The Road Goes On Forever…

August 25, 2009 at 1:41 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  …And the Party never ends…

  Speaking of anarchy, I am close to getting the tags for my car finally.  I don’t want to shake the Magic 8 Ball and ask when, but–
  Earlier in the week, I got my safety inspection, kind of.  I mean, I wasn’t there, or anything, and neither was the car, but I got it.  How?  Why, magic, of course.
  Wednesday I went to the Mobile station right by Domino’s and got my emissions inspection.  You can’t really cheat on that–the best you can hope for is to get a waiver after you dump money into it and it still doesn’t pass; they want to see the effort.  Or the money spent.  In a word:  whatever.
  Friday after work I picked up my black market safety inspection and put the sticker in the windshield immediately.  I was ready.  Saturday morning, I’m going to get to the license office early and get this taken care of.
  My eyes are always bigger than my stomach on Saturday morning.  I want to get so much done.  I figure I can get up early, plant the north forty, rebuild an engine and remodel the basement, and then maybe knock off a piece before lunch.  Then lunch, then a nap.  Optimistically, I set my alarm for 530 am.  I can hit the snooze a few times, and be up by 6 am.  No Problem.
  A little after eight I rolls my sorry ass out bed.  Fuck me.  The best laid plans–or best plans for getting laid–never go as planned.
  Sometimes its tough to wake up.  I do my routine–go out and get coffee, pick up some donuts–and come back and slowly wake up in front of the TV.  The place is only open from 9am to noon on Saturday, which is just long enough to stand in line for a long time before they close the window on you.  Right?  So my original plan is to go up there about a quarter of, and stand in line like all the other old people.
  A quarter till rolls around, and I can’t make myself do it.  I can’t…commit to accepting that I am that old.  Plus, I reason, if I wait until they open, they have chairs inside to sit on.  No actual standing in the "standing in line."  Besides, I’m in the middle of a cigar, it can wait.
  I drive up about 920.
  Like an armed centurion (or a roided-up bouncer) the number machine greets me with no expression at the door.  I am number 378.  I look on the wall and they are on…
  No, actually, they are on 333.  Fun.  I take a seat.  Among the things that pass through my mind–porn, calculus, aardvarks–I think about both the likenesses and differences between this place and the donut shop from earlier this morning.
  Old Town Donuts is just an awesome place.  It epitomizes the Florissant Experience, I think.  I was happy to see some stickers in the window–2009 Best Donut Shop in St Louis.  Damn Skippy.  I’m so glad it’s a real place with people I actually know, rather than some hip odd place down in the city where everyone drinks those snooty coffees and they don’t actually serve donuts.  They have scones and croissants, but if you really want a donut they can scowl at you and run across the street to the gas station and get you one. 
  And everyone is dressed normally.  No socks-with-sandals wearing freaks or other post modern beatnik hipsters with multiple reasons for a tetanus booster.
  It’s a family owned, place, and on Saturday and Sunday morning the owner is right in there, you betcha.  He has a lot of young kids in there working the counter from there in the neighborhood,  including one of my friend Bunny’s daughters.  Everyone in the community knows and supports him.  To visit there on an early morning is to know the heart of the town I live in.  Aaahh.  Deep sigh of community satisfaction…
  And I’m back in the license office.
  Even if this is the seedy underbelly–or the belly of the beast–it’s still not too bad.  I remember about 20-some odd years ago when I first moved here, talking with my cousin Gina (one of Cousin Joey’s older sisters) and she said "Florissant is TOTALLY boring.  Nothing ever happens here."
  As an adult, I find that comforting.
  Just normal people, sitting in chairs with numbers.  A cross section of the community.  An old fat chick in front of me with a cane.  To the left, a cute black chick with some tats.  To the right, a tough biker-looking dude.  Behind me, miscellaneous continued. 
   Everyone seemed to be–the mood was calm and relaxed.  No anger or anxiety.  This is how things are done.  I can hardly wait for Obama-care, when I need to get stitches in my foot because I drop a hammer and the claw goes through the top of my foot (it happened to my dad once; chances are, I’ll do it too) and I get to go and pull a number and wait.  It’ll be better if it’s on a Saturday or after hours, when there is a sign that comes back during business hours, M-F 8-5, closed from noon-1 for lunch. 
