Thursday, July 09, 2009

Nothing Done

Sometime last week I glanced over my calendar and noticed that the car registration was due in a few days. Lily was so kind as to take care of what appeared to be the bulk of the heavy lifting: Getting the car smogged. Passed. Even got a discount for living nearby. The seemingly easy part was mine: Taking the paperwork to our friendly local AAA office to renew during my lunch break. I mean, why waste your life in the lines at the DMV when you can go to AAA and get it done lickety split?

I punched in the address for the Santa Monica office on my phone, and let the GPS take me there. I drove around the block and didn't see any AAA signage, so I assumed they were in some heavily populated office building, and I parked my car at a broken meter with a 99 cent store bag over it. Lucky me. I soon discovered that I wasn't so lucky, because I had incorrectly typed in the address to the building, so I was on the 2300 block instead of the 2700 block like I was supposed to be. I decided I'd do the un-LA thing and actually walk a few blocks instead of re-parking the car. Plus I didn't want to slap a gift-broken-meter in the mouth and forever ruin my parking karma.

Walking past McDonald's and Carls Jr, I was reminded that I hadn't eaten my lunch yet on my lunch break. Soon I arrived at a two-story building with lots of AAA signage on it, and I tried to walk in through the door facing the sidewalk. But I was greeted with a very-LA sign informing me that the only entrance is connected to the parking lot, where's there's lots of free parking for AAA patrons and no need for broken meters with 99 cent store bags over them. Lucky me. I walked in through the parking lot entrance and saw that there was no line. A woman waved me over to her station, and I told her I wanted to renew my registration. She informed me that the computers had been down since last Thursday (how the hell was I supposed to know that) and that I'd have to go to another office, which wasn't in walking distance from this office.

"Does that office have a parking lot?" I asked.
"Yes, there's underground parking" she replied.
"Are their computers up and running" I asked.
"Yes, they are." she replied.

I walked back to my car and past the fast-food joints again, which reminded me that my lunch hour was quickly evaporating. So when I got back to my car, I inhaled my lunch while listening to the radio of alternating stories about (a) Why the Dodgers will win the World Series this year, and (b) If recently murdered QB Steve McNair's character is ruined because he was still married and not divorced when he was found with the also-shot-to-death woman he was apparently dating. The entire time listening I regretted the fact that I should have asked the woman at AAA if the other office would be open during normal business hours.

I parked in the underground lot at AAA in West LA, and walking into this office I couldn't help but notice that there were about 10 times as many people waiting as the last office. But the line moved quickly and soon I was at the counter noticing the sign embedded in the counter that said "DMV CHARGES ARE CASH OR CHECK ONLY. NO CREDIT CARDS!" That's knowledge I could have used when I walked in. I recalled that I had about two bucks in cash in my wallet and I don't carry a checkbook anymore, but I decided to proceed anyway.

I told the AAA employee that I wanted to renew my vehicle, but I didn't have the proper forms, I only had the smog certification. She asked for the old registration, and I didn't have that either. But the smog form had the VIN on it, so we were good to go. The woman slid a clipboard with some paperwork across the desk, and she said "Our computers are halfway working today, so it might be a while." This news of course was not what I wanted to hear, and because I already spent a decent portion of my lunch hour going to the other AAA office, I wasn't about to wait to see how the computers fared. So I told her I'd just go to the DMV (How much worse could it be at the DMV?)

Muttering obscenities all the way to the car, I had about 5 minutes left in my lunch break. I wanted to get at least one thing completed during the errand run, so I drove toward the nearest branch of my bank to deposit a check. And as I turned the corner I couldn't help but notice the huge construction vehicle blocking and tearing up the entryway into the bank parking lot, and the construction worker holding a "slow" sign waving me down the street. The nearest street parking was probably the same length as my first walk from the broken meter to the first AAA building, so I decided to save it for another day. Besides, my lunch hour was up and I had to get some work done back at the office.

My work computer acted slow for the rest of the afternoon until finally the server crashed. Some days are more productive than others, I suppose. Lucky me.