I know I have a bad attitude about government but it's the only one I have and I’m gonna keep it.
One afternoon one of my employees used the company car to go to purchase some produce for our elderly residents. All our vehicles are equipped with handicap parking permits so she used it to park in a restricted space.
The local uniformed, motorcycle-riding constabulary were out in full force “protecting and serving.” In a sting operation designed to stop crime (raise revenue) in our community, they swept through the lot citing all the dangerous criminals who were inappropriately parked in blue spaces and confiscating their handicap placards.
My employee was one of them. When she asked “why are you giving me two tickets?” the jack-booted Gestapo thug who cited her, rudely snapped, “Don’t you know the law?”
She got two tickets. I don’t know why. They both sound like the same thing to me. His explanation was that citation #1 was for not having a handicapped person in the vehicle and #2 was for unauthorized use of the permit. The first ticket will cost her $350. I’m not sure about the second one but she will have to appear in court. By the way, all our vehicle code violations include a 117% penalty assessment (which is a tax on the penalty). It is no wonder that many municipalities have reduced their police force and replaced them with code enforcement officers. Catching bad guys is dangerous and costly; hassling regular people for seat belt and cell phone violations, parking violations, garage sales, etc. is an easy and lucrative enterprise.
The jack-booted Gestapo guy confiscated our parking placard, gave her a copy of the property document and told her that I would have to go to the police station to retrieve it. I thought I would have to wait until the next day because he was still out on patrol. “No,” she said, “He told me that you need to go right away because it would be at the station before you could get there.”
So later in the afternoon I drove across town to the station. I was greeted by Barney Fiffe on steroids with a control issue. “What do you need?” he asked.
“I want to retrieve our confiscated handicap placard,” I answered.
“They’re not here yet,” he snapped (obviously he knew the boys were out rounding them up).
“Well why would the officer tell my employee that it would be here before I could get here?” I asked.
Then Barney started exerting his authority, “Hey, don’t talk to me about it. Go talk to the officer.”
I snapped back, “It's not my job to talk to him. I’m not his supervisor. He told me it would be here.”
Barney Fiffe grabbed my receipt and commanded, “Well then just sit down and wait for him until he ends his shift.”
“Gimme that paper back,” I demanded as I reached through the window and grabbed it back. Then I figured I had better leave the station before I got arrested.
So early the next morning I returned to the station. This time I was greeted by a female officer. I handed her my property receipt and told her that I was there to retrieve my confiscated placard. She walked back to consult with another officer and then left the room for a few minutes. When she returned she informed me that the placards had already been returned to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and I would have to go there to claim it.
I hate going to the DMV. I waited in line for 20 minutes to get to the desk marked “START HERE.” I told the public servant chick behind the counter what I needed. She asked if the placard had been stolen. “No," I said, "the police officer confiscated it." So she handed me a form to replace stolen license plates and told me to fill it out and wait for my turn.
I completed the form. I sat and and stewed as I watched several public servant zombies chewing the fat, polishing their nails, and watching the clock for about an hour while somewhere near a hundred of us waited for our turns (except for masochists, I don't understand why these kinds of experiences don't cause everyone to become Republicans).
Finally they called my number. I handed my paperwork to the clerk and told her what I needed. “I’m sure this is the wrong form,” I said, "my license plates weren't stolen. I'm here to retrieve a confiscated handicap placard."
“No. Its the right form,” she answered as she began entering info into her computer. After some obvious, fruitless attempts to accomplish something, she started thumbing through her two-inch-thick "DMV Stuff For Dummies Guidebook." Finally, out of frustration, she called for her supervisor.
“You can’t do it that way,” said her supervisor. Then he looked at me and said, “You filled out the wrong form.”
I filled out another form.
Then I was sent to wait in line at another window where I was finally issued a NEW replacement placard.
That whole compounded ordeal, from the local police department to the State DMV was a costly, bungled, bureaucratic waste of time, energy, and resources at the taxpayers’ expense. And it was totally unnecessary. All right, my employee shouldn’t have done it; she got her citation and she'll pay a fine. I won’t argue that. That should have been the end of it. But no, government bureaucracy cannot do anything in a simple, straightforward and sensible way.
I never did retrieve my confiscated handicap placard. I'm just happy that the police department wasn't holding something valuable; I have no confidence that they can be trusted with other people's property. So where is my original handicap placard? My guess is that some jack-booted Gestapo thug guy has it in his personal vehicle so he can snag a convenient parking spot whenever he is in a crowded lot.
I can hardly wait until the government runs our free health care.