Tuesday, April 25, 2023


I rocked back and forth on my heels as we waited patiently behind the red line admonishing patrons against having cellphones beyond the Plexiglas barriers. Not allowed, the sign said. Please forward all documentation via email or texts to the Tag agency at the following e-address. No passing cellphones through the time/space portal of the translucent barrier that separates the world of the unknowing masses from the masters of the universe. If you want to transfer your driver's license or register your car, the all-knowing beings on the other side of the Plexiglas are indeed the undisputed masters of the universe.

Kind ones at least, in Clarke County, Georgia, home of the National Champion College football team, the University of Georgia Bulldogs. My wife and had I decided to relocate to Athens, Georgia, and the first, mandatory actions were to transfer our driver's license and automobile registration.

The three county employees on the other side of the Plexiglas were very busy as our diverse group patiently waited for our turns. One of the patiently waiting was a tall, slender young Sikh wearing a dastar. The four other county representatives were apparently still at lunch, causing the line to extend beyond the entrance alcove and out the front door of the only automobile tag office in the entire county.

I listened intently as the patron in front of me turned dejectedly to leave. He stopped and said back over his shoulder, "In Florida, our proof of insurance cards suffice to get our cars registered, but apparently not here in Georgia.”

“No sir,” the young lady on the other side of the transparent, dimensional separator. “Here you need the binder from your insurance company to register the car. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to return with the proper insurance document. Next!”

My wife and I looked at each other and slowly approached the bureaucratic sanctuary, fully aware we didn’t have the proper insurance binder either. All we had was the same proof of insurance card required in Florida that all car owners have.

“Hello,” I said as I pushed the wad of paper work through the access slot, “If this keeps up, there won’t be anyone left in Florida. We’ve recently moved here as well. Have you seen many of us moving up here.”

The young clerk looked up, her face mask covering her face but not her dancing, expressive eyes.

“Yes, It’s becoming more and more common, let me see if all this is in order.”

She dutifully read the old Florida title and registration, then carefully looked over our brand new, temporary Georgia driver’s licenses, and began typing furiously on her computer keyboard. She glanced up and said, “I can issue the new title, but not the registration. You’ll need the insurance binder from your insurer as well. Sorry, but I can only do so much with incomplete documentation. She slipped a blue stick-em note with the amount $504.14 back to me and said, “This is the Ad Valorem tax required to transfer the title.”

We thanked her, and headed immediately to the nearest insurance agency that issued our policy. After an hour and a half of travel, introductions and explanations, we headed back to the county tag agency.

The counter positions were all staffed and there was no waiting, and as luck would have it, the next open clerk was the pleasant young woman we had earlier.

“Welcome back! All set?” she asked.

“We hope so,” I said as I pushed the newly acquired paper work through the trans-dimensional portal.

She laughed, keyed a few lines and held up two different style license plates we could choose from. Ilse made an artistic selection and after a twenty dollar bill disappeared into the void of government coffers, we received our new Georgia license plate.

As we traded pleasantries to say our goodbyes, I turned and stepped on the biggest shoe I have ever seen. The bright yellow color startled me as much as his huge black ears.

“I’m terribly sorry,” I said, “I didn’t see you behind me!”

“Gosh!” he said in his instantly familiar high-pitched voice, “That’s all right! I sure hope they take my insurance card! I’ve heard it’s different up here.”

We looked back several times as the Magic Kingdom icon stood on his tip toes to see over the counter. We could tell he was listening to the same instructions we received as his ears began to slowly fold down,”

“Maybe they are moving to Atlanta.” my wife said. “It would serve DeSantis right.”