(ARCH)ON The Road Again

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WARNING, Long involved DMV bureaucratic rant.
Proceed at your own boredom.

After almost 30 years, my ARCHON vanity plates, first acquired here, are back on the road.  The wife and I bought our last car.  It’s actually a rice-burning, Kia Sorento SUV, which sits high enough that the semi-disabled wife and daughter don’t have to fight to get down into, and up out of.  Properly maintained, it should last 10/15 years, perhaps longer than us.  In any case, the next one’s up to son Shimoniac to buy.

This is the first NEW car we’ve owned in almost 50 years of marriage. We purchased two that were less than a year old, taking advantage of the 30% depreciation in value, but were still new enough to be reliable.

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For years, we’ve had the wife’s 3 TEASE plates on our cars, because they were registered in her name, and we’d been told by the DMV that that was necessary. It was all a Lie.

I’ve used the term, ‘DMV’ mostly for my American readers. Here in Ontario, we have the oxymoronically named “Service Ontario.”  That’s where you have to go, for aggravation, incompetence, poverty, hunting and fishing licenses, drivers’ licenses, licence plates, birth certificates, and certified ID cards for people like the daughter, LadyRyl, who can’t drive.

After the heart-stopping negotiation of financing this beast, yea, verily, unto the second and third generations, the first problem came when we had the salesman (try to) put my old plates on my new car.

I gave him my old plates, along with the plate ownership form, and the transfer form. The last sticker was applied in 1987.  When we went back the next day to pick the car up, he handed me back my plates (but not the two forms), and said that the licence bureau wouldn’t let him use my plates because they were registered in the wrong name. We had to take generic plates, and arrange to apply the ARCHON plates ourselves.

A couple of weeks later, we were ready to try. The first thing that the user-(un)friendly Service Ontario did, was ensure that the relatively handy, downtown branch, only 4.2 Km away, DIDN’T PROVIDE AUTO-LICENCE SERVICE.  Instead, we got to drive 9.7 Km to a branch on the other side of town.  We chose a quiet Wednesday afternoon, when the lineup was only 45 minutes long.

The first time we went, we exchanged the generic plates for the old ARCHON plates.  Having a brand-new car, the wife wondered, for a niggling fee of $93.20, if I’d like a brand-new set of plates.  It seems a good idea, except….new plates are no longer paint, baked onto steel.  They are now printed plastic, laminated on, and there have been many cases of them delaminating, costing drivers $55 to replace faulty Chinese manufacturing.  We’ll see how these ones last.

Six weeks later, my new set arrived by mail, and off we set once more, to surrender the old set, and validate the new ones. The clerk picked up each set, and found she had to struggle with the old ones.  They weighed twice what the new ones do.  She’d never seen a set that old.  She wondered why we’d gone from generic to vanity, and then to a new set.

The female branch manager was sitting at the next service wicket, and overheard our conversation. Every time I described what happened, or what I was told, she shook her head.  I explained how I was not allowed to put my plates on a car registered to the wife.  ‘No, you can do that.’ (With the proper, paid-for form)

I bitched that I wasn’t allowed to transfer the ownership of the plates to the wife, without surrendering them to the Provincial Government. ‘No, you don’t have to surrender them.  You can transfer them to your wife.’  (With the proper, paid-for form)  My clerk looked up, surprised.  “They’re registered in your wife’s name now.”  Wait, what??!  After telling me that they couldn’t do it, they changed the plate registration – but didn’t tell me they had??  And we paid to buy the wife her own set, and mine languished for decades??!  So that explains the dealer’s problem. I can’t put her plates on my car.  ‘No, no, I told you that they should have done that.  (With the proper, paid-for forms)

So we transferred plate ownership back to me – for $20. Then the clerk wanted to know where the plate ownership and vehicle transfer forms were.  “I gave them to the dealer, and I never got them back.  I assume that the clerk at the office that they use, kept them.”  Manager is shaking her head again.  ‘They should have been returned.  We’ll have to generate new ones.’

The clerk then charged me $20 to use information that’s already on their computer, to print out an ownership form, and another $20 for the same computer information to print a transfer form, for their own paper files.  The plate licence expires on my birthday, late in September.  Should we renew for just one year – or two??  The manager piped up, ‘The yearly fee is increasing from $100/year, to $120/year, starting September 1.  Why don’t you pre-pay for three years and save?’

