Sunday, August 3, 2008

no parking

To park legally almost anywhere in my town, you have to have a resident parking permit -- a little decal featuring a photo of some scenic local vista that you stick to your car's rear window. While there are parking meters on a few of the busiest commercial streets, to park almost anywhere else in town, you need a parking permit. The town enforces the rule pretty strictly, mostly because it collects a tidy sum of revenue from the parking tickets.

The resident parking permits are only good for a year, and, though I've lived at the same address for over ten years, every year I have to apply for a new one. This year's been particularly challenging. A few months back, I sent in the required forms -- the application, a copy of my car registration, two utility bills and a check for twelve dollars. A couple of weeks later, an envelope arrived from town parking office, returning all the things I had sent in, with a note that said they had already issued a resident parking permit to my address.

I called the office and explained to the nice woman who answered the phone that, yes, we had gotten one parking permit, but, that, in fact, there were two people in the household who drove and, though we realized it wasn't exactly ecologically-minded, for the moment anyway, we each had our own car and so we needed a second resident parking permit. The nice woman apologized for the confusion, and told me to resubmit the materials. I put all the papers into a new envelope and sent them back.

A couple of weeks later, all my forms were again returned to me. This time, the note said that, by now, the utility bills I'd submitted were more than 30 days old, so I'd have to resubmit my application with more current ones. I waited until the new gas and electric bills arrived and immediately sent them to the town parking office.

This time, when the envelope from the town parking office arrived, I was sure it would contain the resident permit. No such luck. Inside was a note saying that, although the car was registered to my address, the records at the state department of motor vehicles indicated that the car was garaged in a neighboring town.

I called the state department of motor vehicles and the nice woman who answered the phone told me that, yes, the records did list another town and that, unfortunately, this happened all the time because car dealerships forgot to update the records when they filed the transfer papers. She said that she'd be happy to change the information for a $50 fee and what was my credit card number?

I said thanks, but no thanks and called the car dealer I had bought the car from. The nice woman who answered the phone said that they were very sorry and they'd be happy to take care of it and would send someone over to the registry in the next day or so.

I waited two weeks, called the car dealer to make sure they had updated the garaging address, collected copies of the latest utility bills, and once again sent off the whole package to my town parking office. Yesterday, a familiar envelope arrived. My resident parking permit at last! I thought as I tore it open.

But, sadly, no. Instead there was a note from the town parking office explaining that they couldn't issue me a resident parking permit because I had an unpaid parking ticket. And how had I gotten that parking ticket? Why, it was from the time, a couple of days before, when I had let a dinner guest park in our driveway, while I parked on the street in front of our house and a passing cop had slipped a ticket under my windshield wiper because my car didn't have a resident parking permit.

What's the last parking ticket you got?

34 comments:

Magpie said...

Brazil. You know that movie?

Amanda said...

oh.my.word. What an absolute bother! With all the nonsense, is there any chance they'll cancel the ticket?

niobe said...

Amanda: Not a chance. I think they make it difficult on purpose.

Maggie said...

Oh my goodness, that is crazy! The hoops that you have to jump through make my head spin...hopefully they mail you your permit ASAP!

the dragonfly said...

What a mess!!!!!!

I only ever got one parking ticket; I was in college, and I parked in a driveway with - I'm not kidding - my bumper sticking two inches over the sidewalk. I got a ticket for parking on the sidewalk. My school was in a small town and we often joked that the cops didn't have anything to do. :)

Julia said...

Sadly, not the last, but the one I am still peeved about. Found a meter, paid the meter, went food shopping (small shop a block away from where I parked). Monkey was with me. Come back from the shop less than 30 mins later (paid for 40) to find a parking ticket on the windshield. I freaking paid into the other meter on the same pole!!!! And there was nobody benefiting from my largess, either. Sigh.

Ahuva Batya said...

Don't you just love bureaucracy? It makes the world go round... or makes it grind to a halt. My last ticket was a few years ago when there was a tornado touch-down in the town where my mom lives. I had gone down to help her, since her house was at ground zero-- and got a ticket while parked on what was left of the street. Nice.

Lori said...

How nice that you got to meet all those nice women.

Nice.

Virginia said...

Do you by chance live in Massachusetts? We were just visiting my sister there, on Cape Ann, and I got a ticket for $45 for parking in a deserted beach parking lot with my out-of-state car. There is NO place for non-residents to park there, which is frustrating, but the entire town is very serious about its parking. Makes me crazy....

Eva said...

Oh man. That will be very funny in two years.

I haven't gotten a parking ticket, but I have gotten a few speeding tickets.

Karen said...

yes, you fell write into their municipally evil hands. This is not a parking ticket, but a moving violation story:
Occasionally we travel NJ to see my dad. He is a Manhattan transplant so we inevitably drive him into the city to do something wonderful like eat take out & see paintings. The George Washington Bridge traffic can be so horrid, sometimes they give up and wave everyone through without stopping each car to collect $8.
Last time this happened, we got a fine in the mail. We owed the state of NY $8 plus $20 for running the toll. We went about 6 rounds with them, then figured it was just the system and we couldn't beat it.
Last week I gave up and sent $28 to the state of NY. I hope they use it wisely.

Lisa b said...

our parking situation is equally dastardly. I got a ticket when I pulled up and ran into the house to get something one day.
I was shocked but got off my last ticket because the meter was frozen in december. write or call the city, its worth a try. just send them this post!

c. said...

OMG. Crazy, Niobe.

No parking tickets for me, but my car was towed last in 1996 for being illegally parked in a No Parking zone (only half of it was parked in it though).

Amy said...

Insanity! Wait, no...just bureaucracy. Or bureaucrazy, maybe.

