Monday, August 11, 2008

A cautionary tale

Pay your parking tickets.

Lest you find yourself out for a lovely evening with your husband because your child is away at summer camp for just a few more days and you are desiring to get in just a few more dates that do not require the hiring of a child-sitter.

For, upon leaving the lovely location where you enjoyed listening to very nice people attempting karaoke and watching the Olympics – of which you have been so anticipating the swimming events – you may find, mere seconds after you pull out of the parking lot, flashing lights of the police car sort desiring to do some good ol’ policing. As you sit there, frustrated and bewildered, thinking, “What could I have done in 15 feet of driving before this police flashed his unwelcome lights?” When, while scrambling for your license and registration, you hear the reason for the policing action was one tiny burnt out headlight. So, as the policeman (he was a man) suddenly shape-shifts into a version of the Grinch, and you restrain yourself from saying, “Really? A headlight? Is that all you have to police in this town?” You hand the jolly Grinch your proper documents which state you are legally able to drive this car that you own and paid money for and have paid for every single one of the five recent $600 repairs and feel a close connection to because you have paid for it 6 times over just to keep it running, only to find none of that matters because your registration has expired, which is a cruddy law enforcement term for “your car is not actually yours anymore, it is mine and you may not drive it from this spot.” Yes, rather than say, “You’re kidding, right? Is that all you have to police in this town? Because I hear the patronizingly apologetic swagger in your voice as you say to me that you’re really sorry you have to do this, it’s your job and you simply have no other choice but to tow this car - and if you’d like you could just ‘hang out at the station’ (code for, throw you in the slammer because you are a criminal for not renewing your registration) while you sort this all out. I hear all of that Sergeant Grinch but I know that you really can just let me drive home in this car (that is mine, not yours) you just have nothing better to do!” Yes, rather than saying that, you might find yourself simply starring blankly at how easy this is for him to just laugh as though he is doing you a favor by laughing through all of this.

Next he may tell you that you may call AAA (that service you pay for in order to have someone tow you when you need it but will not come through for you when you really need it). You call AAA. They say, “Oh! Your registration has expired which means you do not own your car. Oh, no no no no NO! We cannot tow a car that is illegal and how dare you call to ask us such a thing! Do you think we are criminals, like you…you illegal car owner who does not think it important to renew your registration?” You may find yourself left with the only other option. Paying the tow truck driver $200 to tow your car 30 miles back to your house while you ride in the front with him trying to make small talk about how few cars there are on the road (doesn’t he realize it’s not very tactful to make small talk about cars when your passenger’s car is being carried from one charming town to another and not because it has broken down? Doesn’t he realize passengers might not want to make small talk about how many cars are not on the road?).

Upon arriving home and finishing up with the tow truck driver, you may pull out the ticket written by Srgt. Jolly Grinch and see that he only wrote the ticket for the expired registration and not the headlight. You may think to yourself, “How nice. I only have to pay $100 more to buy my car back from the state. How nice of that policing jolly Grinch to overlook the headlight.” Nevermind that you may have preferred a ticket for the headlight to spending 2 hours, $300 and all of the following day dealing with his generosity.

So, friends, pay your parking tickets. For, none of this would have happened had I paid that $5 parking ticket I received 18 months ago (and forgot about). Because, as the officer told me, “With all of this new technology, I could have just let you renew online and you would have been on your way, but you are even more of a criminal and cannot renew your registration because you have an unpaid parking ticket (chuckle chuckle).”


  1. It is amazing how big machine institutions can keep us from getting anywhere. parking tickets, registrations, visas, it is all so abstract... and really really frustrating.

  2. I can't believe you were going to move to Troy! I live south of Troy and love to go the Riverfront for some antiquing. I'm glad you're staying put. Where you live now sounds much more intriguing to me!


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