Target finally paid me on Tuesday, and I was utterly delighted. I was now about $400 richer. I began having fantasies of not dipping into my savings to pay for my student loan, and also, getting my car registered in North Carolina. Delighted, James and I went and ran errands. He wanted to buy some fabric so we could have a proper surface for our mini-games, X-Wing and Pirates. We took care of my errands first, because they were administrative and thus time-sensitive.
Both James and the bank teller said that they paid about $120 to get their car registered, so I kept $120 in cash from my paycheck and put the rest into my bank account. Then James and I drove to the nearest North Carolina Title and License Plate location.
There was a line, not surprisingly, but fortunately my line was shortest. I got in line while James sat in a chair.
I stood in line.
I stood in line some more.
I had already been on my feet working for eight hours and I think I stood there in one spot for what felt like 45 minutes. Finally I was called up. I had all my paperwork ready in-hand. The woman immediately began processing. Then she said, “That will be $199.”
“199?” I repeated.
“199.” The woman looked absolutely bored.
“I have 120 in cash,” I said. “Can I pay the rest in debit?”
“That will be an additional $5.”
I handed over the cash and my debit card. The woman looked at my cash, and then glared at me. “What is this extra $3 for?”
“That’s all the cash in my wallet,” I said. “I wanted to put as little on the debit card as possible.”
“But why,” she said, “Is there three dollars?”
I said, slowly, “I’m giving you one hundred and twenty-three dollars.”
She sighed and tapped at the computer some more and then put all of my cash in a little drawer. Then she shoved a license plate and a letter from NCDOT into my hands.
I decided to speak up. “All the people I talked to said that it would be around $120. I asked a lot of people. Why did it come out so expensive?”
She sighed. “We base your rate on the value of the car. If it seems like a bigger liability then we charge more.”
I processed for a second, and then said, “You charge more for cheaper cars?”
I stumbled back to James, who looked up from his phone and saw immediately that I was close to tears.
“Are you okay?”
I’m not sure what I said. I was more interested in leaving the building. We walked back to the car and James drove us to JoAnn’s Fabrics. Then he turned off the car and looked at me. “Are you okay? Do you feel up to going inside?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want to go home?”
James drove us home. I made grilled cheese and tomato soup for myself. After I ate, James recommended that we play a game. We tried out Kamisado, which James won handily at twice. Then we finally played Pirates, which I had been pushing for a month for us to play. James again won.
Normally I wouldn’t have been bothered by losing constantly, especially at a game like Pirates. Pirates is one of those journey-not-the-destination games. He ran my biggest ship derelict; normally I would have been narrating the plight of my poor pirates and laughing and suggesting that he sink my derelict ship. But my mood was so sour that it just made everything worse. After we cleaned up the game, I picked up my Cicero biography and lay on the bed and read. James came in and checked on me, but other than that, I spent the evening reading. It was probably the best part of the day.