The saga concludes… Hopefully

Published 9:53 am Friday, September 13, 2013

In mid June, I did something I had not done for several years — I bought a new, well, actually a used car. But it was new for me.

It had to be done. My old car, a Chevrolet Cavalier, was a clunker. There were serious bets on whether it would make it from Mississippi to Virginia. I decided to not take up anyone on these bets, fearing the wheels would simply detach as I was driving and plant me unprotected somewhere in the middle of the Interstate with Atlanta’s unforgiving traffic bearing down.

The ordeal was difficult, however, and I was not completely sure I wanted to give up my clunker. It had been my car for most of my adult life, and we’d gone through both good and rough times together. It even had a name — Cavin. Lastly, while the AC barely worked, the CD player didn’t work and it didn’t have power anything, it did have one excellent feature — paid off.

Despite reservations, I ultimately went through with it. But I remember seeing it there on a return trip I made to the dealership for another reason. It was sitting in the lot behind the building, not processed yet. It looked so dejected that I almost cried.

Thoughts ran through my head that no one would ever want it. It’ll sit there useless forever. Then I thought that it would surely just sit in the grass of my grandmother’s driveway until it rusted if I were to buy it back — so I let it go. Hopefully Cavin has found a good home.

Now I have a new car, a 2012 Ford Focus that so far I have not named. No complaints about the car itself, but there was a long saga with the dealership.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t easily able to drive off the lot with the car. That part was easy after a long day of forms and then more forms. I put the key in the ignition and drove off like normal.

The problem came with the title and getting the thing licensed from 15 hours away. In an earlier article, I mentioned that I was going to tag it in Virginia. I almost got away with it, too.

You see, after buying the car, I knew I was going to have to drive to Virginia without getting it tagged because they wouldn’t have had enough time to send out the information and get it processed before I started working at The Tidewater News.

But I knew I had to go back to my hometown in late July for my sister’s wedding. Surely more than a month would have been long enough?

It was! The information had just arrived at the tax assessor’s office in Adams County, I learned while I was driving down that Friday. I stayed a day late on Monday, taking an additional day off from work before my vacation days kicked in to get it taken care of.

I arrived bright and early, expecting to pay the hefty tax, a fee for being late in getting the car tagged and then hitting the road with a fresh Mississippi tag.

But hey, I’ve been wrong before. The dealership had shipped the title information to the tax assessor and failed to sign it over to me. There was not even an initial.

Knowing that my arrival in Franklin would be 2 a.m. if I left at that moment, I didn’t have time to delay an hour driving to the dealership, much less fighting with them, so I hit the road. I figured this might be a mixed blessing, as by this point I figured it would be better for me to become an official Virginia resident.

However, talking to the dealership later, that wasn’t possible. The tax money I paid with my loan had already gone to Mississippi, even though I didn’t have a tag or hope for getting one anytime soon. I would have to pay the tax again in Virginia and be out more than $1,000. It couldn’t be transferred. Or so I was told.

Oh well. All they have to do is sign it and send it back to Adams County. I’ll sign over right of attorney to my mom, and I’ll have my tag in a week or two.

August rolled by with no news. My anger dulls as the days go by, as it slowly fades into humor. Instead of being mad, I was now laughing about the runaround and lies from the dealership.

In the second week of September, however, news finally rolls in that the information has been received at the tax office. I would pay the fee, a heftier penalty and I’d finally have a tag, three months after I bought the car.

It was mailed to me Tuesday. I expect to have the tag and to place it on my car today, thus concluding Episode I of the saga.

Episode II? Getting the dealership to pay the late fee. The saga continues.

CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. When you see the Mississippi tag, just picture it as a Virginia tag, as that was the intent! He can be reached at