please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Visit to scenic, historic, downtown Bureaucratic Hell

So...You call 'em "processing fees"; I call 'em "bribes". Wait. Back up.

After Steve Miller was done rocking (us) baby, on Sunday night, we had a couple hours worth of running around in the rain. After this, I was doin' my usual and flying back down Marine Drive.
One headlight, yeah I know. Windshield fogged up due to faulty defrost system? Certainly! Speeding? Well, probably, but not as rash as it may appear.
In any case, this caught the attention of a Port of Portland police officer, who gave chase.

When I saw the lights in my rearview, I thought I was just going to be getting out of his way. When it became clear that his lights were for me, I got ready to sit there a while.
But then I thought: oh shit. Tygh Ridge, a year ago!

Yeah crap; now here was where I thought I might very well be goin' to jail. Just south of The Dalles, on our way up to Sherar's Bridge and ultimately to Shaniko and Antelope, we were stopped on the crest just above Tygh Valley by some Wasco County deputy. I was roaring to the top of that hill in the neighborhood of 90, since I was in the middle of nowhere and all. Also, I saw him immediately and pulled over. He did a thankful u-turn in the middle of the highway.

So the problem ultimately came down to us not really having up-to-date proof of insurance. We had the actual insurance, but the piece of paper validating this claim was not readily available. The officer gave me a ticket, with a court date.

When I called the county courthouse to try to change the date, the hescher piece of shit old lady who answered the phone immediately took umbrage to the idea that I'd actually go to trial in her town: "That's what we put the phone number on the back of the ticket for!" she yelled.
She explained (bitchily, pointlessly vindictive, in a manner that was hostile far beyond any possible explanation) that really what needed to happen was that I needed to fill out a form that the nice old redneck lady was about to send me, putting her out to a great extent as she made quite clear, that 'proved' that we had, in fact had valid insurance as of that day, and now all we needed to do was pay the fine that Wasco County had decided we needed to pay.

I did it. After this, nothing. No word on how much was to be paid, or why, for that matter.
I went through the months that followed with a vague suspicion at the back of my mind that something terrible would no doubt come of this, as we had the twin forces of bureaucracy and small-towny bullshit at work. I was right.

So I explained to the Port cop that I was on my way home, explained that 'home' was St. Johns, and that I'd been working at Edgefield that night. And he took my license and registration, went back to his car, staying there so very damn long that it was clear something bad was about to happen.
This was further confirmed by the arrival of a second cop. In my right-hand side-view, I could see the furtive approach of a uniformed lady who had a flashlight that may or may not have also concealed a gun. I tried not to stare openly at her.

After an eternity, the first cop returned and asked me to step out of the car. For my part, I was waiting to be arrested, and was already turning my back to the guy. No, he said, not that, but did I have any weapons? As always, my pockets were stuffed with tools that could potentially be used as weapons, but no...We talked.
"You seem like a stand-up guy," he said, "but..." 'But' was that apparently I'd been driving around with a suspended license since April. And the law said he had to impound my vehicle, take away my license.

He also said that if I pled guilty and showed up to the court date with proof of having my license reinstated, he'd recommend that all charges be dropped. The two cops and I stood there waiting for the tow truck, making nervous conversation about the upcoming shows at Edgefield. The man of the two is quite fond of the Gipsy Kings.

They did not offer me a ride home. Bee sleeps like a series E government bond, but I tried...It was now 1:30 A.M., and...She was asleep. I tried Fergie, who I knew would be up, relatively sober and in possession of a vehicle. He came and got me, and I thank him.

All right, so this meant:

A trip to the Port of Portland Police Bureau, which is a hole in the wall on the third floor of the airport. This was to find out where my car was. $20.00.

A trip to an impound lot that, thankfully, wasn't all that far from the airport. Shitty, needlessly hostile hescher woman behind the counter refuses to conduct business with anyone but Bee, who will be driving my car back.
"Fuckin' heschers. Everything's gotta be a problem," I tell Fergie as we stand outside. This costs me $148.00.

To the DMV, where it is pointed out that I still owe Wasco County $219.oo. After this gets paid, we need to give the DMV $75.00...For some reason. At this point, they indicate that I need a copy of my birth certificate to prove that I'm really me.

This necessitates a trip to the Bureau of Vital Records, armed with an actual stack of valid proof that I am who I am. What they really want is $20.00.

Back to the DMV, who would like $25.50. My picture is taken, which is transferred to a piece of paper that most businesses I know would not accept. I apparently will be getting the actual license in two to three weeks, unlike other people renewing their licenses, who received them on the spot.

That would be an accumulated $507.50, as it currently stands. If I end up also having to pay a fine for the burned out license plate light, that will tack on an additional $145.oo.

I'm well aware that I should have kept on calling The Dalles and asking what the hell they actually wanted, and who should I shovel my money at...But I guess I kind of hoped for that rare thing that does occasionally happen; bureaucracy's inherent ineptitude causes them to forget you.

It did the opposite, and in spades. The letter -if any- informing me of legal action being taken for non-payment of the ticket would have been sent to my last address, which we vacated in February. The letter that supposedly informed me that my license had been suspended was apparently sent to my old apartment over The Troika, where I haven't lived for three years.

But that's my fault too, as I have failed to consistently update the DMV as to my address change status over the last three years. Everybody else seems to be able to find me; my bank, whatever creditors I have, my many employers. So I need to assume in advance that a state bureau will not be able to do what pretty much every other entity in society can?

Like I say, I understand that people like money, and it's noteworthy how many of these governmental bodies (The Port P.D., DMV, Vital Records) would only take cash, which anyone will tell you is easily embezzled.
I understand that ya' gotta pay to play, and we all hold our noses and do this. But the DMV in particular asked money for something that looked like a redundancy. Twice.

I don't have some whiny anti-gummint screed here for you; I even don't mind paying taxes. However, this one is beyond stupid, and I seem to have no real redress, and I just wanted to say so.

Had I not been a relatively polite person by nature, no doubt it would have been worse.



Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Oh fuck that.
If I were in closer proximity, I'd take you out and get you drunk. Bee, too.

12:45 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Well, thank you madam.

1:52 PM  

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