April 1, 2004 - Bad Luck at the DMV
It started out an easy assignment. Ed told the dedicated staff of edhat.com that he wanted to know how long it would take at each of Santa Barbara’s DMV offices to change the registered owner of a car.
Documentation in hand, the dedicated staff headed down to the first DMV office on the list, Castillo Street. But first, a stop at a local coffee emporium for a cappuccino to go. Then, off to the DMV. When the dedicated staff arrived, the line was somewhere between “oh, this is nothing!” and “I think we’ll come back next month”. We got in line and started our stopwatches. After a while of blind staring and shifting weight from one foot to another, we noticed a California Highway Patrol officer enter the building and get into line. We didn’t know they had to wait in line. Finally, our turn arrived. We spread the paperwork out on the counter and began to explain our task. Just then, the clumsier of the two dedicated staff members, while motioning to the word “change”, whacked the still-very-hot cappuccino off of the counter and into the ample lap of the up-‘til-then friendly young man who was waiting on us. The scream that came out of his mouth was shockingly loud, and, we thought, a little uncalled for. Well, the clumsy dedicated staff member, both mortified and exasperated, leaned over the counter to help with a handful of napkins, at the same time stating that the young man shouldn’t be such a baby and it couldn’t hurt that much – it wasn’t even from McDonalds… The screaming continued. A few people back in line, the Highway Patrol officer un-holstered his weapon. It was time to leave.
The dedicated staff walked quickly and calmly to the door, accompanied by the whispers and stares of all the people still in line. At the door, a group of three non-English speaking individuals was just coming in. There followed a brief and very polite tussle and exchange of “no, after you” s in several languages. As the dedicated staff approached our trusty green car, ‘Clumsy’ chanced a peek over his shoulder. The Highway Patrol officer was just exiting the building. He was after us!
The dedicated staff quickly got into the car, and drove off. At the exit, we signaled, came to a complete stop, and turned right. The freeway onramp was just ahead. We did not dare to glance in the rearview mirror, but we knew the California Highway Patrol was behind us.
We merged onto US 101. Cautiously gaining speed, and signaling each lane change, our car reached the safe and legal speed of 65 mph. But, the highway patrol officer was on our tail. Suddenly, his lights came on, followed by a short siren burst. We panicked. Not wanting to flee, but also not wanting to endanger others on the freeway, we ignored the officers siren and kept driving at a safe and legal speed of 65 mph. Traffic was light.
By the Turnpike off-ramp, the dedicated staff of edhat.com was fully engaged in a low-speed on-the-air chase. It was OJ all over again. But, it did not last long. Somewhere just after the Winchester Canyon off ramp, with the highway patrol siren screaming full-tilt, and with the whup-whup-whup sounds of police and news helicopters overhead, a yellow light flickered to life on the dashboard of our car. The dedicated staff stared down in horror. The jig was up – we were out of gas. Darn! It is a burden to always know the cheapest gas in town because it keeps you from filling up at the more expensive places even when your tank is near empty.
Thinking quickly, the dedicated staff got out our handy clickers and began the tally. We would need jobs after prison. There were 14 highway patrol cars, containing a total of 15 officers. There were 8 Santa Barbara County Sheriff cars, carrying a total of 14 officers and 2 German Shepherd dogs. There were 2 network helicopters and an LAPD helicopter, evidently sent up on loan. There were 5 local news vans. There was a single off-white Pinto. Uh-oh. Ed drives a Pinto. The noises faded in the ears of the dedicated staff. All else but the Pinto paled into a blur. Slowly the door began to open. Ed got out. “April Fools!” he cried.
Since the dedicated staff was unable to determine the DMV wait, all contest entries were thrown into the proverbial hat for random drawing. Subscriber Linda was chosen as the winner. No fooling!
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