People with no permits park on our street. Then we come home, have no where to park, and end up parking illegally (we call it the "unspot"). We can't call the traffic police on the cars parked in our permit-only street parking because if they come, we'll get a ticket for being parked illegally in a spot that's not a spot. So we hope, and watch, and sometimes, we still end up with a ticket. (grumble, grumble)

Molly said...

Oh. My. God. Makes you want tot take a bat to something.
My last ticket...was when I was getting my hair did (first time ever getting it professionally colored!) and of course spending a bunch of money on it. I guess it takes longer than I thought, and my meter was expired. So, my luxurious hair treatment was even more expensive.

Furrow said...

It's the universe telling you to get a bike. I'd ride a bike for short trips, but I seem to require too many parcels everywhere I go. I would be this guy.

Monica H said...

WTF???

No parking tickets for me.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one who endured such bureaucratic crap. Thanks for posting this, Niobe.

Galen

Smiling said...

My last one was when I was living in Boston, well just north of it, and I made the mistake of sticking a residence permit on a car with an expired one. It also had 15 other residence permits from the previous owner in Wisconsin. Turns out that you have to SCRAP off the old local stickers each year, something I didn't realize because all my local knowledge was from folks who either moved each year, rarely owned cars, or borrowed 'visitor' permits from various friends who didn't own cars. Ah the joys of car ownership - grrr - at the time I was so happy because the city had stopped allowing people to 'hold' car spots all day by leaving furniture in the shoveled out spots that winter, then bam I got a ticket for the mild offense of making the parking person look at 2 stickers.

LAS said...

In Illinois we have to have a plate on the front of the car as well as the back. I had to transfer my registration to Illinois when my Michigan plate expired - but the dealer had to put the front plate on. So in the 3 day window between when I transfered the car, but before I could get to the dealership - I got a ticket for failure to have a front plate. There are cops that go out looking for that.

JamieD said...

Good Lord . . . that sounds like a bad SNL skit.

Hannah said...

I'd lose my shit - I really would.

I've only had one parking ticket and it was my own stupid fault - I parked and had no money, not one red cent, in cash to pay for the ten minutes I would need to be sitting there. So I crossed my fingers and prayed to any benevolent gods for stupid women who leave home with no cash in their purses.

They were not taking pleas that day and I ended up with a ticket. I couldn't really get miffed because it was my fault... and this tale of red tape puts it all in perspective.

~Denise~ said...

What a hassle. It's been a while since I got a parking ticket, I don't go anywhere during the day to get one.

Clementine said...

Ha! I get parking tickets all the time. I get a ticket nearly every time I'm in Boston, Cambridge, or Somerville...seriously, I just plan on sending the various cities my hard-earned cash.

My favorite ticket was the day I moved from NC to Somerville to start grad school: As I was hauling my belongings up 3 flights of stairs, I got a ticket for parking in a resident-only zone. Awesome! (I contested it and won, however.) Petunia once got a ticket in Somerville for parking in a resident-only zone even though she had a visitor permit in her window. When she contested the ticket, the person running the hearing said, "Nancy is one of our best parking officers and I know she wouldn't make a mistake like this. Your appeal is DENIED." Ouch.

LawMommy said...

OMG. I would want to rip someone's hair out.

Tash said...

Wow, that sounds like the three month run-around I got trying to correct Bella's birth certificate which the state severely f'd up.

But I digress: Me? Personally? Christmastime, stayed too late at lunch out with a fussy tot, got a ticket for being 2 minutes late. Which was fine I suppose, but because of the time of year I forgot to pay it for a week or two, and here they escalate your fine by a thousandfold per week late. It was not pretty by the time I finally got to the bill pile.

My parents just picked one up using my car last week. Cuz in my town, if you park at a broken meter that won't take your money? That's flashing "BROKEN"? You're responsible. I guess for leaving a couple bills under your windshield.

thirtysomething said...

Oh bumblefuck. YOU GOT A TICKET IN FRONT OF YOUR OWN HOUSE?
After you have tried multiple times to get a sticker??? I mean...really.

Jennifer said...

Wow...you were able to relate that with no f words.
Must be more than 10 years since my last parking ticket.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Moving violations, my friend, that was my last ticket. I live in freaking suburbia where the parking lots are plenty and the parking tickets few...

MckMama said...

My husband has been watching our sons while I've been in the hospital and the other day, while they were visiting me, my oldest--age 3--drew some things on paper for me and gave them to me. "This one is a parking ticket, Mama! And this one is a speeding ticket!"

Having gotten neither of those at all during the three years of my son's life, and having a guess as to why he'd have "tickets" on the brain, I glanced immediately at my husband, who was looking rather guilty. When the cat's away, the mice will play, I guess!

So, that was really the last one I "got."

niobe said...

I love all these stories. They make me feel like it's not only me that the universe is out to get.

Postscript to my tale of woe: I went to the town website and paid the ticket. It was supposed to be for $25, but the online billing system charged me only $5. So, perhaps the gods decided to cut me a break. Or (more likely), I'll soon have another chapter to add to my parking saga.

Emily said...

I get a ticket everytime I go into Boulder. I'm going today, so I think my next parking ticket will come in a few hours.

Smiling said...

Oh I just thought of one more.. Evanston, IL had these complicated snow parking rule signs. You had to vacate the spots at certain times for plowing - as in do not park here on even/odd days betwen 6pm-12am, 12 am-6am etc if there is snow on this side of the street. I often stood in the driving snow in a confused state trying to decipher if I had just parked on an even or odd street and what day it was. It was way too easy to park on the 15th of the month on an 'even day' street only to have the parking rule kick in at Midnight (on the 16th) and wake up to a ticket or towed car.

Amelie said...

Sometimes I'm glad not to own a car (and to live in a place where this is not a major drawback). At least the $5 sound like a nice "accident".