Monday, February 21, 2005

Ghost in the Machine

Brian

I was reflecting on the memory of Hunter S. Thompson today when I recalled an interaction I had with the Parking Authority of the City of Palo Alto a few years back. They issued me a parking ticket, so I issued them a letter:

Re: Citation Number XXXXXXXXXXX

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing regarding a parking ticket that was issued on 14 Dec 2001. The ticket was issued to my car in a public parking garage in downtown Palo Alto, apparently because my car does not have a permit.

I wish to contest this violation on the grounds that it was not made readily ascertainable that the lot required a permit. The lot was advertised as public parking, which I assumed meant for those who do not have a permit. The stall in which I parked was not marked with any indications concerning the requirement of a permit to park there.

I was completely surprised to find a ticket on my windshield when I returned to my car. I am not a Palo Alto resident, and so I was not readily aware of the minutiae of which public lots are actually reserved for the public and which are not. I do know that certain other people I have talked to have parked in the same structure before—legally, they assumed—and did not receive tickets. This contributed to my sense of security about the legality of my parking.

Please withdraw the charges against me. I will steer clear of that parking structure in the future, now that I can be certain I am not welcome there.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[The Good Reverend]

They responded to my letter by claiming that not only was it too late for me to challenge my citation, but also a late fee had been added to my balance, and I had to remit an additional twenty dollars. Faced with the prospect of fighting City Hall, I acquiesced, with a nod to good Hunter:

Re: Citation Number XXXXXXXXXXX

Dear Sir or Madam:

Past the date to contest a citation? Past the date to enact justice? I don’t like your tactics and I Fear you. Here is your dirty money.

Sincerely,

[The Good Reverend]

I paid the citation in full. In fact, I overpaid by two cents, just to annoy them. They sent me back my two pennies taped to the receipt. Then, inexplicably, they sent a collection agency after me:

Re: Citation Number XXXXXXXXXXX

To Whom It May Concern:

I received an “Assigned for Collections” letter from Professional Recovery Systems on March 9, 2002. I received this letter in error because I had already completed payment on the citation directly through the City of Palo Alto. However, when I contacted Professional Recovery Systems today, Linda told me that the account was still open and that as far as they knew my payment was still due. I informed her that I had already paid the City of Palo Alto in full, but she said that she needed to be contacted by the City to close the account. I sent them a copy of the receipt that I received from your office and advised them to contact your office to resolve the matter.

The bill for postage on that letter comes to a total of $0.34, as does the postage on this letter. In addition, I was charged $0.17 for the two copies I made at Kinko’s. The expenses are outlined below.

Postage for letter to PRS $0.34

Postage for this letter $0.34

Copies from Kinko’s $0.17

Total $0.85

Since these payments are a direct result of the failure of the City of Palo Alto to resolve matters with Professional Recovery Systems, I feel it is the responsibility of the City of Palo Alto to compensate me for them. Please remit payment of $0.85 to:

[The Good Reverend]

PO Box XXXXX

Stanford CA 94309

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[The Good Reverend]

Well that succeeded in getting the collection agency off my back, but I didn’t receive my payment from the City. So, in the spirit of the fairness of turnabout, I sent them a final letter:

Re: Citation Number XXXXXXXXXXX

To Whom It May Concern:

On March 13, 2002 I mailed to your office a letter outlining personal expenses incurred in the aftermath of a citation and the subsequent undue bureaucracy of Professional Recovery Systems, to whom you referred me. Since that time, I have neither received a response from you nor the payment ($0.85) due. Please consider this a second notice. Once again, I outline expenses below.

The bill for postage on the correction letter to Personal Recovery Systems comes to a total of $0.34, as does the postage on the March 13 letter to the City, as well as now this letter. In addition, I was charged $0.17 for the two copies I made at Kinko’s. The expenses are outlined below.

Postage for letter to PRS $0.34

Postage for March 13 letter $0.34

Postage for this letter $0.34

Copies from Kinko’s $0.17

Subtotal $1.19

Since these payments are a direct result of the failure of the City of Palo Alto to resolve matters with Professional Recovery Systems, I feel it is the responsibility of the City of Palo Alto to compensate me for them. In addition, late charges of $2.15 are now due because no payment was received within thirty days. Please remit payment of the full total, $3.34, to:

[The Good Reverend]

PO Box XXXXX

Stanford CA 94309

Failure to pay this charge in a timely manner will result in the matter being handed over to a collection agency. Thank you.

Sincerely,

[The Good Reverend]

I still haven’t received my money, and by now late charges have accrued tenfold. The passing of Mr. Thompson gives me a mind to swear out a warrant for their arrest. Damn fascists.

2 Comments:

Blogger The GraveDigger said...

Careful about calling people fascists - I heard in Malibu they will throw a coffee mug right at your face

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will not stand. This aggression will not stand, man.

--The Dude

1:37 PM  

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