Sunday, January 5, 2014

Purchasing My First Car, Extended Edition

All right, use your best Rod Roddy voice and say it with me: "Here's your NEW car!"

I recently purchased my first car. (Frau Doktor will need it to get back and forth from the hospital while she's working on becoming Frau Doktor Doctor.) My in-laws' neighbor's elderly aunt, a retired real estate agent, was finally willing to part with her cute little 4-door. We did the deal while visiting over Thanksgiving while. That's me freezing my butt off to get a photo right afterward. It was a triumphant moment, but I should have known that something was up when we got home and the second garage door wouldn't open on account of the cold...

That week, Dear Husband and I made a date to go to the DMV and then start decorating for Christmas. We showed up with our loan paperwork, insurance paperwork, and a couple of screwdrivers to change out the plates. "Crap," says the clerk. "What?" we reply, wondering what we forgot. The notary at the aunt's nursing home had misdated his signature on the original title as "2014" instead of "2013." Unless he sent a letter explaining his mistake, the car wasn't mine until the following November!

While I fume at having to return to the DMV for someone else's mistake, DH calls his parents for the neighbors' phone numbers. They don't answer. He calls his mother, who explains to my FIL what the problem is. FIL calls the neighbors, who pick up. They then call the nursing home, which explains the notary is in a meeting, but they take a message that includes the DMV's fax number. "Have him call us when he sends the fax," I insist, unwilling to sit in the DMV all day while Christmas preparations await.

Over the weekend DH talks and even emails with the notary about how best to get the necessary letter. Status uncertain, he calls the nursing home early in the week, but snow has slowed everyone down. Then a stomach bug lays DH low, and I'm more concerned about shoveling half a foot of snow and hosting a party than trying to track down this letter. The garage-door repairman has never shown up.

The next week, I call and text the notary. Nothing. I call our DMV five times before someone picks up. No, they haven't seen the notary's fax. Then we receive word the notary has left the nursing home for another job and is unreachable! A nursing home manager gets involved, until legal counsel tells her the company takes no responsibility for his notary business on the side. The county notary office has out-of-date contact information for him, and the Secretary of State will accept no responsibility either. Basically, a notary is an independent agent of the state, and if s/he dates an official document incorrectly and then goes AWOL, you're sh*t out of luck!

car coasters I got for Christmas
"for the car you don't own yet"!
I call our DMV again. Someone acts like he might have seen a fax but cannot find it. ::cough:: He tells me a certified letter from the seller/power of attorney attesting to the legality of the sale would be acceptable. By now we have one working day before Christmas Eve, and I am afraid there is a penalty for not transferring the title within thirty days. But the banker seems unconcerned, and the DMV website has no deadlines, so we decide to get the letter over Christmas. Meanwhile, my in-laws' neighbor's elderly aunt falls and nearly breaks a hip, and then her step-mother passes away. While wondering if we have to apply for a new original title and do this all over again, we leave the new car at home and drive the old one to the airport--just in case.

Finally, on the first day the DMV is open again after the holidays I show up with the loan paperwork, insurance paperwork, certified letter, power of attorney form, and a couple of screwdrivers. Problem #1: DH has to sign the documents. Problem #2: the system is down on account of the new calendar year, and can we come back later. Are you kidding me? I take some paper forms, meet DH for breakfast, fill out one of the forms incorrectly, and finally we just rendezvous back at the DMV. The system is up and running, all of the paperwork is correct, and would I just pay the state some money? YES! Yes, I will! Tell me how much, and I will write the check. We swap out the plates and drive home at last.

Guess who sent me an email when I got home? The nursing home manager, relaying a message from the notary that he had in fact faxed a letter to our DMV and would be happy to do so again...      ::cough cough::

A few days after that, DH intercepted a phone call from a relative of the seller's...who had somehow managed to shred the check from the bank. Thank goodness we did not have to re-apply for the loan, but DH did have to sign an affidavit that the check had been destroyed, get a new check, and send it to them. Thankfully, this did not impact our ownership of the car, just their ability to get paid. Friends and strangers all assure me that purchasing a car is not usually this difficult!

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