I gave in to the temptation. For $25, I bought myself a vanity plate for my car. I called it a birthday present to myself. Finally, I was cool. All year I scooted here and there with the knowledge that all the drivers on the road behind me would be trying to figure out the meaning of my plate.
This year, with my registration reminder, came a bill for $25.00 to renew my plate. Hey! Were they trying to tell me that I have to pay $25.00 EVERY year just to KEEP my current plate?
I called up the Motor Vehicle Department to confirm and yes, as a matter of fact, that was exactly the case. I tried to reason with them. “You don’t charge people to keep random plate numbers, so what exactly am I paying for?”
“You have a custom plate ma’am,” she explained the obvious, her voice devoid of human emotion.
I persisted. “I realize that, and I already paid you to create the custom plate.” I waited, listening to the silence. “Well I don’t want to pay,” I said firmly. “What are you going to do about it, make me send it back?”
“No ma’am, we don’t want it back. You paid for it.”
“Yes, that’s exactly my point!” Now we were getting somewhere.
“But,” she continued, “if you don’t send payment, we will have to invalidate the current plate and send you a random plate number.”
“What? Are you kidding me? How much is that going to cost?”
“There is no charge for that ma’am. You pay only $2.00 for shipping.”
My brain was bursting. The response made neither rational nor business sense. “So, even if I don’t pay, I could keep the plate but I can’t use it? And the taxpayers are going to shell out for a brand new plate of the same quality so I can throw my custom plate into the landfill?”
“That’s right ma’am. You can do whatever you want with your invalid plate.”
“Well, I want to keep it on my car, so how about I pay you the $2.00 to stop breaking my chops, and as a bonus, I’ll save you the extra paperwork and the cost of materials?”
As you might imagine, my plate number is now something like FUMF435, and I’ve moved my custom plate to my front bumper.