Okay, that title’s a bit of a fudge, because in this case we had to do some prep work before the hour in question. I mean we could have lost $225 in much less than an hour by a merely sitting down at a roulette table, or dumping our own cash into a roaring campfire, or even carelessly letting it flutter out the open windows of a moving vehicle like that scene with Baby Face Nelson in O Brother Where Art Thou.
But that wouldn’t have made it as regrettable a story as simply losing the money out of sheer stupidity and neglect, WOULD IT NOW.
To do well in advance:
- Secure a significant other with whom you share income and expenses.
- Move together to another state and simultaneously register both your cars in one county.
- A few months later, move to a different county.
- Update your address on the Department of Motor Vehicles website.
- Stride forward confidently in life, secure in the knowledge that you are an exemplary citizen of fine upstanding fiber and unquestionable rectitude.
- Snicker a bit at the word “rectitude.” What is that, like, rectums with attitude?
- Don’t try to unravel that joke thread much further unless you want to feel regret.
To do the day before:
- Arrange for one of you, preferably your significant other, to get pulled over by a police officer who points out that hir registration expired four months ago but doesn’t ticket for it. What luck!!!
- Reflect on how neither of you ever received any sort of registration renewal notice in the mail. This must be more the DMV’s fault and less your own, right? Who can possibly be expected to, like, look at their own license plates?
- Tempt fate by driving to the grocery store completely enveloped in a blue aura of guilt. Your expired tags are surely skyscraper-sized and possibly visible from space. Two cop cars pass you on the way, but they’re going the opposite direction and with the windows up so they can’t smell your fear. You and a trunk full of groceries manage to sneak back home without spotting any flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror. What luck!!! Surely everything’s coming up biscuits and gravy for you.
To do the hour of:
- Meet your significant other to pick up lunch before heading to the DMV office on a midday errand of Mutual Suffering.
- Park on the street a couple car lengths in front of a minivan that has loitered past the 2-hour time limit and is now getting ticketed by city parking enforcement.
- Crack a joke about how dumb it would be if parking enforcement had the power to ticket for expired registration. That would be so dumb!!!
- Come back to the car with a paper bag of sandwiches to find a yellow envelope jammed in the door and tucked inside is a $75 ticket for expired registration.
- At the DMV, settle uneasily into a wide chair covered in what appears to be gray industrial carpeting and spend your wait time alternately watching two women wearing pajamas fight over a set of housekeys and a man with a bleatingly obnoxious ringtone who keeps answering his phone, frowning deeply, and hanging up again.
- When your number finally gets called, plead your case to an unsympathetic civil servant. “Registration renewal notices are third-class mail and they don’t forward third-class mail,” she informs you wearily.
- Stand patiently as the woman takes a cursory glance at your documents, then spends several minutes complaining to a coworker in the next stall about a man who insisted he only had to pay $2 for his registration. “That’ll be $71.38,” she finally announces, “Plus a $75 late fee.”
- Wince. “It coulda been worse, honey,” she says. “If you’d waited another coupla days it would have been $100. They add on another $25 every month.”
- On the way out, clutch your significant other’s arm and make big dramatic eyes at hir. “GET READY FOR A $75 LATE FEE,” you hiss.
- Gaze at your significant other unsympathetically as s/he winces.
There you have it! Three $75 fines in approximately 60 minutes! Fear our talent for losing money.