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A Moment Of Kindness On The Metro North

8 Mar

March 9, 2018

The Metro North is a northeastern regional train line. You buy a ticket and the conductor walks down the aisle and punches a card, which he sticks on your seat signifying at which stop you get off. I ride it every day and I usually get a seat but  on this night it was crowded and I stood.

Sitting not far from me was a family, a father and his young children. They were about five years old and very cute, reading books on the ride. But it was crowded and cramped and bad as it was for me standing, it was worse for the conductor who had to squeeze his way down the aisle and check everyone’s ticket and punch a card for each one.  So he could be forgiven if he just did his job and moved on down the line.

But he didn’t.

Wouldn’t you give this child a smile?

When he got to the family, he took some extra time with the tickets. While he made small talk with the kids (“Do you like the ride? Is it smooth enough?”) I watched him make a lot of extra punches in their tickets. I had no idea what he was doing but when he was finished, he handed them each a card which had a smiley face punched into it.

The kids were thrilled as only a little kid would be at getting a card with a smiley face punched in it. Their smiles were huge and they waved the cards in the air. They were happy, their father was happy, the conductor was happy, and I, who just happened to be looking at the right place at the right time, was happy too.

Look closely at the ticket in his hand.

 

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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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