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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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The Misadventures of an Unromantic Man

13 Jun

June 13, 2017

It was all because of New York City, really.

We’ve got alternate side parking here. That means that once a week you can’t park on one side of the street while nothing happens and they don’t clean the street and on another day you can’t park on the other side of the street while nothing happens and they don’t clean the street. They call these rules “Street Cleaning Regulations” but all they really do is regulate the police to ticket you if you don’t move your car. Then something happens.

Around here, the no-parking regulations are No Parking Thursday from 8:30 to 10:00 and on the other side of the street No Parking Friday from 8:30 to 10:00. Those are AM hours so in order to find a spot to park my car for that hour and a half I need to start looking around 4:15 AM the week before. Hey, this is Brooklyn (“Home of the New Towering Condominium Being Built in Your Neighborhood, All the Time”) so parking is tight. And when I say “tight” I mean “1,478 people fighting for 1 spot” tight. And that’s on light days.

So on this particular Thursday I got up early and, bleary-eyed and foggy of mind, I got into the elevator. I was doing pretty well, considering that I might have had as much as 45 minutes of sleep. Not only did both my sneakers match, and not only were they on my feet, but they were on the correct feet. I haven’t always accomplished that so I was off to a rollicking start. I was looking at my phone, which was off, when I entered the elevator. That was intentional. I was too thick with sleep to manage to turn on my phone but I wanted an excuse to not talk to anyone, or even make eye contact. Hey, I’m a seasoned New Yorker, I know the deal.

On the elevator I go, and yup, there was already someone in there. Did she live in the building? I don’t know. I do not care to know my neighbors. After all, they are, by and large, people. And my motto at times like that (and this) is “People? Who needs them?” Anyway, this woman I was ignoring was about as old as Carol Channing (96 years old as of this writing and, yes, alive) and very honesty looked very much like her.

Kind of like Hans Moleman in drag, no?

I will now recreate the sterling conversation we had.

ME: (nothing at all)
HER: Good morning!!!!!!
ME: (indistinct mumble resembling “grum numble”)
HER: Or maybe it’s “good day.” Do you think this will be a good day?
ME: Wha?

But there was more, too much more. This semi-mummified woman was wearing a spangley black velvet outfit, like if Swarovski designed a gym outfit for people who want to be as far from the gym as possible.  There were little glittery crystals all over it, and in her hair she wore something that I did not get much of a look at because I was still trying to concentrate on my blank cellphone screen.

There I am, trying to ignore the burning question of whether or not it will be a good day when she touched me.

Yeah, I don’t care to be touched. This goes back to an experience I had with an uncle, an old Hercules movie, and basement door that locked from the wrong side. I… I’d rather not talk about it….

Well she touched me lightly on the arm. Stroked me lightly on the arm, actually. Sensually. Flirtatiously. In a way I was stroked on the arm by a construction worker when I was 21. That’s very true, it really happened, and I… I’d rather not talk about it…

To say I was taken aback is to be very literal about it. I reflexively took a step back and thudded into the back wall of the elevator.

HER: Ha ha (stroke stroke on the arm)

Now bear in mind that I got on at the fourth floor and the trip down to the first only takes less than a minute. But it felt a whole lot longer than that.

I can’t exactly call myself a ladies man. I can’t inexactly call myself that either. But this was the second time that week that an, um, odd woman had taken interest in me. Just the other day I was walking Saarah back to her place when we passed a girl in the doorway of the house right next door. I’d seen her around once or twice before. She’s hard to miss. Imagine an elf from The Lord of The Rings. Add random green streaks and highlights to her hair, as if she had seaweed tangled in her unwashed tresses. Now get her hooked on drugs and strung out on crack. Dress her in messy and stained clothes. That’s her.

Would you believe I have a four-year graphic arts degree?

As Saarah and I passed her, she leaned over close and said hello to me. Not to us, just to me. So I said what has become my trademark: indistinct mumble resembling “grum numble”

I… I’d rather not talk about it.

 

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