I should create a category on my blog for ‘only in Saipan’ things. This, as I believe I have mentioned before, is a common phrase uttered amongst us Saipan-folk.
Today, I had one of those experiences.
Vehicle registration (or doing anything officially here) always seems to have one or two extra steps. I knew this and had some time to kill this morning (aka, I had work to do but wanted to procrastinate and do something mind numbing and that did not involve much thinking).
So, I needed to renew my car registration (actually, I was overdue and something about the new year made me feel like being an upstanding citizen). First step – visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s here. This is the same as the United States except a lot smaller and there is no ‘take your number’ — you just sit in line along the wall. There’s the same windows where the customer service representatives slowly do one thing at a time. God help those people – they have a hard job!
But… they are slow. See this movie trailer for a good laugh.
(P.S. I initially saw this trailer before The Force Awakens.. the movie theater is open again!!! and with new seats! It opened in time for Star Wars and I saw it on the 4th day it was playing — and I was one of TWO people there. I guess everyone who wanted to see it desperately in Saipan already saw it!)
Okay, moving on…
I approached the desk when I was up and asked for my registration renewal. ‘Okay great, return after you pay at the court and get your car inspected.’ I expected this so duely went off to … pay my dues. I went to the court which fortunately is basically next door, went thru security and then went into the payment section where I waited in line to pay with my check. (FYI, do not use an off island check, no credit/debit cards accepted, and they do not give change if you only had cash… yes, only in Saipan. In the States, I bet they practically take anything including apple pay or something ridiculous where you pay off scanning a barcode tattooed on your body .. just kidding!). Of course, they needed my license plate number to type into the receipt so I provided that.
I then drove off to the nearest vehicle inspection place. As I pulled up and rolled down my window to tell them I was interested in a vehicle inspection, they said — your car is practically brand new! Just park there. So, I parked there, paid my fee and got my inspection paperwork stamped and drove away. Notice anything missing? haha, well I’m sure my car would have passed anyway but, only in Saipan.
I drove BACK to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and fell back into the queue for my vehicle renewal. They took all my paperwork and began processing it. This is where it got fun.
‘Miss, do you own a second car?’ ‘No, I don’t’ ‘Are you sure you don’t have a car in Tinian’ (i.e. the next island over). ‘No, I don’t’ ‘Sure?’
Why were they asking this question?? Because apparently there is another car in Tinian with my SAME LICENSE PLATE NUMBER. Okay, first of all, how is that possible? Secondly, why would you ask me if I had another car on another island with the SAME LICENSE PLATE NUMBER.. even if I had another car on another island, wouldn’t it have a different license plate number? I could only smile.
So, they decided the best thing to do would be do give me new license plates. Remember above when I had to go to the court to give my payment? Well yeah, I had to go back to get the receipt from my payment changed to reflect my new license plate number. Also, I had to go to my car dealer to obtain their copy of the seller’s documents with the license plate number on it and they had to redo my ownership document for the car. At the car dealer, they nicely replaced my plates for me (because I did not have a screwdriver on me in the car! Who knew I needed one?!) and then I returned my old plates to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Oh yeah, and then I drove to my insurance company to get them to print me a new car insurance card with my new license plate number on it.
Whew! Only in Saipan will you go thru all of this. Why did I have the same license plate number as someone else? No idea. That information is lost in the Marianas Trench somewhere and no one will ever know.
For now, I have a shiny new set of plates (and new plate covers courtesy of my car dealer). Now all I have to do is get my really dirty car washed and everything will look brand new!
Some recent pictures for your viewing pleasure…
(Sunset on December 30th from American Memorial Park Beach)
The view from Suicide Cliff at sunset mid-hike this past weekend.