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The Mystery of the Missing License Plate

Our son got his drivers license in February, and it’s been a life-changer… for him and for us! No more getting up at 6 in the morning to get him to the bus stop (we live in the country so we have to drive to the bus stop, at least the one to get him to his school). No more driving back and forth to the airfield on weekends so he can partake in his chosen hobby. Our side-job as taxi drivers was over.

Coincidentally (or not) in February I also got a car of my own, so (counting the E-Up as half a car) we have 2-1/2 cars available for 3 drivers. That works out fine. In kind of reverse pecking order, our son usually takes our biggest car (Renault Kadjar, a compact SUV which just barely makes the grade compared to other parents’ vehicles when picking up kids from private school) since he’s usually pulling a trailer with a glider (which he organized for a few months as kind of a time-share). That’s fine, we just have to plan our trips to Ikea for days when the big car is actually here.

His Abitur exams started in April, so between and after exams he’s been driving off to gliding competitions throughout Lower Saxony for days at a time. They camp out on the airfield, and when a glider has to make a field landing someone has drive out in the field with a trailer to pick them up, so the car gets pretty dirty both inside and out. But after one particular trip the car was not only dirty, but was missing the front license plate.

Of course our son had no idea what happened. His first thought was cool, we can drive through photo radar traps without being caught! The plate was in a clip-frame, which I noticed was broken in one corner, and not knowing what kind of roads (or non-roads) he was driving I figured the plate had simply shaken loose and fallen off.

Driving a car with a missing license plate is illegal, of course, so first we had to report the missing plate to the police. The officer was quite nice, and didn’t bat an eye when I said it could have fallen off anywhere between Lüchow, Helmstedt and Porta Westfalica. We would have to apply for new plates, and a new number, since our lovingly chosen number would now be invalid for 5 years. We had a copy of the police report in the glove compartment in case we got pulled over. I even made a fake plate with Magic Marker on cardboard and taped it to the front bumper.

The car is leased, so we don’t have the original papers. They have to be sent to the DMV by the leasing company which should take 2 or 3 days but actually took 2 weeks. (After one failed trip to the DMV we found out you can call to check if the papers are in without standing in line.) But finally this week after 100€ in costs and a new frame we have a new lovingly chosen number for our Kadjar.

Meanwhile our son is busy with a 4-week internship at a local metal shop (required for his chosen college major, aerospace engineering), so we have the Kadjar for ourselves. But just the other day, my wife came home with the admission that she had dented the new license plate! But is the frame OK, I asked, since that’s how we lost the old plate! To which our son replied, I know, I broke the frame on the Kadjar back in March, but it did hold for two months after that.

Which solved the Mystery of the Missing License Plate.

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