  At least it’ll be "free." 
  Christ, don’t get me started.
  So I sat, watching the numbers tick down.  Or up.  I read the news on my phone and then played a game until my battery died.  Then we were in the high 350s.  It went fairly fast sometimes; if someone was missing they would call out a number, pause, then call out the next.
  "359!  Three fifty-nine!…Three sixty!  Three sixty!  Three sixty one!"
  "Whoa, whoa!  I’m 360!  I couldn’t get up here very fast."  It was a young woman pushing a stroller.
  Finally, into the 370s.  Biker dude is gone, replaced by a middle-aged black guy.  Cute black chick is gone, replaced by a cute Hispanic-looking chick.  Behind me, a guy in a suit.  A young girl walked by in front, looking too young to be getting her license for the first time, nevertheless she was.  Geez.
  Finally, my number is up.  Sounds kind of final, doesn’t it?  My number is called, and I wanted to jump up and shout, "Bingo!"  I didn’t, but I did get up quickly and start over to her, so she would know it was me she wanted.
  I pull out all the documents.  I felt like a foreigner being stopped at the border in Russia during the Cold War.  "Papers!" they would order, harshly and crisply.  Plainly, they were used to having their orders followed.
  Fumbling, I pull all the documents from my overcoat.  It is raining, turning to snow.  The German Sheppards are barking, and being held back by chains.  The line proceeds without end behind me, and children are crying as they are comforted by their mothers.  Fathers somberly hold on to their families, while water drips down their hats and snow gathers on their shoulders while they try to protect their blood and kin from this unstoppable force of bureaucracy.
  As the tanks rumble by, troops stop their goosestepping march and wait, then continue with determination, sloshing through the rain and mud.
  The lieutenant continued to glare icily at me as I pulled out my papers.  Dropping some on the wet ground I mumbled an apology and quickly stooped to get them.  The guard held a machine gun on me the entire time, hoping he would get to shoot someone, if only to break up the boredom.
  "Papers!"  he repeated, in a tone that suggested he did not like to repeat himself.  I handed the jumbled mess of papers to him, hoping he would not spot the forgeries–and hoping my expression did not give away the fact that I hoped he did not spot them.
  "Where is your title!"  He screamed at me.  "You must have the title!"
  "I’m sorry?"  I was jostled back to the present day, standing at the desk at the license office.
  The nice lady responded, "You’re here to pay the sales tax, right?  You need to have the title to the car."
  I looked in the envelope from the dealer.  "Everything they gave me was in here.  If it’s not in here, they didn’t give it to me."
  "The law in Missouri is that you have to have the title for registration.  Just go down there and see if they have it laying around, and come back.  You won’t have to wait in line again, just come up and see me."
  I thanked her and left.  I walked casually out and then made sure no one was watching.  As a truck rolled past, I dropped to the ground and rolled into the ditch.  I removed my wire cutters that had escaped their spot search–I sweated through that one–and cut a hole in the fence.  After the headlights passed, I eased my body through.  I had escaped!
  I was *not* coming back.  They’ll never take me alive…
  I drove down to the car dealer that I bought the Mercedes from fourteen months ago.  The guy on the front porch was politely unhelpful.  The business office was closed, I needed to call on Monday and talk to the office manager.  "Great," I said.  "Can you get me a card so I have the number?"
  I wasn’t buying a car from him, so he didn’t really feel motivated to help me.  The other salesman came around the corner and gave me a card.  "Here, use this.  The number to the office is on here."  I thanked him.  If the other asshole had only known what I had just been through–

  I return home, and enter through the garage.  I had hoped to return home triumphant, with my shield (or license plates) instead of on it.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone, so I started in on the garage, newly focused to just get something accomplished since so far today had been a bust.

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