Monday, September 23, 2013

The Bureaucracy Strikes Back...

Sometimes, you just have to wonder what the fuck it is that we're getting for our tax dollars.

If you live in the State of New Yorkistan, I would say you're getting jack shit. And when I say this, I should clarify:

1. We are NOT getting a government that works smoothly and efficiently.

2. We ARE getting a government which is apparently run by rhesus monkeys who, on a good day, might be able to find their own asses with both hands and a flashlight..

The long, sordid, and all-too-sickening tale of this Lunatics battle with the mindless bureaucracy of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles seemed to have the proverbial light at the end of that tunnel. But, alas!, the rhesus monkeys have found a way to annoy me yet again.

If you haven't heard this story before, then I suggest that you read this, this, and this, and then you'll be up to speed with this entire tale of woe.

And then you'll probably want to either laugh or vomit. Probably both.

You see, having achieved the Holy Grail, so to speak, and obtained a New York State Non-Driver Identification card, I decided to take it one step further and get my driver's licence back. I haven't had one since...oh, about 1994. The reason is simple: I didn't need one, anymore. The whys and wherefores for this aren't important, so I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, that since 1994 this Lunatic has not had a valid driver's licence, nor driven an automobile.

However, things have changed.

For a start, Tess is ill. She requires transport to and from doctors and hospitals, and although she qualifies for subsidized medical transport anywhere in New York City, arranging and utilizing such a service is a pain in the ass. You have to call the day before your appointment, and several factors go into determining when your ride is available. In most cases, you'll find your ride to a doctor available two hours before your appointment, and your ride home available two hours after. If you're lucky. If the stars are not aligned properly, you'll find yourself on that medical transport vehicle with other passengers who invariably need to go places too, just nowhere near where you need to be.

It's not uncommon to find yourself being picked up on Staten Island for an appointment in Manhattan but sharing the vehicle with someone who needs to go to Astoria, or the South Bronx, or somewhere in Brooklyn, and the rule is first on/first off, so that even if the transport arrives on time if you're Number Three, then you can find yourself taking the Five Borough Tour.

Secondly, Tess and I like to go places that don't involve doctors and hospitals every so often, and because she has trouble standing and walking, and taking a wheelchair on public transportation is a major hemorrhoid, we'd like to have a private vehicle so that we can come and go as we either need to, or please.

So, a month or two after getting my NYS Identification card, I decided to go take the written exam so that I could get my licence back. And it was then that I ran into a totally new flavor of Bureaucratic Stupidity.

I took the test. I passed it with flying colors (you have to be a complete moron to fail it), and then they tested my eyesight (which was perfect). One step closer. They gave me another piece of paper, and told me to wait for my number to called so that I might be given my Learner's permit (in New York, it does not matter if you have had driver's ed before, or are a former driver renewing a licence after several years of lapse time -- everyone must get a learner's permit and then subject themselves to 20 hours of driver's education).

Two hours and some minutes later, my number is called. I give the crosseyed union employee behind the counter the paper the other mental midget at the other window gave me, and fully expected to hear those magic words "that'll be $______, please. Have a nice day."

But it was not to be.

Instead I heard "I'm sorry, but I cannot give you a learner's permit".

When I asked why not, I was told that I would not receive one until I cleared up the five moving violations on my driving record that went all the way back to 1987, oh, and the one I somehow picked up in New Jersey, too.

I was shocked. For I know for a fact that during my time as a licensed driver, I had received but two (2) moving violations, and coincidentally, they were both for the same exact thing: passing a red light. I also know for a fact that I paid both of those tickets, and I then I never heard from the DMV again.

I asked the logical question. "What are these tickets for, exactly?"

The answer: "I don't know. They're so old they're not in the system."

"But, apparently they ARE in the system, because you have a record of them, no?"

"Well, yes, I know there's a ticket and I know the date it was issued, but I don't know what it's for. If you go next door to traffic court, they may be able to help you."

So, armed with a print out of the five violations (sans particulars, except summons numbers and dates) I went to stand in line at traffic court, to see the lady at the information desk who, one hoped, would be able to tell me what this was all about. Ah, but this is New York. Unionized Bureaucrats in New York are like Sergeant Shultz on Hogan's Heroes. They know nothing. But, she said said helpfully, if I wanted to just go see the judge and plead guilty and pay the fines (what? Pay fines and interest on 20+ year old tickets I don't think I ever got and no one can tell me what they're for? Are you fucking crazy?), this can all be cleared up!

Hell no, I said. There must be some way to find out what these tickets are all about, right?

Why, yes, there is! You can fill in yet another form, and send a check to Albany ($11.00 per ticket) to have another unionized dolt wade through all the paper in the warehouse (assuming my -- phantom -- tickets are all still on file) and get you what they call The Abstracts of these tickets. Never mind New Jersey. I know for a fact that I have never gotten a ticket there, but when you call their version of the DMV, the people there are apparently denser and dumber.

So, two months later, here's what I know:

1. I still don't have The Abstracts and no one can tell me when, if ever, they will be available.

2. All five tickets are no longer just moving violations. because I failed to show up in court or answer the summons, all five have been converted to Warrants...for my arrest.

Now, here's the kicker.

This Lunatic used to drink. An awful lot. And after drinking an awful lot, this Lunatic used to drive. Consequently, he would get himself pulled over by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence. As a matter of fact, I have been stopped by the police exactly FIVE times (and there are witnesses to this!) and given field sobriety tests, and every time, I passed with flying colors. I have not been ticketed for DUI, I was never arrested. I was always given a test -- including the breathalyzer -- and given a pat on the back and an admonition to "be careful".

And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was wasted every goddamned time, too.

All five of these incidents occurred AFTER my phantom tickets supposedly became warrants. Which means the cops who took my driver's licence those five times did nothing with it, for if they had, I would have been arrested on a failure to appear warrant.

Twenty years later, and the State of New York still has outstanding warrants out on Your's Truly but have yet to pick him up. I can't figure out why. It's not like they didn't know where I lived, because they knew where to find me when it came time to pay my taxes. The politicians certainly know where to find me when they needed to send their retarded campaign materials to me. The PBA (Patrolman's Benevolent Association, the police union here in New York City) certainly has me on their mailing list when it comes time to ask for a donation.

Fuck, I've even walked into the Department of Motor Vehicles multiple times seeking identification and a driver's licence and they let me wander the fucking halls!

So, here we stand: I am waiting for someone, anyone, to give me the specifics on these tickets I've supposedly garnered and not paid, with warrants hanging over my head all this time, and the best the DMV can do is wade through 20-year-old paper, or suggest that I just shut the fuck up and pay the money and be done with it. Which, I guess, is the true aim of this entire process.

For the State of New York expects you to knuckle under like a good little peasant and just pay the fine, already. Especially when they're apparently in the wrong. I never got those tickets, I paid for the ones I did legitimately get, I don't know where they came from, and apparently being a cop in New York City means you don't have to do anything strenuous, like running someone's identification at a traffic stop to make certain they aren't wanted on an arrest warrant. Five times.

I have a feeling I know where those tickets came from, and who they actually belong to (because it's apparently too difficult to actually match a driver to his identification for a cop, too), but until I get The Abstracts from Albany, I'll never be able to prove it. In the meantime, I refuse to simply pay for something I didn't do just to dodge the mindless bureaucracy.

This state is fucked up beyond all belief.

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