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A Tale of My Father: The (Almost) Burning Man

26 Mar

March 26, 2018

My father was a man who had quite a lot of stories, and I can vouch that they were true. Stuck in a rioting hoard of women on Black Friday, calling Macy’s to complain about their Santa at the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or refusing to take off in a small plane from the shortest runway of an airport high on cliff, he had some interesting things to talk about. 

This one is short, and though it happened long before I was born, it could have had a dramatic impact on my life.

When he was younger, my Dad-to-be and some of his friends took a road trip. The details of when and where aren’t important and I’ve long forgotten them if I even ever knew them. I want to say they were teenagers but knowing Dad and some of his friends, they were probably in their twenties but acting like teenagers. 

So they were driving and it was getting late and they stopped for gas. One guy got out and was pumping while Dad and the others took the opportunity to stretch their legs. Well, they guy pumping the gas thought it would be a hysterically funny joke to turn the nozzle on Dad and soak him with gasoline. And another friend thought it would be even more hysterically funny to chase Dad around the car with a lit cigarette lighter. 

You can see where this is going.

Almost, almost!

Natural selection nearly took a hard left turn that night but either Dad was a faster runner back then, or his cries of “what the FUCK are you doing?” got through this friend’s thick skull and Dad escaped immolation and lived to laugh about it later.

It’s a wonder I’m here to write about this.

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I Am The Scofflaw Man

26 Oct

October 26, 2017

I got a letter from the DMV the other day. Apparently I owed some money for an unpaid parking ticket. OK, it happens. I don’t usually get parking tickets and I pay them when I do but I guess one slipped by.

The letter informed me that I had to pay it by a certain date or my registration would be suspended. Again, OK. I’ll just pay it. How much? The letter didn’t say. It directed me to a website.

I went to the website and it asked me to enter the summons number. OK, I’ll just go back to the letter and see what it says.

It said nothing, No summons number.

So the website was useless and the letter almost as bad. It had a phone number which I called and when I asked how much money I owed I was told to check the website. I told them I needed a summons number. They told me to check the previous letter they sent. I told them I did not receive a previous letter. They told me to check the website. And so it went. Whoopee.

Being unable to make a payment because I had no clue what I had to pay, I had no choice but to request a hearing. There, I figured, they could tell me what I had to pay and I’d pay it.

But that makes too much sense.

I went to the hearing, where I explained to the judge that I knew I owed money and I fully intended to pay. I explained that I couldn’t find any information anywhere from anyone about how much I owed and I was forced to request a hearing just to find out. She informed me that the purpose of the hearing was merely to discover if I had been sent the proper notices. I said I did not receive any prior notices. The representative from the state showed the judge copies of letters I never received. Since they had mailing receipts the judge ruled that I was properly served. Guilty.

But that’s fine. I got a ticket and I knew I had to pay it. That’s what I came for. So Your Honor, how much do I owe?

She didn’t know. And the state’s representative didn’t know either. He had copies of letters that he submitted to the court but very unhelpfully did not provide me any copies. But since none of those had late fines included they would be moot anyway. So I knew I had to pay, and the judge ordered me to pay, and I was ready and prepared to pay. But NO ONE COULD TELL ME HOW MUCH I HAD TO PAY.

After the hearing, which only took five minutes and I was in and out of the DMV office in less than twenty minutes, I was given a phone number of an office where they would finally be able to tell me how much I owed. This number was only available to people who had a hearing. Why I couldn’t call it weeks before is anyone’s guess. But at least I knew how much I had to pay.

It was $68.

All that nonsense because the state could not print a summons number and an amount due on their notice.

Some time back there was a bill up for vote in Congress and they were given copies of the bill, which numbered hundreds of pages, mere minutes before the vote. The Democratic leadership told them (look it up, this happened) they’d have to vote for the bill so they could find out what was in it.

I had to plead guilty to find out what I was pleading guilty to.

The system is nuts.

 

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