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.