The Devil in the Details Can Bite You in the Butt!
So, followers of my scribblings will note how I've covered in minute detail all the necessary 1000 and One things to do with our Grand Tour. Except one. I made the mistake of "assuming." You know about "assume?" Makes an Ass of U and Me? Yeah. What's that other phrase, "For want of a nail..." Yeah.
Yasee, shipping a car abroad requires the actual Title. What we call here a "Pink Slip." Only, they aren't pink anymore, and aren't used to keep one's kilt from scratching. It proves you actually own the car. It's important. I knew EXACTLY where it was. Manila folder, marked "Triumph TR3" in my dad's handwriting. It dates to 1969, when I bought the car (remember that date, it will be important later). Marianne is a GREAT Filer of Things. Really organized. So, of course, instead of checking that I had the title, THE most important document, and one that, if lost, usually takes WEEKS to get from the DMV, was gone. Nowhere to be found. Nada. Zip!
We turned the house upside down. Searched everything and everywhere. No such luck. Called AAA. No, they couldn't help, BUT, they told me DMV has an expedited service for a mere $15 extra. OK, found it, 8-10 days. Cool. Down load the form, fill it out, go to post office, overnight it (with a promise of Tues by 3:40). And wait. And Wait. AND WAIT!
Finally, I check USPS tracking. It was not delivered until Wed. 6/8 (REFUND!). Sigh. So I wait. Some 11 days from receipt I called the DMV. And amazingly, got a very nice lady who took the info, was horrified (esp as I told her it could cost me thousands of $$ in extra fees!). She at first said, "well, the website isn't actually telling the truth. It can take 8-10 days after they pull it off the pile! I'm not happy (but, surprisingly, in a nice way). "Can I get you my supervisor?" That's never a good sign when THEY offer the supervisor. The supervisor, ALSO a very nice lady tries calling the appropriate department. No one answers. WTF! So, she gets my info and promises a phone call, probably Friday!!! I push a bit saying that might be too late. I DID get a call on Thurs. whew. This lady was also very nice. She gets all the info (by this time I can tell her that a 'J. Freidman' signed for it) and she says she'll call me back. Hour or so later, she does. THEY CAN'T FIND IT!!!! IT'S LOST!!!! My heart is racing and my BP is about to burst a vessel. "So now what?" "Well, send us another form and check". "NO, that's not acceptable. I HAVE to have the title." "Let me talk to my manager...OK, can you fax me a copy?" "Of course (this IS 1990 isn't it? DMV needs to upgrade from their Commodore 64 computers!). "And write up a 'statement of facts' and we will waive the fee." So, off to Staples. I fax the stuff, return and call. Meanwhile the gal I was talking to has left for the day, but she referred me to her coworker. Great. I ask for her. "She's at lunch...oh wait, she just walked in." First thing that's gone my way. She gets the fax, and asks me to fax a shipping label to overnight it. "Can I email you a pdf?" "Oh, ok," So I hunt around the UPS, etc, sites, can't find how to do that, and BINGO! I call Tina at Autobooks!!!! She does one up, emails it to me, I forward it on. Then I call. Desiree has my paper work done, and checks. Hey Presto, the label is there. She sends it out, I got it Saturday! Shipper is happy, he has a Model A and a Harley (yeah I know what Jones will say) ready to go. So, 8:00AM we'll have the TR at the shipper in Gardena.
And, as the Infomercial says, "BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!".
Monday we drove down to Gardena, signed papers, showed 'em how to start it up, all that good stuff. With a bit of a sniff, we bid the Blue Meanie adieu. With great relief we drove back home. To a ringing phone. It's the shipper. THE VIN ON THE CAR AND THE VIN I'VE HAD ON THE PAPERWORK SINCE (OK, class, what's the answer?) 1969 DO NOT MATCH.
If I thought I'd felt a heart attack coming on before, it was nothing like this. Thank GOD for a loving wife! Marianne calmed me down. A bit. Called my buddy Bill. He suggested, "Hey doesn't Moss Motors sell new VIN plates?" Why, yes they do! "So, go up there, get one and a set of metal stamps and..." I call Moss and of course they're out of them.
Chest tightening again, I call my Sacramento Angel Desiree. "Oh, no problem. Take the car to a DMV office, have them do a verification, and send it and the title back to me. I'll take care of you." AMAZING! We all use the DMV as the poster child for bureaucratic inefficiency and sloth. All the people I dealt with prove that to be a big fat lie!
So, in a tight chested adrenaline filled frenzy, we drive BACK to Gardena, get the TR, drive it to a DMV office in Hawthorne, a mere 3 miles away (!!!), get it checked, bring the car back to the shipper, then back home to print out a new form, off to FedEx (not trusting the USPS this time), and get it overnighted to Desiree.
It got there Tuesday morning. I called Angel Desiree to alert her. She called back to tell me she'd finished the changes, verified the VIN, and then popped the stuff back in the return overnight mailer. Sure enough, it got here Wednesday morning. BACK to Gardena, and my contact at the shipper was of course out to lunch. So we got to talk to his supervisor. He's yer man, Damian, and he's from Dublin! Had a nice chat where he told us to visit McDaid's Pub, on Harry St., just off of Grafton St. "Tell 'em to put yer pints on me tab..."
So, the moral of this long and painful story? GET YOUR DAMN PAPERWORK IN ORDER AS SOON AS YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING TO UNDERTAKE A MAJOR TRIP. ALL OF IT. ESPECIALLY THE PAPERWORK YOU "KNOW "YOU HAVE AND "KNOW" EXACTLY WHERE IT IS.
And yes, Desiree's supervisor got a letter extolling her actions. She was a gem and saved our trip!
The other person I have to laud, is Christian, at Schumacher Cargo Logistics, in Gardena. He's been calm, helpful, supportive, and knowledgeable throughout this entire process. If you need large stuff shipped, HE IS DA MAN! He's getting a bottle of the good stuff, not just a letter!