I begin to understand why Canada has such restrictions on gun ownership. Do any of you have bureaucratic duel stories (shorter than this) that you want to share??   😯

Read My Ass

It used to be said that, “Vanity, thy name is woman.” but, nowadays, when it comes to specialty licence plates, “Vanity, thy name is Legion!”  Vanity plates are everywhere; everything from obvious, easily understood letter/number combinations, to stuff that just has you shaking your head, wondering what he’s smoking, or where he parked the spaceship.

Many years ago, when the children were small, we owned a small Honda Civic station-wagon.  When I got steady, although not great-paying, employment at the shoe factory in 1983, Ontario offered custom plates.  At first only 6 spaces were allowed.  I splurged, and spent $100 for a set.  They read, surprisingly, “ARCHON.”  They’re a lot more expensive these days.  Someone told me they’d seen another pair, “just like yours”, which is impossible.  I finally located them.  Ed Arconovitch, who worked day shift at the same plant, got a set which read, “ARCON.”

I moved to the auto plant at a better salary, and the wife went back to work.  First we bought her brother’s 10-year-old Chevy Monte Carlo for her commute, then I felt I could afford a used motorcycle.  The Civic sat unused for 9/10 months a year, eating insurance, while I rode the bike, so I took my vanity plates off, and sold it.

When we traded up to a better car for the wife and kids, I tried to put my custom plates on it….and bureaucracy struck.  The car was in her name – but the plates were in mine.  We could transfer the car to my name – and pay a 15% tax on the book value.  I could sell her my custom plates!  Oh, no says the DMV, the plates must be surrendered and offered to people who have put in a request for that particular set.  Screw that!  I put them in a bag under my work bench, and the son can turn them in for a refund after I die.

After a couple of years’ gainful employment for both of us, the wife got her own set which read, ”3 TEASE.”  It might mean, “Terrible Tori the Terror,” from her childhood, or it might mean, “Terribly Terrific Tori.”  It might just be the third time we’ve messed with your mind!

I knew, when I went to get my plates, that the DMV could be a little suspicious, and had my story of, Why Archon? carefully rehearsed.  Sure enough, the middle-aged matron wanted to know all about it, to prevent evil from entering our streets.  Even as I was drawing breath to defend my unique personal expression, the much-younger male manager piped up, “That’s from the original Star Trek episode, Return of the Archons.”  I’d been hauling the handle around for 15 years before that episode was broadcast but, if it gets me my plates with no hassle, “Yeah!  That’s right!”

My neighbor, Tom, owned a Buick 88, and applied for TOMS 88.  Ontario plates were three letters and three numbers, like ABC 123, and you couldn’t get those combinations.  The DMV clerk told him that the O of TOMS was a zero; therefore he couldn’t have his choice.  I told him to appeal, but he didn’t want to fight city hall.

There are two kinds of bureaucrats; the one will find a rule to deny whatever you request; the other will dig through the rulebook to find you the exception you need.  Sadly, the first type outnumber the second, a hundred to one ~ or maybe a thousand to one.  In an ongoing campaign to prove their importance and power, Ontario DMV clerks continue to deny thousands of applications.  Custom plates are now up from six spaces, to eight.

Custom plates may not be obscene, derogatory or racist.  They may not refer to drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, criminal activity, law enforcement, public figures, politics or religion.  Nearly a third of the 3315 rejected applications in the last three years, have been refused on the criterion of “clarity and readability.”

If I’m a nihilist, who just wants a random collection of letters and numbers which no-one else has, I don’t see how or why it’s any of the government’s business.  The government, being the government, makes it their business.  Everything is forbidden, unless they specifically allow it.  This rather nebulous category has eliminated such seemingly clear and readable requests as HO5ER, A.BATMAN, 2THF4IRY, and ST4RG4ZER.

Predictably, the second and third most-censored categories were plates that referred to religion and sex.  DMONSEED and LUC1F3R were deemed too evil.  NIHILIST and AGNOSTIC were too honest, and JAWS2GOD and APOKLPSE just too unthinkable.

No doubt drug dealers were disappointed when plates such as GOTSPEED, B.JUICED, ILOVCOKE, and SPD4WEED were rejected.  Government clerks will seize any opportunity to flex their bureaucratic muscle, even reversing previous decisions.

