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I'm a mother of 3 who started blogging as a way to share our many adventures and to expand beyond the everyday "mommy world". While there IS so much more to us mommies than the title, there is very little that doesn't in some way or another lead us back to or influence our children...if anything. So, I hope you enjoy following our family's randomness, because as all moms know- you can never anticipate what tomorrow will bring! Thanks for visiting and have a blessed day! :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy are those who persist...

for they shall receive...eventually!  After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, we FINALLY have our AR tag!  Seriously, that was WAY too complicated.  Shortly after our move, we discovered that our title was lost.  Some of you are already aware of the unpleasantness in our home associated with that.  Yes, we played the blame game.  I kept the title in the van.  Justin found it there and didn't think it wise to leave it in the van (in case someone stole the van, we shouldn't leave the title with them too.  I see his point.) so he brought it inside.  At that point, who knows what happened to it but suffice it to say that when the time came and despite our searching, neither of us knew where to find it. 

So earlier LAST YEAR, we applied for a GA replacement title.  We even paid to have it expedited.  In case you were wondering, the cost for a replacement title is $8.  The additional fee to have it expedited is $10.  And by "expedited", that means you get it (theoretically) in about 2 weeks rather than 4-6 weeks.  The only thing is, we didn't get it in 2 weeks...or 6 weeks...or even 6 months!  In retrospect, I should have been more on top of them about it but hey, life happens.  Besides that, is it too much to ask that people do their job so I don't HAVE to resort to breathing down their necks???  And people want to entrust our government with their healthcare?!  I just don't get it.  Anyway, I digress.  So, September came and having thought of it again, and finding a tiny sliver of time, I sent an email to the lady in charge asking what was taking so long.  I never received a reply.  (P.S.- Have you ever noticed how few government offices' contact information includes a direct line or an extension number to reach someone specific?  And I mean someone whose name is posted on the website with their contact information.  Many times there is either no phone number listed, or just the general number for the entire agency.  Not helpful.  In fact, it's just annoying.)

Anyway, as December approached, we decided we'd just go in person over the holidays to take care of it.  We had waited this long, what's another few weeks?  Perhaps in the meantime, the title would come in the mail before we left.  No such luck.  Right after Christmas we went to the Lowndes County office and were told that the title was in Atlanta.  Were we going to have to go there to get it??  No, she could get it to us without us having to make a trip.  Thank goodness!  Let's stop here a minute and ask the obvious questions:  Why was our title in Atlanta?  It was returned as undeliverable.  Why were we not informed?  I have no idea.  Even if it's not standard procedure to notify the applicant when there's a problem (which it should be), we paid an additional 125% of the cost to have the thing expedited!  Surely that buys you a phone call.  If this were a private business subject to competition, you are a fool if you think they wouldn't have called us to let us know.  Government.  Sheesh!

So, we continued to hold our breath anytime we drove while we were still in GA visiting.  After all, it's one thing to drive around Arkansas with expired GA tags...totally another to be in the issuing state with them.  In other words, they (GA) know what their tag is supposed to look like.  They are more likely to notice.  Praise the Lord we didn't get stopped!  Just in case we had been stopped, Justin had the clerk at the office print the screen as proof that we were doing what we could to be legal...and as proof that we actually owned the vehicle.

We had a nice long stay with family before we finally headed home.  Given the time frame, we expected to find the title in our mailbox when we returned.  Again, no such luck.  We waited another week.  Nothing.  Two weeks.  Nada.  At this point, the blame game was really taking its toll on us.  Neither one of us wanted to deal with anymore government incompetence and blaming the other for this problem served as an easy excuse to not have to be the one "in the trenches".  See what else government gives you?  Marital headaches, at best! haha

Anyway, Justin decided it was time he got involved, which thrilled me.  I was long-since over this fiasco!  He even started an Excel spreadsheet with dates and times of when he called, who he spoke with, and what they told him.  After one phone call, he'd already had enough.  Imagine being on hold, transferred to this person then that person, given a different number to call, finally thinking you've been sent to the right one and then...getting their voice mail.  He left a message requesting a call back by the end of the day.  For the third time, no such luck. 

