I have been on an extended vacation. Well, that is not exactly true. You may recall that I am a musician in between long breaks as an educator.
I went on a couple of band tours, two in the United States, and one in South America. I got sick down there in Argentina and I was swallowed alive by a toilet. Don't worry, it burped me back out. The promoter in South America was a sweetheart. His name is Caca. You say it like the secret password in the Three Amigos (click here). He wears a ring on every finger and has grandchildren. Yes, we are a proud tribe of geezers.
Anyway, he brought a doctor to see me before one of the shows. I was very sick and needed a plug. She spoke Portuguese quite well. She was also very beautiful. English was a smile and a nod.
Yes, she was the perfect doctor.
When she asked me what was wrong I thought about it for a while. I suppose I could have told her the truth, that I had been staying within three feet of a toilet for about five days and that even the heartiest Brazilian barbecue turned to decaf in my digestive track.
But I lied like a rug. A fine, well worn carpet.
I'm fine! Not a problem in the world. Thank you!
Where Was I? Oh yes. My blog is an education blog. Or it was. Nowadays it is a swampland of bric a brac and that's ok. I like that just fine.
One day I'll change the name of my blog. Something to reflect my ego most completely. That's because no one else in my house helps me write anymore. They just 'cc me in their world of words.
..... and then I hit delete.
You may recall that I live in a small town in the foothills that I despise.
Yeah, whatever. I have my reasons. Some of them are even good, but that's no matter.
People always tell me to move. My friends tell me to move. People who live here and who hate me tell me to move. People who live here and like me tell me to move.
Mary doesn't want to move. She likes to see me wriggle on the devil's fork. If I turned to decaf before her eyes, I think she'd go into medicine like my beautiful Brazilian doctor.
In order to live here you have to pretend you are happy paying taxes for stupid stuff that no one uses or wants. That's to raise revenues for events that make us hillbillies seem quaint.
I don't eat out here much because I don't want to talk to anyone who may have betrayed my family a few years back. I get it to go, or more likely, I don't go at all.
I do go to the butcher shop because they've earned my patronage and respect. They did this by being friendly, courteous, and raising money for people in need.
I know. I'm a jerk. I need more pride in others and less in myself. I'm sure there's a twelve-step plan for that somewhere in town.
There is a new police person in town. She stopped by the house a while back and asked Mary about my truck outside, parked in front of the house I bought, with a parking sticker I paid for. I know because I bought the parking pass like I have every year for what seems like forever.
The officer asked if the truck was running. A solid logical question. She asked the wrong person why it was never moved. Mary, no doubt, said it was because her husband is 'a low-down dirty scoundrel.'
Imagine if we weren't madly in love with each other.
What I really mean is the the officer told Mary that it needs to be moved every three days. Mary told her that the truck does, indeed run, that I am the only one who knows how to control the beast, and that it has a parking sticker on it.
I mean, I get it, sort of. The truck has cobwebs on it. It's filthy because I stopped washing it in order to conserve water. It has a broken air conditioner which makes it unbearable in this oppressive heat. So I wait until Winter to drive it. It sits part of the year in front of my house. Sometimes I paint witty slogans on it.
I have come into the attention of the newer police in town. They like to occasionally pull me over by my house so my neighbors can see the rebel hillbilly from up the street engage in conversations instead of going away.
Before I left on tour I paid online for the pass. When I got home a few weeks later it wasn't on my truck, and it wasn't in the mailbox. That was a concern, of course. The online parking system has been a royal pain in the neck. It is farmed out to some company- no doubt to make policing in Sierra Madre easier.
My dog, a little orange terrier, notoriously attacks the mail when it comes through the slot and flings it all over the living room.
She's free range. It's cool. I have no problem with her quirks. But I do have to climb under furniture to find my mail sometimes.
No parking pass. But lots of UUT endorsements from people I no longer believe in.
The Parking Fairy
So, I walk over to the police station to ask about my parking pass.
I am helped by a young officer who tells me I need to pay for my parking pass online. I explain that I have done this, but the parking pass was never put on my truck, and that I have checked my email and post for a receipt that never came.
He explains that, clearly, I have done something wrong.
Of course I have. It certainly couldn't have been that the crappy company they hired to do this for them - to make their jobs and lives easier- had somehow messed up. When all else fails, blame the public you serve.
Just like the teachers at Sierra Madre Elementary. When all else in the system fails - blame the kids.
Anyhoo, I told him that of course I was confused.
For many years I had handed a check to the person sitting where he was sitting, and two weeks later the parking sticker would be placed on my truck.
He told me that no such thing has ever happened.
I assured him that indeed, it had. It had been that way for years, prior to his employment.
"I see," he said. "It just magically appeared on your truck. Like a Parking Fairy came and stuck it on in the middle of the night?"
Yes. Like that.
There was a time when the Sierra Madre Police took the time to place a paid sticker on our cars. I never called them fairies though. That came from Officer Friendly.
Third Time is a Charm
After a second online attempt to get my parking pass, and after a visit to the station, I finally called the company who hadn't issued my pass.
Good old land line telephone.
Nothing quite like efficiency.
Chalk It Up to Outdated Ordinances
There is a certain symbiotic relationship that has to exist between law enforcement and citizenry. We have to break rules so that they can exist. They have to exist because we break the rules.
Even if the rules are stupid.
I am sure that somewhere in time it was necessary to have an overnight parking ordinance to keep cars off the streets or, more likely- to insure that mechanics wouldn't work on their cars on the street- or that people wouldn't live in their cars. It justifies shooting them in the backs if they fall asleep in the back seat. Oh. I digress.
Personally I'd prefer to park mine on my beautiful green lawn that the city keeps tabs on with an occasional letter or warning.
But I don't.
So the result of my exciting exchange with Officer Friendly and the news of the magical parking permit beings, I now get visits from my new friend in ordinance control. The rear left tire of my truck, parked in front of my house- which I pay for in taxes levied twice a year- with a parking permit I pay for annually - it periodically gets chalked to insure I move it every three days.
Now everyone in Sierra Madre can see my shame. They can all see that I'm naughty and don't follow the rules. Shame on me.
But I, too, have chalk. I can chalk all four of the tires for good times. I love chalk art.
You may not know this, but in some cities chalking the streets in protest of police brutality is an offense worthy of arrest for vandalism.
I wonder if I should make a citizen's arrest.
If chalking the streets is now ok, believe me, I have plenty of tubthumping slogans to share.
I also have paint, and I love to paint messages on my car. I'm quite good at it.
Maybe I can paint it with witty messages across about archaic city ordinances.
I can start parking it every three days on Sierra Madre Boulevard in front of that lovely ALF monstrosity you all approved. Or in front of the schools and churches. Or down by the cemetery.
Maybe you'd like it in front of your house, since it's not ok for me to park it in front of mine any more. You can paint an advertisement on it. Something like:
You love mediocre food? Dine in Sierra Madre, where the only thing higher than the price of the food on that plate is the City Council and their tax infatuation.