Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Cars

My car is mine, I think.

After several years of diligently writing checks to a bank that neither influenced my decision over what car to buy nor had any part in the actual purchase process other than to be a name on a form, I received a letter in the mail the other day saying that I no longer had to do that. My car loan, in other words, had been paid off.

This is good news. That’s several hundred dollars a month that I can now turn toward other things, such as tequila and gold-plated appliances. Or, more likely, toward other bills, health-care expenses no longer covered now that Governor Teabagger has declared war on us state employees, college funds for the girls (the great irony of being a professor is that it is a singularly inappropriate career if you actually want to be able to afford to send your kids to college someday), and perhaps the occasional dinner out in a place that does not require you to unwrap your food. Hey – every little bit helps.

I suppose I could start putting that money aside for the next car too. Neither of the kinds of cars we own are manufactured anymore – we’re brand-killers, yes we are – so who knows how long they’ll be supported and fixable. But they’re good cars and both paid off now, and we’re going to hang on to them as long as we possibly can.

So I went to the DMV this morning to clear the bank off the title. The bank had sent me a letter telling me to do that. Since they hadn’t sent me the actual title, I figured the state must have it.

The state disagreed. They said I have it.

No, I said, that’s kind of the whole point of me coming here – to get it, which implies not having it in the first place.

There was a brief stand-off.

You never win those stand-offs. The DMV people are far better at them than you will ever be. They do this for a living. They eat noobs like you for lunch and pick their teeth with your bones.

So my next mission will be to figure out where the actual title of the car may be hiding. It’s mine, now, and I would like to take it home and feed it and pet it and love it and call it “George.”

In the meantime I’m riding around in limbo, which is actually kind of a nice feeling since I am convinced that this means nobody can see me and I can do whatever I want in my own car which is mine and not the bank’s and all mine, mine, mine.

Yes, this is what I will tell the nice police officer when he asks.

I’m sure he’s been to the DMV himself a time or two, and will understand.


Tom said...

Congrats! The same thing happened to me 2 months ago. And the bank was in interest rate and a name on the loan papers, like yours, too.

The bank has the title. They have to sign that the lien is cleared. Then they send it to you. It took several weeks after the reception of the paid-off loan papers for the title to make it to me. I'm sure the process is similar for your state.

It was $500 a month for me. You'd think that would mean I now have $1000 more to spend. You'd think, but you might be wrong. Where does that green stuff go?

Patience will stand you in good sted in the matter of the title. It will come.

David said...

Hey Tom - guess what came in the mail a few hours later?

Would have been nice if the bank had said something about it last week when I called to confirm all this.

I think there is a universal law that says extra cash will be met by new and/or unexpected expenses. That's where the green stuff goes. ;)

Megan said...

You're rich! Congratulations!

The secret now is to NEVER buy another car. Keep it going with repairs as long as humanly possible.

John the Scientist said...

Megan, there comes a time when repairs are more expensive than payments, usually around 200,000 miles. (The first car I ever drove had 300,000 miles on it when I started driving it in 1985 - it was a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500).

For me, the threat of being stranded pushes the trade-in point back to around 120,000 miles, though if the timing belt needs replacing at 100,000 I might consider it then. My current car does not have much mileage on it, and as it's my first Volvo, I may keep it a bit longer than usual to see how it stands up. It's a 2001 S60, and I've onyl got about 70K on it (2 years in storage while we were in Japan cut down on the verage mileage.)

David said...

John, it also depends on what kind of miles you've got, city miles being much tougher on cars than highway miles.

We've got two older cars - a 2000 Saturn with 130k on it and a 2007 Pontiac with 70k - I do a lot of driving, commuting to various campuses. They're both in good shape, though you can see the Saturn is sliding down that one way road to the scrap heap. But the longer we can avoid that, the happier we will be.

Because you know the next step is a minivan...

Beatrice Desper said...

You think the girls will want to borrow a minivan? Nada. And no, it ain't so far away.

Mike said...

Remember not to drink your several hundred bucks worth of tequila while driving your car, either. Some police officers do not understand why it's cool.