In 2007, United Church Rev. Joanne Sorrill became a political cause célèbre, after the Ministry refused to renew her, “REV JO” plate, because, it claimed, “rev” could encourage unsafe driving, and because Rev is an alcoholic cooler-type beverage.  I’m surprised it wasn’t rejected on the “No Religion” rule, but the clerk was probably a Christian.  It took a newspaper humiliation campaign before the Provincial Premier personally authorized the renewal.  He called the Ministry’s behavior, “laughable.”

The Ministry issued a statement, saying, “This is a difficult job, being done by sincere people, but it is an imperfect science.”  They went on to say that employees use resources such as Wikipedia and UrbanDictionary.

I’ve got mine, even if I don’t use them, and I see lots of others around.  A beautifully rebuilt 1947 Ford Business Coupe, at the downtown summer Cruise Night had a pair which read, B DRULN.  Do any of you have vanity plates?  How much did you pay?  Have you seen some amusing or confusing ones?

Horace

Once upon a time, there was a horse named Horace.  Even when he was a young colt, he had a beautiful, long, flowing mane.  As he grew, he became prouder and prouder of his mane, and let it grow and grow, until it reached almost to the ground.

He combed it and washed it and brushed it, until it just shone in the sun, but one day, a terrible thing happened.  A homeless family of birds flew up and saw his wonderful long mane and decided that it would be the perfect place to make a home.

Horace tried to tell them to leave, but they didn’t pay any attention to him; in fact, they even went and told their relatives about the magnificent place they had found to live.  Soon, Horace’s mane was full of cheeping, tweeting birds.

Horace finally could stand it no longer, and went to a veterinarian to see if there was any way that he could rid himself of all these noisy birds.  The veterinarian told him that the only way that he could think of to get the bird out of Horace’s mane would be to take a large amount of dry yeast and rub it all through his mane.

The smell of the yeast would be a bit objectionable for a while, but the birds would not be able to stand it, and would move out and stay out.  In a week or so, Horace would be able to comb out the yeast, and things would be as they were before.  Horace did this.  He got the yeast.  He rubbed it in.  The birds left, and stayed away.

The moral of this story (if there is one) is: Yeast is yeast and nest is nest, but never the mane shall tweet….

As Monty Python used to say;

And Now, For Something Completely Different

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Michael Richards better known as Kramer from TVs Seinfeld does make a good point. This was his defense speech in court after making racial comments in his comedy act. He makes some very interesting points…

Someone finally said it. How many are actually paying attention to this?
There are African-Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, etc.
And then there are just Americans.. You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction.
You call me ‘White boy,’ ‘Cracker,’ ‘Honkey,’ ‘Whitey,’ ‘Caveman’… And that’s OK…
But if I call you, Nigger, Kike, Towel head, Sand-nigger, Camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink … You call me a racist.
You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you….
So why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live?
You have the United Negro College Fund. You have Martin Luther King Day.
You have Black History Month.
You have Cesar Chavez Day.
You have Yom Hashoah.
You have Ma’uled Al-Nabi.
You have the NAACP.
You have BET….
If we had WET (White Entertainment Television), we’d be racists.
If we had a White Pride Day, you would call us racists.
If we had White History Month, we’d be racists.
If we had any organization for only whites to ‘advance’ OUR lives, we’d be racists.
We have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Black Chamber of Commerce, and then we just have the plain Chamber of Commerce.
Wonder who pays for that??
A white woman could not be in the Miss Black American pageant, but any color can be in the Miss America pageant.
If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships… You know we’d be racists.
There are over 60 openly proclaimed Black Colleges in the US ..
Yet if there were ‘White colleges’, that would be a racist college.
In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights.
If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists.
You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you’re not afraid to announce it.
But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.
You rob us, car jack us, and shoot at us.
But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society, you call him a racist.
I am proud…… But you call me a racist.
Why is it that only whites can be racists??
There is nothing improper about this e-mail..
Let’s see which of you are proud enough to send it on.
I sadly don’t think many will.
That’s why we have LOST most of OUR RIGHTS in this country.
We won’t stand up for ourselves!
BE PROUD TO BE WHITE!
It’s not a crime YET…. But getting very close!
It is estimated that ONLY 5% of those reaching this point in this e-mail, will pass it on.
I DID!!