And so the following day, it was my turn again.  Since Justin works 8-5 most days and I don't, I have more time (not really but for the sake of argument) or better yet, more availability than he does to stay on hold forever.  (Lucky me!)  I gave the lady (Vera) 24 hours from the time of Justin's call to call back before I tried again.  I had to go through all the usual prompts again, no direct number to call, of course.  (Most government offices have the worst customer service imaginable.)  Finally, I reached a living, breathing person!  I asked to speak with "Vera", the name Justin was given the day before.  Want to guess what I was told initially?  They don't have anyone who works there by that name.  They used to but she retired.  Oh, really?  Then why was Justin given this name just yesterday?  I told her that in that case, I didn't know who I should speak with but we really needed to get our title and we've been waiting for it for nearly 8 months.  She put me on hold and discovered that they do have a Vera (gasp!), just not the retiree she had in mind.  Unfortunately, she said, Vera had already left for the day but she would leave a message for me if I liked.  (Are you frustrated yet?  I was.)  In the spirit of giving someone the benefit of the doubt, perhaps her story was true.  (Her name, I found out later, is Lakisa.)  It sounds remarkable, doesn't it?  I persist in needing to speak with someone and lo and behold, our "Vera" is found?  Well, sort of.  She is just conveniently away at that time...but don't worry.  Lakisa will take a message and unlike the message that was left for Vera yesterday, she will get this one.  At the time I was thinking, "Nu-uh.  I don't think so."

So, while still being polite (and I was actually impressed with myself for how well-behaved I was and how well I kept my cool. ;-)), I simply informed her again that my husband had already left a message yesterday and to please just let Vera know that at this point one of us (me or Justin) would be calling every day until we hear from her and this is resolved.  Ya know, it's truly amazing what breathing down people's necks can accomplish, even before they are given the message.  For instance, after sharing this information with Lakisa, she suddenly became interested in going out of her way to help me.  In her defense, she was super polite and I appreciated that immensely.  I think she began to realize just how frustrating this situation was for us and hopefully appreciate how nice I was trying to be about the whole thing...or maybe she knew that she would be the one answering the phone every time one of us called and was looking to avoid that at all costs.  Whatever the reason, she looked up our application and told me that she immediately saw what the problem was.  Our request was submitted as an "instant title" (whatever that means, right?  Actually, she told me it means that it was requested in person.  I was thinking, "The second time!  But what was the hold up the first time?!") and was ready to be mailed out but was put on hold because of the way it was coded (back to the "instant" title-thing again.  Not so "instant", right?  I'm thinking they should change the name.) so it had to be approved (of course!  Why not?  Sorry.  My sarcasm is getting the best of me today.). 

Pausing now for more questions:  Well, what the heck was taking so long to have it approved??  And again, why didn't anyone contact us to let us know what was happening????  At this point, I'm ready to get off the phone so I don't ask these annoying questions.  Honestly, I could anticipate an answer that I didn't want to hear, so I let it go.  Lakisa put in a request to have it approved and mailed out (a third time for us) and gave me a confirmation number.  I'm thankful to finally have received some semblance of accountability during all this.  The following morning she called us back to say that our title was approved and would be mailed out that day.  Lakisa was, in fact, getting the job done.  Finally, things were looking up!  (By the way, we never spoke to this Vera person.  Ever.)

