The PopCulteer
January 25, 2013

So it’s time to renew my car license. That should be a relatively routine task. All I have to do is gather up my insurance card and make sure that my property taxes are paid up, and I should be good to go.

You would think.

But life doesn’t always go according to script. Here’s what happened:

I called the Kanawha County Assessors office to see if my taxes were current. I was informed that I owed 2010 taxes on an Olds Cutlass. I used to own a 97 Cutlass. You may remember that, on December 6, 2008, I introduced that car to the concept of black ice, and therefore stopped owning it. I used a family member’s spare car for several months, before buying the current RudyMobile in August, 2009.

So I didn’t own a car on July 1, 2009, when the taxes are levied.

My 97 Cutlass, when I last saw it

I have filed the necessary form to let the DMV know that my 1997 Cutlass has gone to the great parking lot in the sky three times in the past four years. The DMV computer keeps telling the Assessor’s Office computer that I still own it.

So I called the DMV. Their computer tells them that I do not own a 1997 Olds Cutlass. It tells them that I own a 1977 Olds Cutlass two-door. My 97 was a four-door. I explain my situation while trying not to crack up at the absurdity of it all. I have never owned a 1977 Cutlass. In 1990, I briefly owned a 1973 Cutlass, but I got rid of that in early 1991, and never paid property taxes on it because I didn’t own it on July 1 of either year.

Really, I never had one of these

The DMV assures me that I do, in fact, own a 1977 Cutlass. They tell me how to file the form to get it off my record. In order to have this car stricken from the tax record, I need a document proving that I don’t own it.

So I drag myself up to the DMV, and after examining all the options before us, the clerk and I determine that I have to file a form stating that I have sold a car that I never owned. I do so, and am given the form. And I head off to the tax assessor’s office.

Sadly, the story does not end there. I show up with the form in hand, and discover that, the DMV still shows that I own the 1997 Cutlass, and, since yesterday apparently, I also own a 1977 Cutlass. The form I filed today proves that I sold the imaginary 1977 Cutlass in 2008, even though I never owned it, so that was easy to strike off my tax ticket.

Yeah, thanks for making me re-live the loss of a beloved car, folks.

But the 1997 Cutlass was still there. It seems that black ice, retaining walls on the interstate, a car crusher and three sets of forms filed with the DMV was not enough to erase this car from my life. It was aggravating, but I began to admire its tenacity. I was informed that I would probably need to refile that form with the DMV, co-signed by my late father, whose name was also on the title. Since Pop passed away almost ten years ago, this would prove rather difficult.

It occurred to me that my insurance company would have a record of me canceling my policy after the wreck. The clerk at the Assessor said that a letter from them would suffice, and then they could take the last remaining extraneous vehicle off of my tax ticket.

I drive to my Insurance Agent in Dunbar. Everything goes smoothly, except for a paper jam in a printer. I began to feel like I was in Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.” So I head back to the Assessor’s office, where, by the grace of God and State Farm, I finally manage to eradicate the last vestige of my previous car from existence.

I am able to make sure my property taxes are up to date, and prepare to head back to the DMV so I can renew my license for two years and avoid having to deal with this mess again next January. At this point I realize that I have left my license renewal forms at the house.

And that is why this week’s PopCulteer did not bring you its originally scheduled topic.

A Glaring Omission

A few weeks ago I ran down a list of some of the cool websites devoted to covering the arts and entertainment scenes here in West Virginia, and I left out one of the best, Spotlight WV. This is bad because the site is a great resource, and I’ve even appeared in a video for them (during Shocka Con last year). I plead dotage. Please accept my apology and go check out Spotlight WV and like their Facebook page.