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P.I. Work Isn’t All Glamour

20 Nov

November 20, 2017

As my fictional detective Hollywood Russell would be the first to tell you, being an investigator is not as glamorous or dramatic as the movies make it out to be. There is a lot of drudge work and a lot of striking out and getting no results. But like any other job, there are silly, funny things that happen when you least expect it. Take this story, which actually happened to me last week.

My partner and I were in Queens checking out a witness. We were interviewing a hotel manager who was called by the police to provide the video from the hotel security cameras. There was an accidental (it seems) death and it may have been recorded. For the insurance company, we needed a statement. It was provided and we wrapped it up. Cut and dry.

My partner wanted to grab a snack. He’s been on the job for over two decades and it seems that one perk of longevity on this job is knowing every place to eat in the city. So we went to a small diner he knew on Roosevelt Ave and 111th street. I may be a rookie at this game but when it comes to eating out, my instincts have him beat.

The first thing I noticed, aside from the fact that it was dark and dingy, was that the Department of Health rating was “Grade Pending.” Now while I would not normally go into a place without an A rating that wasn’t a deal-breaker for my partner. Hey, it wasn’t shut down, right? That must mean no one has died from their food. (Recently.)

I’m not saying this is the place we went to but yeah, this is the place we went to. Notice that they USED TO HAVE an A rating.

So I wasn’t going to order any food and I figured the best way to stay out of the hospital was to just order a can of soda. It arrived and with it was a glass and a straw. No ice in the glass, just a plastic glass. So what was the point? I picked it up and I didn’t need to hold it up to the light to see that it was dirty. OK, I’m going to drink this straight out of the can. And I’m not going to use the straw either. The waitress did that thing where your straw has already been unwrapped and only the top inch is still on. Why do places do that? Is it classy? I don’t know but this place clearly did not care about class. Class to me is giving a clean glass. And since the straw was unwrapped and touching the dirty plastic that was no longer an option. I wiped the top of the can and drank it that way. But this was simple compared to my partner’s order.

ME: Just a can of Coke.
PARTNER: I’ll have a cup of tea with lemon and a toasted bagel with butter.
WAITRESS: OK, that’s a can of Coca-Cola and a toasted bagel and butter.
PARTNER: Don’t forget my drink.
WAITRESS: Do you want a can of Coca-Cola too?
PARTNER: I asked for a tea with lemon.
WAITRESS: No Coca-Cola?

A couple of minutes later the waitress came back and told him they had no lemon and no regular tea, just green tea or ginger. He took green. That came not in a dirty tea cup but in a paper takeout container so he was probably safe as long as nothing was floating on top.

Right after the tea came she brought over his bagel with butter. It had a big hunk of sausage on it. And not like a breakfast sausage or patty, it looked like a half of a bratwurst stuck between the slices. He looked at me and I looked at him. I had no sympathy. I never would walked into this place to begin with.

My partner called over the waitress (“Hey! Hey!”) and told her he didn’t order any meat on his sandwich. This confused her.

WAITRESS: You don’t want?
PARTNER: Meat. You put meat on it. I didn’t want meat.
WAITRESS: You don’t want?
PARTNER: No, you put meat on it.

I don’t want to give the impression that my partner is not a good communicator but he was definitely not getting his point across.

ME: All he wants is a bagel and butter. Nothing else on it. Bagel. Butter. That’s it.
WAITRESS: Ah.

She took away the plate and after a lot longer than it should have taken (which was another warning sign) she came back with his bagel, toasted, with butter and bacon.

My mouth slowly dropped open. I wasn’t surprised, not really. I was amazed at how stupid the situation was, not to mention the waitress. I looked at my partner who looked stunned and give him a look that asked “OK Champ. Now what? Dare you send it back?” (My facial expressions can be incredibly loquacious.)

“If I send this back who knows what it’ll have on it next. Liverwurst?” So he shrugged and ate it. And how was the bacon? “Crispy and tasty.”

So we left and as we walked back to the car he pointed out another dinky little place and told me that last year he had a whole chicken dinner there.

Next time I choose the restaurant.

 

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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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