December 8, 2013 by kmwelden
I have a chronically bad habit of getting parking tickets. I get way more parking tickets than the average person ever should. On top of this, I also have the terrible habit of waiting over 30 days to pay them; thus, I allow the ticket amount to double.
My line of thinking is always that by the time something happens where I have to pay my accumulated tickets (I apply for a residential parking sticker, I reach the amount where I have to pay or my car gets the boot, I have business at the DMV, etc. There’s no reason to pay those things unless you have to. Okay– that was a very stupid thing to say. Let’s move on.), I’ll have suddenly come into a windfall of cash where dropping hundreds of dollars of parking tickets is no biggie.
This strategy hasn’t worked out for me so well in the past.
A personal milestone for me in achieving adulthood will be when I go for a year or longer without getting any parking tickets. Responsible adults can handle following all posted rules about parking time limits, etc. And, clearly, I’m not yet a responsible adult.
Regardless, my parking ticket habit recently caught up to me when I received TWO parking tickets within FOUR HOURS of one another. Both were for “No valid Colorado plates.” Both were for $75, a sum which would double if I didn’t pay within 30 days. With the prospect of $300 in accumulated parking tickets for a single day, I put on my “responsible adult” shoes (they click loudly when I walk around. It makes me feel very important), and marched myself to the DMV to figure my shit out.
Perhaps it’s also relevant to mention that my tags were three months expired. Perhaps it’s also relevant to mention I had no idea where those little stickers came from or what they actually represented. After gathering all the necessary paperwork to register my car in Colorado (like, a million sheets of paper. I also had to forge my father’s signature, but that’s not really relevant), I waltzed into the DMV, heels clicking, prepared to switch my plates and avoid the wrath of the Denver parking enforcement, which by this point I was convinced was tracking me around the city, waiting to pummel me with illegitimate (and occasionally legitimate) tickets.
I presented all my paperwork with a flourish and waited while the bored clerk filled in my information to the computer.
“Two nine seven seventy three,” he finally spat out, and I gasped like an old lady who had just been charged twelve dollars for a movie ticket. You know what I’m talking about.
“Just to clarify,” I choked, “You do mean $297.73. As in, almost three hundred dollars? In addition to these two parking tickets I haven’t yet paid?”
He smirked at me and said, “Yep,” with a sense of inordinate pleasure that I simply did NOT appreciate.
I paid the total with a lump in my throat, and when I left with my new Colorado plates (very stylish, BTW) and registration stickers, I called my mother and immediately began bawling in the parking lot. She reassured me that the DMV’s goal in life is to make me miserable, and how I shouldn’t take it all personally.
She calmed me down enough to convince me to drive to the magistrate of parking tickets, to try and get out of the two tickets. The “judge” made me feel like a complete idiot, and I did start rambling about how “my parents recently got divorced” and that’s why my registration was expired (my parents divorced almost four years ago. Not really sure why that was the first excuse I could think of). She was not amused at the 22-year-old in front of her blaming her (my) own blatant irresponsibility on her parents, and the judgment radiating towards me from across her desk was palpable. However, she did eventually reduce both of the tickets by half. Perhaps the way I couldn’t quit rambling and seemed like I was teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown made her do it. Kind of like this paragraph.
Later, when I was explaining this entire debacle to my friend Hannah, she interrupted me gently. “Kait,” she began. “I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this before, but you have to pay taxes on your car.” Calmly and patiently, she explained to me the process of paying taxes on new cars until you own it, and how this random $300 charge at the DMV wasn’t going to just be a one-time occurrence.
My heart sank.
“Don’t feel bad,” she said. “Our dads took care of this for us. I used to think there was a car-registration fairy that brought those stickers, too.”
I have the suspicious feeling that this won’t be the first of many adult-like things that I have to do that I HAVE NO IDEA EVEN EXIST YET. Alas, for now, I will control what I can control, and that is avoiding parking tickets. Today marks the eleventh day I’m ticket-free. 354 days to go, people.
Adulthood, here I come.