Remember the snow storm I wrote about here?
During one of my forays outside to shovel snow, I stopped for a rest. It happened that I was standing at the rear of my vehicle, the vehicle my late husband drove. I kept his SUV rather than my small car because it was newer and better for driving in the snow.
In Nova Scotia, our license plates are attached to the rear of our vehicles, and on them we must have a sticker with the date of expiry of the vehicle permit. As I waited for my heart rate to fall out of the imminently-exploding zone, I noticed the sticker said FEB22.
People, I had been driving illegally for over five weeks.
I tried to renew the permit online, but the plates were in my husband's name and the system would not allow it. Apparently, the death of a plate owner automatically triggers withdrawal of that plate from the system. Since deaths are registered with the government, and license plates are issued by the same government, the computerized system blocked renewal and I needed to go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in person.
I didn't realize that I wouldn't receive a renewal notice - or a notice of any kind - in the mail to warn me of this deadline. If you ask me, this is a stupid system. No one in a position to change this HAS asked me, but I would generously share my thoughts with them if they did.
Anyway, I wanted to get this issue dealt with as soon as possible and was determined to do it yesterday.
Yesterday I also had a physio appointment for my decrepit knee, plus the usual four visits to my mom to put in her eye drops.
I know this story is wandering all over the place, but bear with me.
Partway through the physio appointment I began to feel very warm and not very well and knew I was headed toward fainting if I didn't get cooled down, so I had to leave the appointment early, embarrassed and stressed out. I have fainted a few times in my life, and I've almost fainted a few more times, and when it happens it usually leaves me feeling "off" for several hours afterward, as (I suppose) my body adjusts to the stress. This time I felt even worse than usual, because I felt so alone without my husband to talk to and to check up on me.
By the time I had some juice and a nap and attended to my mom's eye drops, it was getting close to closing time at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
I was worried that I might feel faint again, I was worried that the police would stop me for my out-of-date sticker, I was worried that I would get a cranky RMV employee, and I was emotionally not all right, considering this was one more link with my husband that I would be severing. That may sound dumb, but it's the way it feels every time I have to provide information that officially affirms my husband is forever gone.
Fortunately, the young lady at the counter was extremely helpful and kind. She processed the paperwork quickly. The last thing she had to do was choose a new plate for me. She rummaged through the drawer of plates, choosing one, hesitating, then rummaged some more and came up with a different one. She showed it to me and said she picked it because it had the numbers of my husband's birth date, and was that okay or would I like a random number instead.
I felt such relief at her kindness. I don't know what, if anything, was in her background to bring her to using this method of choosing a new plate number, but I found it very comforting and thoughtful. Some folks might not, but she phrased her choice in such a way that it would have been easy to say yes or no without needing to say more. I chose "yes please!" with emotion and gratitude.
At the end of a not-great day, this young civil servant made me feel visible and cared about. Although I ended up having a good cry afterward, the world felt a little warmer and life a little more tolerable. It was a reminder that people with kindness and empathy can be of any age and found in the most unexpected places.
|Sheena at the RMV, I'll remember you.