June 3rd

Kage Baker, as I have noted before, did not drive. She thus had a passenger’s viewpoint of the DMV and traffic enforcement; although, as a passenger utterly dependent on other people having cars, she had a pretty jaundiced view of them … but it was my job to keep them in line and deal with their occasional madnesses.

She would have hated today.

I presently live in a nice, quiet little neighborhood where every week we do a totally unnecessary do-si-do from one side of the street to the other with parked cars: on Thursday, one may not park on the west side of the street, but on Friday it’s the east side.  This is ostensibly so the city, in its hygienic wisdom, can sweep the streets. What actually happens is that a street sweeper comes down the street and crushes all the leaves into the curb – then blows the fragments into driveways behind it. The leaves never actually go away, but are just processed into smaller and smaller bits until a rain washes them all into the sewers.

What this do accomplish, though, is to give Parking Enforcement a twice-weekly chance to tickets cars. There are usually one or two unwary visitors or late-sleeping residents who get caught every week. Those of us accustomed to the pattern point and laugh.

However, they also evidently run the plates even on the folks legally parked. Why not? Who knows what you may find? When they ran mine, the system coughed up an utterly spurious record of 6 unpaid parking tickets. And so they towed my car away.

I was alerted to this when my nephew opened the front door to show the frantically barking Corgi that no one was there – and found the helpful informative card informing us my car was under arrest. The Corgi had the good grace not to say “I told you so!”

Anyway – I have spent the day hithering and yonning through the East side of Los Angeles, locating and ransoming my PT Cruiser. I have dealt with many different contractors to and employees of the great City of Los Angeles; every one of them was evidently operating in a different dimension, and had a different interpretation of what I needed to do to get my car returned. It all cost more money and took more time; L.A. seems to be operating in a string theory universe, with 7 or 8 tiny invisible pocket dimensions. And that’s where they keep the impounded cars …

I am assured, by the amiable but unrelenting folks who checked the records finally, that I can petition the City for a return of the several hundred dollar’s worth of fees I paid today: after all, the record was in error! They admitted that. They even apologized. But rules are rules, and they couldn’t release my car unless I paid up what I did not actually owe, what they even agreed I didn’t owe.  I’ll get it back later. Probably. Maybe.

It’s sure obvious why all the clerks in the DMV and Traffic Enforcement offices are behind bullet-proof glass …

But I was victorious. My dear tricked out pirate Cruiser did not have to spend the weekend behind the Lacy Street Animal Shelter (it’s an impound yard for everybody down there), at the mercy of chrome thieves and gas siphoners. It is safely and legally parked under the camphor trees again, though it still shows the ghostly white reminder of the chalked prisoner numbers on its windshield. It needs a bath.

Thus, because of domestic disasters, I got nothing done today on any kind of writing. Something will come of it, though, I am sure; that was one of the oldest, strangest and loveliest parts of Los Angeles I went wandering in today. My soul is full of brick pavements, and enormous jacaranda trees like purple fog banks, and magnolias with blossoms as big as a child’s head and filling the air with the scent of lemon pie. Kage loved the old parts of the city, and I was reminded of all that during my quest today.

So I guess it was worth the journey. Especially since I got the car back.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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11 Responses to June 3rd

  1. mary lynn says:

    Nothing is as aggravating as having one’s car towed, whether deservedly nor not. I’m so sorry for your collision of universii.

    I’m rather fond of the trick they have of deducting parking tickets from your income tax refund. Never mind if you owed it or not. We’ve paid for the same unearned ticket three years running now. To get that money back you have to navigate both the Board of Equalization AND the Community College System. Somewhere along this line my string unravels and I have yet to get our money back.


  2. mary lynn says:

    Do you iTunes? I would gift you a wondrous song about car towing pirates from Chicago if you do.


  3. Kate says:

    Mary Lynn – Eeek! You are paying a zombie parking ticket? At least I am fairly sure mine are going away now!

    Nope, not an iTuner. Don’t own any of them fancy little e-devices you can keep about your person, lol. But I like the idea of car-towing pirates – they seem so likely!


    • Tom says:

      Not only likely, Kate, but an historical artifact of the workings of Chicago politics. A gentleman named Casio had the protection of major players at City Hall. His excesses were hardly to be believed, and there was his downfall. His extortions became famous. ‘Famous’ for criminals? Not good.

      Lincoln Towing grabbed the car of my sensei’s sensei. The car was bailed out, almost for more than it was worth. O-sensei went back in the dark of the night with a large-caliber weapon, and shot out every window in the place. CPD was never called.

      Soon after, Casio shut down when faced with a hailstorm of lawsuits, civil and criminal. His patron had fallen afoul of the law, himself, and Casio’s protection was gone.


  4. Chris Rioux says:

    I, too, once had my car towed – by enforcement officers who thought it was abandoned and couldn’t find my house 100 feet away! They couldn’t find it because in their wisdom Nevada County not only changed all house numbers to 5 digits, they NAMED all driveways with more than one house on them. Thus I was parked on the street which had my old address (Sky Pines) and my house was on a new “street” (Sierra Star) that the workers couldn’t find on their map! They took a LONG time to update their maps. Thank god I didn’t have an emergency. I paid to get it back and they did reimburse me the towing fee, but nothing can pay for the time lost and inconvenience caused!


  5. mary lynn says:

    OH! OH! I found it on youtube


  6. Holy Christmas on a Cracker! That is annoying and major sucktastic. I’m glad you got the car back and hope you get your money back as well. I think the Corgi deserves some small treat by way of apology especially since he did have the good grace to forgo the “I told you so” dance.

    For my part, I must have spent at least $400 over the years in the service of The City of Oakland and parking tickets on street cleaning days when I just fell into the miasma of the unemployed, lost time and plum forgot.


    • Kate says:

      Deidre – does the city of Oakland actually clean the streets? Or, like Los Angeles, just convert the detritus into smaller and smaller pieces? I think LA is trying to produce dark matter or something …

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


      • They actually use water since we don’t live in a desert. 🙂 They spray, sweep and suck. It actually gets the gutters clean except when they have to swing around the asshat (like me) who forgot to move the car and as a result missed the pile of leaves, an empty cheetos bag and a dead raccoon.


      • Kate says:

        Wow! Oakland street cleaning definitely beats Los Angeles. But, it is true – we are a semi-desert in our natural state. So it’s a good thing that they don’t waste water on the streets. On the other hand, mulching dry leaves into ever-smaller particles and then blowing them up people’s driveways is not precisely sensible. But the City of Los Angeles is run by dingbats …


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