Years ago, I bought my first car while I was still in the Navy. It turned out to be the lemon of all lemons. It was a used Triumph TR-7; “The Shape Of Things To Come.” It broke down an hour after I bought it. It never ran 99% of the time I owned it………however, for that one percent when it did, it was the greatest, and most fun car I ever drove. I went to register it when I was home in Rhode Island on shore leave. Shortly before I left for the registry, I told my friend “Gus” where I was headed. He told me to call him back in 5 minutes. I called him back, and he told me he “knows this guy” at the DMV. It “seemed abusive,” but it’s tough to register a car out to sea on a Navy Ship, and shore leave was extremely valuable. He tells me to go to room 115 instead of waiting in the line for Hell; a common reference for all DMV’s. On a side note, on a recently cancelled TV show “Reaper”, the DMV is used as a portal to return escaped souls back to Hell. A clerk at the DMV explains it like this; any place on earth that seems like hell; probably is.
I walk into room 115 and there is a single desk, and a woman with her head down writing. Being 20, and having never been to the DMV to register a car, never mind the “top-secret office,” I say “excuse me, I’m here to get a registration for my car.” The woman’s head snaps up and she starts yelling at me; “hey you, go stand over against that wall, keep quiet, and wait until I call your name for your turn!” I’m not sure what was worse, the ass-chewing, or the smirk on the faces of the 6 men I suddenly noticed in the office…….stinking like car salesmen; which I realized they were, and that this was the express office for the auto dealerships. 5 minutes pass, and I am “shrinking from embarrassment,” and on the verge of running out of the office and going to take my chances at registration “over in Hell.” The woman looks over at me and says “You; what’s your name?” I tell her. One pregnant pause, and she screams out “oh my God, come over here dear. I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize sweetie! You just got back from Beirut, Lebanon and you’re on the way back there this week…….I’m so sorry for the confusion!” Once again, I had no idea what to think. It’s true, I was in Beirut but that was a year ago, and though I was headed back to my home port in New Jersey, it was not Beirut………and then I remembered; my friend Gus. He must have embellished the truth…… slightly. “Here Dear; sign here, and here. I’ll do this quick, and get you on your way.” The salesmen were giving me the evil eyes. I’m not sure what I signed, or what plates I got. I was so relieved to be making any progress, I thanked the woman, and hustled out as she was screaming “good luck, and stay safe dear!”
Not believing my good fortune, and speedy venture through the DMV, I ran down the front stairs toward the street. Hoping that I had enough distance to not get called back, I paused and open the envelope containing the plates, and pulled them out. There it was; blue letters and a white background in between Rhode Island and Ocean state, my first car registration designation; ZD-45.
I ran all the way back to my car with a smile on my face, and a prayer in my heart hoping it would start.