Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is a thing that is called the Emissions Inspection. Before we get carried away with THAT boondoggle, what the heck is a Commonwealth? Why aren’t we a state? Oh sure, I’ve been filled to the brim with the statement that is proudly uttered by some, “There are only two Commonwealths in the United States.” I nod and try to act like I care. To clear the air, I’ve tried to come up with a definition of a Commonwealth for you:
“A Commonwealth is the exact same thing as a State except for someone mucking around with executive or legislative crap that no one really cares about.”
You are most welcome.
Anyway, Virginia has this thing in some counties called an Emissions Inspection – which is basically shoving a hose up the tailpipe of your car and making sure you aren’t spewing gasses that will melt the Earth. A car colonoscopy if you will, or car-lonoscopy if you must. This car-lonoscopy traditionally was administered by taking the car into the local gas station and having them examine it as if they really cared – and getting in return a little certificate that there were not enough ozone-killing gasses spewing for some Commonwealth attorney to care about.
I’ve been doing this for years, so imagine my surprise and delight that it was no longer necessary! Kind of. The Commonwealth of Virginia had developed a “RapidPass” system that allows you to simply drive through their ‘stations’ that they have set up on exit ramps where a computer will automatically register the vehicle, record the emissions and license plate, and then automatically send a certificate if you passed!
Here’s how it is supposed to work:
That’s right, there has been technology invented that is HELPING us and making our lives EASIER! No more waits at service stations for a car-lonoscopy! What could be more wonderful?
Here, in detail, are my three attempts at getting my Acura’s emissions inspected. The key word is eMISSions.
Valiant Attempt #1: According to the website their little station would be set up at an exit off of one direction of the interstate on to a certain exit ramp of another road. All well and good and I planned ahead to hit the exit ramp in question to get the inspection. Imagine my shock and awe when, as I drove through the appropriate exit ramp, I see the station set up on the OTHER exit ramp. Yes – they put it on the wrong exit ramp. Not a big deal you say? Please see the diagram below. Now I’m not expecting you to understand my chicken scratch, but just suffice it to say that if it had been in the CORRECT place, I would have only had to make one U-Turn. However, because of where it was, it forced me to take no less than FIVE U-turns and FIVE separate clover leafs and take over 15 minutes of detours. That’s efficiency at it’s best.
Ok, fine, so somebody made an error. However, imagine my shock (and yes, awe) when I pulled through the proper set-up station and I see two guys working on one of the green boxes. That’s right – they were out of service. I drove home in abject sadness.
Valiant Attempt #2: The next day, I head out with the Acura to a different address where RapidPass said they would be set up that day. Here’s the view I had of the station as I drove through the location:
That may be just a tad bit exaggerated, but I can guarantee you that there were just as many RapidPass stations set up on the above pictured road as there were on the road that I was currently driving on. Again, abject sadness.
Valiant Attempt #3: My final attempt with the Acura. I dutifully go to their website to see where the stations are set up. I’m greeted with this fine message from the folks at RapidPass:
Apparently, the green boxes they have to set up were really tired from their Easter weekend and had to take a day off. Abject relegation. So it’s off to the gas station for the Acura with technology succeeding only in its abject failure.
Imagine my delight, however, when in the very next day’s mail I get, drum roll please, an “Emissions Inspection Due” notice for my Dodge Truck.