Shirley Thompson

North Shore Update

Third Time is the Charm; Or is it Highway Robbery?


            Today, I went for the third time to get the plates for my Yukon Denali.  The first time I went I was told I had to take the test for my driver’s license, pass it, apply for the license, and get the plates at that time.  I figured this was fine and went and took the test.  What happened on that day is in the story about becoming “legal” in the state of Minnesota. 

            On the second Tuesday in October I took my proper paperwork to the community center in Two Harbors to show that my name had legally changed from Barnes to Thompson.  I proved this by bringing in my marriage license.  The guy in charge of the testing looked at it and exclaimed, “It doesn’t show here that you became “Thompson.”  I was getting a bit perturbed with all of this and said to him “Now look, you asked me to bring in my marriage license, I have.  If you will notice the date of the marriage license is September 15, 1977.  We were married on September 24, 1977; you did not mention that you also needed the paper from the church; you said you wanted the MARRIAGE LICENSE and this is the MARRIAGE LICENSE.  Besides, I also brought my passport which shows the name Thompson; can’t you use that instead of the birth certificate?” His reply was, “No, I saw the Birth Certificate first and I can’t now put down you used your passport as identification?”  I looked at him and said, “No one will know that except you and me and I’m not going to tell anyone.”  He looked at me and said he would except the marriage license and checked off all the appropriate boxes on the form, handed me my completed paperwork and told me to go to the DMV to get my license and plates.

            I finally figured I had it all worked out now and happily headed over the DMV which is located in the back of the local bar.  I get there and fill out another form, get my picture taken, pay the $21.50 for the license, and she punches a hole in my Wisconsin license and hands me copies of the paperwork back.  “Don’t I get a driver’s license?” I asked.  She smiled at me and said, “You should receive it from the state in about 2 weeks. “But,” she continued, “I should warn you that they have been quite a bit behind and it may be more like two months.” For some reason I wasn’t surprised by this revelation after what I had been through already.  I was told to keep the paperwork in the glove compartment in case I’m stopped so that they can see I have applied for my license.  I agreed and told her I now needed the plates for the vehicle.  I hauled out all my paperwork and handed her the registration, my now holed WI driver’s license, and proof of my insurance.  She wanted the title.  I told her that it is a lease vehicle and GMAC holds the title.  “You will need to contact them and get a Power of Attorney from them showing you can sign for plates.”  She said.  “You have to be kidding!” I exclaimed.  “You didn’t mention that the last time I was in here.”  She was so sorry, she forgot that little detail. 

            I headed home and called my dealer and they gave me a number to call and told me that GMAC would know exactly what I needed.  I was not hopeful but found, to my dismay that they indeed did know what I needed and would mail it out to me. 

            A week later, with the newly arrived Power of Attorney in hand I again headed to the DMV to get my plates.  “Okay,” I said as I walked in the door, “Let’s try this again.”  I handed all of the proper paperwork to her and she smiled and said, “This is just what we need, I just need to look up the value of your vehicle on the computer.”  This confused me and I asked, “What for?  I can assure you I have the proper insurance to cover the worth of the vehicle if I get in an accident.”  She smiled at me and told me that the state bases their fees on the value of the vehicle.  I felt my stomach drop into my shoes; the Denali is a 2005 vehicle and not an inexpensive vehicle.  “Will I need to take out a second mortgage on my new home to pay for this?”  I asked.

            She came back and started writing numbers on the form and then started the calculator and kept putting numbers in the calculator.  Now I was sweating.  She ripped off the calculated total and said, “That will be $530.75.”  My reply was “Holy Shit!”  I couldn’t believe it.  I looked at her and said, “I paid $40.00 in Wisconsin.”  She just smiled at me (I was beginning to hate that smile) and said, “I know, our state does things differently.”  I figured that was an understatement. I grumbled and opened my purse for the checkbook. “Tell me,” I asked, “Does the state use this money to help the Vikings out?  Because,” I added, “It isn’t working and is a waste of good money if you ask me.”  I wrote out the check and handed it to her.  “Tell me,” I asked, “Do I get my own personal road crew to follow me around and fix any potholes before I drive over them?”  She laughed at me and handed me the plates.  I looked at them and said, “Shouldn’t they be gold-plated or something?”  She laughed again and I was trying my hardest not to slug her.  “Does someone come out to put them on for me?”  I asked, “If this state charges this much they could at least put the damn things on for us.”  By this time two other people had come into the DMV and thought the exchange was quite amusing (except for the Viking comment).  At least they seemed agreed with me that the prices were unfair.  Maybe I can start a grass-roots effort to get decent pricing for driver’s licenses and plates.