CA Carpool Stickers

Let me count the ways I appreciate thee. And there will be a moral to my story. Bear with me.

There is no feeling quite like driving home in my Prius in the carpool lane. By myself. I experience it every night now on my new shift, which puts me squarely into the dreadful evening commute. 

Thank you Governator Schwarzenegger and the people of California and any and every single person who had anything to do with issuing carpool stickers to encourage people to buy hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic. It totally worked on me.

To people who don't like the carpool stickers: Suck it.

I remember the trip to LA I took with The Good Doctor back in 2005. I thought the Prius was the ugliest troll car I'd ever seen, besides the 2 door Honda Insight with wheelcovers. Nothing is uglier than THAT car. I was living in Arizona at the time, planning to move back to California when my reporting contract at Fox ended in December of 2006. We were getting married, and I was going home, by hook or by crook, even if I had to leave TV news and work at BCBG. My closet would be so hot right now.

I kept telling my future husband, "That is such an ugly car. Why do I have to buy such an ugly car? I'm gonna end up with that fugly car." I knew I was going to be heading home to Bay Area traffic, possible commuter hours, and life on the 101. (Yes haters, I called it "the" 101. No, I am not from SoCal. I just call it "the" 101. I've actually had people call the station to say I called it "the" 101 and "how dare" I not know that up in Northern California we call it 101 or U.S. 101 or Highway 101 but NOT "the" 101. Yes. Same people who take the time to call a TV station to complain about the anchor's lipstick color. The the the 101!)

Anyway, fast forward to mid-2006. The reality of moving back to CA and commuter hell spurred me to buy a Prius, hoping that I would get back in time to apply for the yellow carpool lane stickers that allow hybrids to use that lane, even with just one person. It seemed like a no brainer. I HATE commuting and spending time in traffic. Some of you can do books on CD or you don't mind living out in the country where the air smells so clean and the people are nice. I just want to get from home to work and back again without extending my middle finger. 

I got here in January of 2007. Lucky for me, Arnold had issued 10K more stickers, starting January 1, 2007, because the original 75 thousand stickers were snatched up faster than Four Loko at a frat party. I just so happened to arrive back in California January 5, 2007.

My dad called the DMV for me to see if there were still any stickers to be had. The person who answered said "Nope, they're all gone." My dad was like, "Already?" DMV worker: "Yep. All 10 thousand are already gone."

I cried. I had a fugly car and no carpool stickers. 

My dad called the DMV again. This time, a non-imbecile answered the phone and told him there were, in fact, 1400 stickers left. Then she proceeded to tell him that in order to get one of those stickers, the BEST thing to do was to follow the DMV instructions EXACTLY. Get a Fastrak, fill out the carpool sticker application, and mail it to the P.O. Box in Sacramento with the 8.00 check. Don't UPS it. Don't FedEx it. Don't take it to the office in person or drive there because they won't take your information at the DMV. Just mail the application and check to that random P.O. Box and the carpool sticker fairy would take over.

I was so ready to drive to Sacramento and hand over hundreds of dollars. 8600 stickers had already been issued in 5 days. I had to get mine. But thanks to my dad's second call to the DMV, and that lovely, competent, helpful government worker, I followed the instructions to a T.

My stickers showed up two weeks later, on the same Friday that the Mercury News printed an article saying all the stickers were GONE.

*Making sign of the cross* I have saved hours of my life from the black hole of sitting in traffic thanks to that DMV angel.  

Moral to my post: always ask at least one more time if you don't get the answer you want to hear. You never know if you just got the idiot of the day who's giving you false information. 

Better yet, make your dad do it.