THE BLOG
12/13/2013 01:39 pm ET Updated Feb 10, 2014

Hard Lessons at the DMV

I was trying to sell my car. I had a goal, an estimate and a walk-away point. After an hour-long drive to a buying company in wintry weather and a 30-minute inspection, my nonnegotiable appraisal was much higher than expected.

That was easy... too easy.

I wasn't counting on all this extra dough! Surely, that major accident depreciated the value! I started thinking how much would go into savings, which portion would go towards much needed furniture, maybe a New Year's getaway to boot!

As I counted my chickens before they hatched, the transaction fell to a standstill.

"Excuse me, ma'am," the employee remarked, "your title says you have over three million miles on the car."

I racked my brain and sifted through some documents and quickly came to the realization the Department of Motor Vehicles had put my driver's license number as the odometer reading. See, I pointed -- an honest mistake. However, it was a mistake nonetheless, on official letterhead.

The lady said they could accept the title anyways and throw back the number to a generic one, at a cost -- almost half the price.

Absolutely not, I thought. "No, that doesn't make sense," I replied instead.

Excitement deflated, I left determined to try to correct the error. The next morning, I waited for my number to be called at the DMV. How many hours in my life had I spent at these branches? This experience would not be perfectly pleasant nor pleasantly perfect. To make a long story short, I was told by the time I got a new title my appraisal would have expired. In my mind, I was running out of time. No cursing, but I did whisper Jesus' name (loudly) under my breath. I grew more and more frustrated and saw worker after worker when I thought I finally got to a manager. I pleaded with my eyes; wasn't there anything they could do to expedite the process?

Anyone who has taken Economics 101 has learned the concept of "opportunity cost:" the value of the alternative, in layman's terms -- what you could be doing instead. It's led me to stubbornly not sign up for movers or pay too much too late because I didn't want to wait in line for something. So here I was, head in hands, starting to regret that I had not just taken the reduced amount and run.

From a customer service perspective, I still had received no apology and said this was the case. The manager at the DMV offered one, and a temporary, gratis tag not just for five days but for six months. I hoped to have sold my car by then. He would set aside the new title with the right reading for the next day, instead of mailing it within the week.

In the following few hours, I went about my routine. I made a mental note to watch my spending until the transaction went through. No checking off the list of to-do's. Today, or the other day, was not the time I was supposed to get rid of my car. Even though I thought I waited until the last minute, I bought myself some more time.

So when the universe is trying to tell you something; listen to it. Sometimes, we get on a bumpy road. Other times, we find the parking spot that has the broken meter. Keep your sanity. There's not much use dwelling on the shoulda, woulda, coulda. Don't become so attached to the deadline, the dollar, or the numbers to the point that it cripples or controls us and mars an experience.

I have my fingers crossed for this weekend -- barring snow closures, when the weight of the black car will finally be lifted from my shoulders and maybe the change in the pocketbook will feel a lot weightier than originally thought. If not, well, try again.