Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Against the wind

There are seasons in your life when you feel palpable resistance. A lot of resistance. What was simple so many times before, now becomes suddenly complicated. Easy, mindless actions require more thought and planning than you would have believed possible. People who supported you are nowhere to be found, or worse yet have had a change of heart; decisions that would have been made in a heartbeat now flutter around in your mind like moths near a dim light, endless quandaries to be painfully pondered, situations that have grown so many sides it seems you've gained a couple of new dimensions in your mind.

That's pretty much where I am these days. If I were the kind of person who posted pictures of myself, I'd find one where my eyes are squeezed shut tightly, lips pressed together to keep out the dust, hair whipped frenziedly in all directions, because that's the sort of resistance I've been encountering of late. From the universe, some would say. From Satan, I believe. But there it is. Against the wind.

The most recent example? My car keys don't work reliably anymore. The car is old but still good, and without warning, my car keys, BOTH of them, have decided they no longer hold the necessary information to start the car when inserted into the ignition. I have jiggled, wiggled, and sworn at the keys, to no avail. They go neatly into the ignition, and then they mock me by refusing to turn. I turn the steering wheel with increasing force, wiggle the keys more roughly, and sweat breaks out on my brow... Nothing. And then, usually, after a couple of long-suffering minutes (with my child witnessing all this madness from the back seat), then the car starts. And we're fine.

The solution? Hopefully, a newly created key, etched from its source file instead of copied from the weary keys in my purse, will do the trick. No guarantee, of course; something called "tumblers" could also be the problem, I was told by a mechanic. But we are required by common sense and thriftiness (since lock replacement is far more expensive than a new key) to try the cheap key replacement method first.

Except, remember, I'm moving against the wind. Because I am a slacker, and I never got around to it, I have never changed my name officially with the people who issue car registrations. My correct married name is on my driver's license, on my car insurance, and I've repeatedly written the corrected name each time I've renewed the registration... but the people in PennDOT never changed it, nor did they tell me that they required a copy of my marriage license in order to do so.

And to get the key re-cut, from the car records, any dealer requires that your registration name and the name on your license match exactly. EVEN IF YOU HAVE EVERY DRIVER'S LICENSE EVER ISSUED TO YOU, AND BOTH YOUR OLD AND CURRENT SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS, AND THE *!@?&% TITLE OF THE CAR BECAUSE OH, BY THE WAY, YOU'RE THE ONLY OWNER. And did you know that every blasted PA Department of Motor Vehicles is closed on Mondays? I know that, NOW. I remembered it as soon as I'd sweated and sworn my feeble key into action at the cursed dealer's garage, and then driven my angry self to the DMV to beg for an updated registration. Which I found out, yesterday, would not have been possible anyway. AAA was kind enough to help me, but apparently because we live in an archaic state, Pennsylvania processes all name changes only through Harrisburg, the old-fashioned way.

I called AAA today, after almost getting stranded at the grocery store. Could they at least plead my case? Could anything be done? We're afraid to go anywhere. I have a little son. It's summer. We don't want to be stuck in the grocery store parking lot, cursing the melting ice cream. We have a perfectly good car! We have every document known to man EXCEPT the bloody registration with a perfect name match! Our lives and safety are in jeopardy here, people! (Dramatic music rising in the background)

Can AAA help us? No. Sorry. Does PennDOT care? No. I called them, too. Could they please do it quickly? Process it ASAP? Make a note on my file? No, no, and no. They're not allowed. They get 4 days to process it once it's in their hands. Getting it back to me via good ol' U.S.P.S. snail mail can take up to 10 days. That's 10 business days, mind you. Remember how many holidays these people get?

So, this is just one little example of the forces that have worked against me lately. I never dreamed that getting a replacement key would cause such stress, duress, and fury. And the other thought that's coming to me again and again is that this is such a small matter, really. I honestly don't have any right to get really upset. People all over the world are truly suffering, the economy is staggering and tripping its way further into a malodorous cesspool of debt, there are natural disasters and helicopters crashing and sickness and poverty and drought... I truly have no right to complain. I know that.

Okay, I'm done now. No more self-pity. The key issue will get resolved in time, although not my time. And these are all small issues in the big picture.

Thanks, Lord, that we haven't really been stranded yet. Thank you that this is the biggest problem on my mind right now.

P.S. Can you help us out with this key madness, Lord? Please?


chris h. said...

Geez -- what can you say to that except "Sorry!" What an annoying problem, compounded by bureaucracy. I would have thought PennDOT would be more "e" about all that, since they let you do so many things online (that involve giving them your money).

Mel said...

hey, Chris--thanks for your sympathy. no, PennDOT has to do name changes at the home office, and they have to see real, live docs to enact the change. I guess the security is a good thing, but when I had every document necessary to make the change, and had been the only owner, it seemed a bit ridic. my new trick is parking the car in neutral, with emer. brake on--then the key never goes into lock position. (smug smile here) now, if I have to park on a big hill? trouble...

B. Troup said...

In reading your registration adventure, I had to pause and remember my own adventures in the world of frustration. Hang in there! It will get done.. slowly perhaps, but you can do it. I too, looked below and said a few choice words to the enemy for intervining in my life. But I believe payback is key. Hey satan, you mess with me, I mess with you. Who's up for giving to the poor, getting closer to God, and spreading the gospel? That would be me.

Mel said...

Thanks for stopping, B. Troup! And you're right, I'll go sing church songs at the top of my lungs--that usually gets me back on track. : )

You'll all be happy to know that the new key worked; the car starts like a champ again. Expensive lock replacement avoided.