Bad Advice, Very Good Lunch, Not a Very Good Book (2 cents)

Let’s talk about my experience at Jim Coleman Toyota. Three years ago, we signed a 36 month lease for a 2007 Prius. When the lease expired, we decided to buy the car. The transaction was fairly painless. After giving my check, the dealer told me that Jim Coleman would get my new license plate, registration and window sticker, that they would put temporary 60 day plates on the car, and that I should take my old plates and drop them off at the DC DMV (which is standard practice here).

Temporary plates are good for 60 days, which meant in our case until next Monday, July 19.

Time passed, and I heard nothing. I was ready to call Jim Coleman and ask about the status, when I received last week in the mail a new registration card and window sticker, but nothing was said about the license plates. I called Jim Coleman and was told by the receptionist that I should keep using my old plates (the ones I had been told to turn in). I talked to the man who handled our transaction and was told that the receptionist was wrong (“how could she tell you something like that”?, were his words), and that he would check and call me back.

This was Monday. He did call me back, and left me a voice mail message: he told me that the plates would be at Coleman in a day or two, and I should call back and ask for “Pam”.

I spoke with Pam today. She told me that the receptionist had been right, that the District now did not change plates or registration information when a car went from lease to purchase. “I’ve told the people that here. I can’t count the number of times.”, she said.

Well, OK. Luckily, I am lazy enough not to have taken the old plates to the DMV, and tomorrow I will put them on the car. And the new registration and window sticker I received last week? They are identical to, clones of, the ones I already have.

Then why did I need the temporary plates and need to get new stickers? Not clear to me, but to Pam, it is clear as clear can be: when you bought the car, it was no longer ours and the DMV had not yet received notice of or recognized your ownership. So, you had to take off the old plates, put on the temporary plates, and then restore the old plates when you got word from the District.

So, that’s what I am doing. Hope this is really what I am supposed to do, and I won’t have a problem next year when it is time to extend the registration.

Speaking of lunch, I ate at Divan, a Turkish restaurant in Glover Park, on Wisconsin Avenue. I had driven past it many times, but knew nothing about it, not even that it was Turkish. I had a ground lamb kofte on rice, served with green beans and carrots, and a small salad. It was absolutely first class. Unless you want fish (they had only swordfish), this is the place to go.

The book? “Harp” by John Gregory Dunne, a sort of jumpy memoir about his Irish parents and grandparents, how he goes about writing, his own health issues, his Army service in Germany, and a couple of other things. The biggest advantage is that I could read it very quickly, but I don’t think it to be a very good book.

It certainly didn’t make me like him, or particularly respect him. (He’s not living any longer, but probably wouldn’t care.) After he died, in 2003, his widow, Joan Didion wrote a book about the first year without him, “The Year of Magical Thinking”. It was a best seller and award winner. I read it at the time, and didn’t like it either, and didn’t get a good feeling for her. At least my reactions to the two books were consistent.

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