responsible Adult

Legally, I am still a resident of Riverside. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest one is that I'm too damn lazy to constantly be filling out "change of address" forms. While I've lived at four different locations throughout Southern California in the past six years (not counting my parents' house), my parents have owned their home for more than thirty years. They aren't going anywhere (if laziness is inherited, they're probably too lazy to fill out change of address forms, too), so I figure it's way easier to keep the important documents - DMV stuff, voting stuff, etc. - going to the one place where I know I'll be able to retrieve them and won't have to worry abou the Post Office not forwarding something to me.

A side effect of this situation is that my father subsequently believes it is his right to open any piece of mail addressed to me that looks important. While it could be considered a violation of my privacy, it's actually a blessing. My dad knows I need the help. Case in point is my vehicle registration. Last year, when the DMV sent my truck's license renewal to my parents' house, my dad, of course, opened it, called me immediately, and made sure I took the forms with me after my last trip to Riverside, along with a reminder, "Don't forget to send that in!"

He should have been more forceful.

Not immediately having the $153 it would cost to renew my registration, I wrote out the check, placed it in an envelope, stamped and sealed the envelope, and placed in my desk drawer at work, with the thought that in a couple of weeks, when my bank account had the benefit of another paycheck, then I'd mail it in.

Then I promptly forget about it.

And not just forgot that it was in my desk, as opposed to it being somewhere else, but entirely forgot that such a thing even existed in my desk drawer...or anywhere else, for that matter.

Until three months later, when I got a phone call from my dad, who'd opened a letter addressed to me from the DMV, and learned that now I was delinquent with my registration renewal. He was FURIOUS. I promised to mail in the now $277 registration renewal, after convincing myself and insisting to my dad that I HAD intended to mail it in on time, but that it must still be sitting in the pile of papers next to my bed, and I'd just forgotten about it. But darndest thing, I never was able to find the forms in those piles of paper.

Because, as I discovered, EIGHT MONTHS later when I was clearing out my desk at work, having given my two-week notice at the radio station formerly known as KZLA, that that damn form had been ready to go after all, and was sitting right there in my desk drawer, just waiting for me to walk across the building and place in the mail crate. Who knew?!

With this change in job came a decision to make myself over as the girl who has her shit totally together. The weekend after Thanksgiving, I started mailing out Christmas cards...an event which, in the past, I started thinking about on December 23. Last year, many of my friends reported receiving their Christmas cards shortly after the New Year. This year, I disgusted many of them with my togetherness. My Christmas shopping was completed weeks beforehand (thank god for online shopping). I'm trying to make it a point to pay bills on time, to send "thank you" cards (and to send them promptly), and to at least put a little effort into my appearance at work - meaning the days of unbrushed hair at the workplace are over (unless I'm working on a weekend - then the "real" me takes over). It's all about the baby steps, people.

Well, last year's fiasco subsequently convinced my dad that I was COMPLETELY unable to take care of myself WHATSOEVER, and when my vehicle registration renewal arrived at the beginning of this year, it sent my dad into conniptions, because clearly, I couldn't be trusted to send ANYTHING in on time ever again. On top of that, my truck would have to get smog checked this year, too, and if I couldn't even handle the simple task of writing a check and putting it in the mail on time, surely I would be unable to drive to a smog center and have it tested, too, on top of all that. During the 36 hours that I was home at the beginning of January, my dad clearly thought I should make it a priority to take my truck to a smog center. Having enough other stuff to do, I told him I knew a good place in Burbank that could be trusted with such a task, and that if I didn't get it taken care of by the next time I was in Riverside, we could take care of it then. Thinking that I'd probably lose them, my dad volunteered, "Why don't you leave the forms with me, and then when you come back we can take care of it, then?" I had a better suggestion: "Why don't I just keep them with me, and then no matter what I decide to do, I'll have the forms with me?" He was clearly displeased with this offer, but he grudgingly accepted my logic.

It took a couple weeks longer than I'd wanted to finally make it to the smog center. The only mechanic I trust with my truck is named Fred, who works at a Shell Center on the corner of Verdugo and Hollywood Way in Burbank. He only charges $25 to change the oil in my truck, and doesn't try to sell me a bunch of extra services just because I have tits and clearly don't know any better than to take the suggestions of anyone in a pair of coveralls with grease underneath their fingernails. He's gotten more business from me than any of those yayhoos at EZ-Lube.

Unfortunately, Fred doesn't do the smog check himself, he takes it to a place just down the road. But he'd had some problems with his helper at the shop, and didn't have anyone to watch the shop while he ran down to the test-only center. He did, however, give me the card of the center, so I could theoretically take it down there myself. A few days later, when I had more time to drive all over the Valley, I took it down there, bright and early at 8am. But, oops, the guy who does the smog test wouldn't be in for another half hour and did I want to wait? Not a problem, I walked down to Lancer's, a nearby restaurant on Victory that I'm a big fan of, mostly because it's populated primarily by old people, so it's usually QUIET in there.

A couple hours later, I got a phone call from the smog center; did I know my gas cap was missing? Well, I did, but I'd planned to get that taken care of soon, too. It had only been stolen a couple of weeks ago...oddly, just before I got the notice from the DMV. The mechanic informed me that I couldn't pass the smog test without it.


Usually, the mechanic has extra gas caps for sale, but today he was out, did he mind if he went out to the auto parts store to buy one for me? NOT AT ALL. And once the new gas cap was in place, I was proud to receive the certificate saying that my truck had passed its smog test, despite the workings of some evil person who tried to screw me over by stealing my gas cap.

And on January 17, a full two weeks before my fees were due, I not only wrote out the check for the renewal, stamped and sealed the envelope, but also PLACED IT IN THE MAILBOX. No $277 late fee for me this year.

My dad says there's hope for me yet.

Posted by darlin at January 20, 2007 12:13 AM