Moving to a new state requires obtaining a new drivers license along with re-registering your car. Generally, a necessary nuisance. When I looked into where to find the Department of Motor Vehicles in Savannah my GPS took me to a building with the letters TAG (in capital letters) Office. At the front desk I asked the woman if this is where I apply for a new driver’s license and she said no, that was across the street at an office called, “Georgia Driver Services.” That was my first clue that the terminology was different.
Having grown up in Pittsburgh I am all too familiar that some regional words do not mean the same thing. When I first moved to New York City I quickly surmised that I had to order “soda” and not “pop” when I wanted a soft drink. When I moved to New Jersey a sloppy joe was nothing like the ground hamburger meat in tomato sauce on a bun, that I was used to. (For the record, NJ sloppy joes are far superior.)
I thanked the woman for the directions and then asked her what TAG stood for. She looked perplexed. I had already worked out that it was likely the acronym for Transportation Authority of Georgia. That made sense, except for the look on her face.
“It’s TAG for the TAG on your car,” she said like I had just arrived from outer space.
“Tag?” I asked. “A tag for what?” thinking perhaps this was like our NJ inspection stickers that go in the window, or maybe this was a special tag you had to put on the car somewhere.
“Tag!” she bellowed, because that is usually what people do who are frustrated that someone does not understand them. They just repeat themselves louder. And my face told her that I still did not understand. I kept envisioning some string, like tags on clothes, hanging from the rear view mirror.
“You need a TAAAAG for your car,” she said in that highly drawn out southern put-down tone. She could not believe such an idiot stood at her desk.
Finally, a man who was calmly waiting his turn behind me, whispered over my shoulder, “It’s your license plate.”
“What?” Good grief. How simple. I have a lot to get used to.
The MATTERS plate has been (sniff) retired. I'm street legal in Georgia.