About one week later, I finally had the title (which had our address listed as somewhere we've never lived.  Go figure.  We decided not to pursue that mistake and just see what happened when we applied for our tag.). Before going to the tag office, I called to make sure I had all the documents I would need and was told that I should bring (among other things) a valid driver's license or my marriage license and social security card.  Well, I didn't have a valid driver's license since we no longer live in Georgia and Arkansas won't let me transfer it without my marriage license so.."Project Proof of Marriage" commenced!  I usually keep it in a picture frame, but apparently the last time I needed it, I neglected to put it back.  I went through so many boxes looking for that stupid thing (It's ok to call it that after searching for it for several hours).  Finally, I found a copy!  Still haven't found the original yet, though.  Still, I had hope that the copy would work so I called again to confirm.  Now get this- a copy can be used to get your tags, but in order to get your driver's license, you have to have the original.  Is there no end to the bureaucracy and red tape? 

Anyway, with our title, proof of insurance, a copy of my marriage license, and my social security card in hand, I went to what I thought was the revenue office.  I accidentally went to the county clerk's office and thankfully she informed me that I probably needed to go to the tax assessor's office first, so I did.  Then, I had to take the assessment to the tax collector's office to have it stamped.  Finally, I was on my way to the Tax Revenue office to get the tag.  (Why do we need to go to so many government offices just to get one stinkin' car tag??) 

I showed our title to the attendant hoping and praying that everything was in order and there would be no more problems.  Alas, luck just isn't on our side in this story.  She looked at the title and then told me that because our car was titled as "AND" instead of "OR" (meaning my and Justin's name), I would need my husband's signature as well before they could issue an AR title.  (sigh- thwarted again.)  I knew we shouldn't have put his name on that title!  ...But then again, if it's just my van, then it stands to reason that it's just my problem to keep the tags current.  Hmm..."or" is good, I guess! lol  I decided right then that I didn't want to wait until he got home to get his signature.  This has gone on long enough and I was determined that the devil was not going to get the best of me!  Not without a fight!  ;)  Besides, we have a full day planned tomorrow and I certainly didn't want this assignment carried over into next week.  I have every confidence that Justin feels the same way...possibly more so, although at this point, I doubt it.

After leaving the revenue office tag-less, I had just enough time to pick up a package at the post office and run over to Justin's office for his signature before I'd need to get the boys from school.  With Sadie in tow, we brave the bitter cold wind to get to the library.  I look around for my husband who is usually near the reference desk, particularly now that Katie (his assistant) is on maternity leave, but I don't see him anywhere.  Jennifer offers to help find him when Jeremy informs us that he just went into a meeting.  Uuuhvcourse, he did.  lol  I considered coming back later but like I said, I wanted this whole experience over as. quickly. as. possible.  (Wouldn't you?)  When the students said that Justin had told them to come and get him if something was pressing, I decided this constituted as "pressing" and I was persuaded to interrupt.  After all, I only needed his signature in two places.  He could do that in less than 15 seconds.  As I knew he would, Justin asked why he had to sign the back of the title.  Were we selling the vehicle to ourselves?  My thoughts exactly.  In the interest of time, I said I would explain later.  Just please trust me and sign it.  So, he did.  Yay!  :D

One more stop to pick up the boys and then the 4 of us were on our way back to the revenue office.  I'm so thankful that they weren't busy.  Ordinarily, I truly loathe taking all 3 of the kids on trips like this because there is usually a long wait, it's boring for even an adult to sit that long, and my 3 are all antsy.  I wanted this over so badly, though, that I was willing to suffer through that scenario if necessary.  But blessings be to God, our luck had finally come through!  No more waiting.  In fact, Jackson read the whole time we were there and wasn't finished before it was time to go.  I nearly had to pry him out of his seat to leave.  Even better news than that, because of the issues with getting the title and the need for both signatures on the back, we didn't have to pay any late fees.  When signing the back, there's a place where you have to enter the date of issue or transfer.  The attendant told me to just put today's date there.  So, score!  Finally, a happy ending to this long, belabored, exasperating, and exhausting story!  Now to put this tag on the van...(Ooh!  Maybe tomorrow.  It's so cold right now!!  I'll let Justin handle that one. I'll go grab a cup of coffee instead.  I think I've earned it. lol) :D

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