Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Off with His Head

In late June, Bobby received a letter from the nice people in the Residential Parking Program of the City of New Orleans. They very kindly wanted to let him know that his current permit would be expiring on the last day of July, and, if he wanted to, he could fill out these simple little forms and get his new permit mailed to him in the wink of an eye.

Of course, he would have to furnish proof of his residency. That proof would include copies of his drivers license, his  auto registration, and his current energy bill. Oh, and, although he didn't have to pay that nasty old $15.00 registration fee anymore because he was a senior citizen, surely he wouldn't mind paying the $40.00 application fee that all the other good little people of the City of New Orleans were eager to pay for the privilege of parking their evacuation four-wheelers on the historic pitted streets of America's Crescent City.

Of course, he wouldn't. He was thrilled to do his part and pay for his God-given right to purchase and own such taxable property as a car. He filled out his form. He gathered his paperwork. He put it all together in a big yellow envelope, dropped a personal check into the mix, mailed it away, and waited.

He waited.

After three weeks with no word, he telephoned the offices of the Residential Parking Permit Program and spoke to a lady who told him his paperwork was not in order. It seems he had substituted his telephone bill in place of his energy bill. That wouldn't do. The rules clearly stated he needed to send a copy of his energy bill. He explained that the energy bill was in my name - not his, and that was why he sent his phone bill instead. Oh, that was too bad. Well, then, what about a lease?

Yes, he had a lease.

Send us that, the lady told him.

He did, along with a letter from his landlord certifying that he did, in fact, live where he said he lived - and had lived here since 1985.

He waited.

A week later, he telephoned the offices of the Residential Parking Permit Program again and inquired into the status of his application. The lady on the other end of the phone told him that Miss Wilson handled status calls, but she didn't come to work until ten o'clock. Try back later.

He did.

The lady on the other end of the phone told him Miss Wilfred didn't seem to be in yet. He could leave his number, and she would call back when she arrived.

He did. She didn't.

He waited.

He called back the next day. Miss Wilson-fred was in and took his call. She found it hard to believe he'd lived in the same place since 1985. Nevertheless, Bob told her that he had. So where, she asked him, was his current lease? He explained that our landlord required a one-year lease upon moving in, but that upon the first-year anniversary of that lease, it rolled over into a month-by-month arrangement. Besides, there was the letter from the landlord ...

Miss Wilfred-son said they would take it under advisement and get back to him.

He waited.

Time hauled itself relentlessly through the mud of summer into the last week of July. Still, there was no Parking Permit. Bobby dialed that old familiar number once again.

"Oh, that's all been processed. Your permit's in the mail."

"But the check still hasn't cleared my bank."

"Don't know how they handle that, but the permit's in the mail. It's in the hands of the Postmaster now. It's all up to him."

"But if I don't have it by the end of the month, I'll start getting tickets."

"No, you have a month's grace period to renew."

"Well, all right, I'll wait ..."

He waited.

Today, he called again and asked to speak to a supervisor and was switched over to a Miss Emory. He told his tale. When he was finished, Miss Emory told him, first of all, his drivers license was no good really. Why, her license said she lived in Gretna, but she didn't. It only said that so she could get cheaper insurance. Why should the City accept a drivers license?

Bobby thanked her and called his City Councilwoman, Kristin Gisleson Palmer, and spoke to her secretary. He repeated the pitiful history once again. Councilwoman Palmer's secretary said she understood his frustration and would look into it and call him back.

He's waiting.

He may be in this strange in-between place between reality and non-existence, but he's waiting, ever mindful of the fact that the renewal notice the Residential Parking Permit people sent to him was sent through the mail to the address those same people don't seem to believe he lives at. But he got it.

In the old dreamy book about Wonderland, Alice faced a truculent adversary in the Red Queen, a vain and arrogant little person, drunk with power. Sadly, for her, though, the Red Queen turned out to be nothing more than a playing card, one of fifty-two.

I've also read that something - can't  remember what it is right now - comes to those who wait.

And Bobby's waiting.


  1. If I didn't know that you and Bobby lived in New Orleans, I would have swore this story took place in the land of uber-bureaucracy, Italy.

  2. Even to the extent of a bureaucrat admitting fraud to prove that people lie?

  3. Yep, Italy. France comes in at a close second.

  4. "I've also read that something - can't  remember what it is right now - comes to those who wait."

    In the immortal words of Lemmy (from Motorhead): "All things come to those who wait--but these days most things suck."
    Sorry, I was reminded...  ;-)


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