Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Price of Vanity

Fellow Garden Staters - rejoice! Sure it seems as if we are adrift in our little balsa wood canoe careening down the rapids in a river of despair left without a paddle with which to steer our vessel and with only one life jacket for all to share. But cheer up. Cheer up for things must be better than they seem. What seems like a dark ride apparently is not so dark after all.

If things were not in fact better than they seem, then one would certainly find better uses of time and money by our Motor Vehicle Commission (we used to call the "MVC" the "DMV" but since visiting its locations was an experience akin to spending time in the "DMZ" we changed the acronym to protect the innocent......only to go on a fact-finding tour to discover that are none to save) than order the "recall" of a set of vanity plates that was issued by..........(cue the drum roll) the MVC four years ago. On second thought, forget the drum roll. Cue up this instead.

Here is the story. A woman who lives in Manville apparently felt compelled four years ago to order vanity plates for her car in an effort to express herself to the rest of the motoring public. Full disclosure compels me to admit that among my least favorite things on the planet are vanity license plates. I have no objection to those that simply identify the bearer by his or her initials - although as a man whose career choice requires me to wear dress shirts more days than not and who has not succumbed to the pretense of monogrammed shirts the rationale for driving a monogrammed vehicle eludes me. I do find the plates with the cutesy catch phrases and nicknames to be nothing short of clarion calls for attention and - likely - indicia of ever-advancing mental illness. Be that as it may, if you are willing to fork over the additional dollars to our beloved State for the privilege of having "BUTCRAC" or "SNOTTY" or "CUTIEPI" or some such nonsense bolted to your car, then be my guest.

Perhaps it is indicative of my abject lack of interest in the lives of others that it would never occur to me to contact the Motor Vehicle Commission and demand that they recall another's license plates on the grounds that I find those plates to be objectionable. Sadly, not all of my fellow residents feel the same way, which is what prompted the Special Plates Unit of the MVC (kind of like the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD except not at all) to contact Kim Romano earlier this month to tell her that her "special plates" (to be viewed by all of us - and not just those among us with "special eyes") are on the State's hit list.

Romano received a letter from the SPUMVC (look I just created my own potentially objectionable acronym!) telling her, "The commission, in processing your request, erred and assigned a combination which is considered objectionable. The commission has no alternative but to immediately recall the license plate ‘bioch.’" The basis for the MVC's reversal of field re: Romano's plates? Someone identifying him/herself as a "retired police officer" wrote to the MVC to complain about them. And the MVC, momentarily devoid of ideas as to how to poke us tax-paying residents of the Garden State in the eye with a stick, succumbed to the pressure and told Romano that her plates are no longer permitted to be used. And how might they enforce this edict? Rather effortlessly actually since the MVC is the same governmental agency that issues vehicle registrations here in New Jersey. Romano was shown some new, cool MVC math: no new plates = no new vehicle registration.

The article in the Star-Ledger mentioned Romano's choice for her new vanity plate, a privilege at this point that she will presumably have to pay another $50.00 (the cost of a set) to enjoy. I suppose that she has learned her lesson regarding "objectionable" content on her plate since she has chosen not to honor the whiny bag who outed her to the MVC, which (it bears repeating) is the same agency that authorized the "BIOCH" plates four years earlier, by asking for "DUCE" or "IL DUCE" as her new vanity tags.......

....although on second thought, license plates that others might think are paying homage to Benito Mussolini might not pass Romano's own personal definition of "objectionable".


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