Pushing paper for Anaheim…
You might say I was working for the man today. You might say the city of Anaheim had me as its new employee.
… you might say Anaheim made me its bitch…
About a month or so ago, I was fighting a pretty ugly case of bronchitis. I was bed-ridden and hating it, coughing up everything but blood (“What was a Dodge Dart doing down there?”), and… well, hating it. Around that time, I received my new registration stickers (tags, call them what you will) for my car… actually, I got them during the holidays… you see where this is going, right? Basically, I forgot to put them on my car.
Cut to Tuesday night, as Vicky and I readied ourselves for a quiet Pre-Valentine’s Day shopping trip/dinner at The Block. (I know I’m not the only one!) Stepping outside, we see my car across the street… with an Anaheim police officer standing next to it… putting a ticket on it… Vicky says, “You know, he’s giving you a ticket because you forgot to put your tags on, right?”
But, it’s a “fix-it” ticket. So, I pop on the tags (as I should have long before – I know!). The ticket instructs me to go to the City Cashier and pay my fine ($10 with registration) and that’s where I went this morning.
I got there at 7:30am, thinking that I wanted to get out of there rather quickly – some of us writers have day jobs, ya know? – and avoid the line. There was no line. I was first! TA DA!
But let’s back up a second. The building had no number that I could see. I didn’t see a sign. So, when I parked, I walked in and asked the security guard, “Is this the City Cashier’s office?”
“It doesn’t open until eight o’clock.” I swear, the guy was talking to me like I didn’t speak English, over-pronouncing his words and everything.
I tried to ignore it. “That’s fine. I just wanted to get here early.”
“It’s not open,” he said as if I was an idiot. “It doesn’t open until eight.”
“Yes,” I said. “I know. I just wanted to beat the rush.” Having said that, though, I began to feel like an idiot. Who would “rush” out here??
Thankfully, he didn’t catch that. And, at 8:00am, the office opened.
I approached the desk. “I need to pay this,” I said to the lady behind the counter, handing over my ticket. I added, “I don’t know how you make sure I’m registered. Would you like my registration card? Or do you check my car? I’m right outside the door.”
She answered, in a voice like Darth Vader ripping out somebody’s heart with his mind, “YOU MUST GO TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT!”
This shocked me… a little. I answered, “Oh.”
She muttered some instructions and handed me my card. As I walked outside, I was too busy wondering how that woman ever got a date with a voice like that (“I ENJOY QUIET WALKS ON THE BEACH!”) to anticipate what I had coming.
Down to the Anaheim PD I drove. I parked two spots away from the door and walked inside… and was greeted with a line. Swell. So, I waited and began to count the minutes and think about how late I would arrive at work. Not good. But, after a while, the line moved and I approached a window. “I was just at the City Cashier’s office and they sent me here to –“
“You have your registration?” the officer behind the glass asked.
“Yes, it’s in my car. Do you need to look at my –“
“Go get it, please.”
Okay, I thought. I’ll go get it.
Minutes later, I returned with registration in hand. I was rather surprised when I had to pay him, too… more than surprised – that was my lunch money! Then, he asked, “Did you bring your car?”
Honestly, my reaction wasn’t to laugh. I was dumbfounded. “I just walked out to it.” By the time I got to “walked”, he was gone. But he came out another side and started walking to the parking lot. Not knowing what to do, I followed him. I pointed out my car; he saw the tag and back inside we went. He returned to his counter behind the glass, stamped my ticket and said, “You have to bring this to the City Cashier’s office. Do you know where that is?”
“I just came from there,” I told him again. And he handed me my ticket.
Back to the City Cashier, I went. It wasn’t Darth Vader this time. I gave her the ticket. I paid her. And I said, “I didn’t know I had to go to the police department first. You might want to put that on the ticket.”
“Sir, your attitude is NOT appropriate!” And, with that, we were done.
Actually, I was more than finished. My encounters with law enforcement and government have been relatively minor but I pity anyone who has to jump through even greater hoops of bureaucracy. From now on, I put my tags on my car the day I get them!