A few weeks ago, as I was leaving work, I was pulled over.
I had a burned out headlight, and given how incoherent I was after a 14 hour day, I’m surprised the cop didn’t haul me out and administer a field sobriety test, but he just gave me a fix-it ticket.
As he was finishing up, he told me I could go to any police station in the city to get a sign-off on the repair, and then go to any courthouse in the county to pay the small fine.
Sweet. I currently reside within a ten minute walk of both a police station and a (small) courthouse.
I figured I’d get the headlight fixed, get it inspected, then get it off the books and not even have to burn a gallon of very expensive (for America) gas.
So this morning, I rolled up to the West LA police station, ticket in hand, and asked at the desk to have someone check my car.
I was met with blank stares from the attending officers.
After an uncomfortably long pause, one of the civilian volunteers said “I’ve got this” and handed me a sheet explaining that the LAPD isn’t authorized to inspect vehicles and I’d have to drive to one of the county sheriffs’ inspection stations to get my signature.
Except that the nearest inspection station happens to be in Beverly Hills.
I hate driving in Beverly Hills.
Under normal circumstances, the traffic is horrific because it’s apparently déclassé to time one’s stop lights, but now it’s springtime and the tourist bloom is beginning.
In spring and summer, the normally crowded streets of Beverly Hills become impossibly clogged with tour busses and rental cars.
Which is great – the city and the county greatly appreciate your visit and your tax revenue, but residents tend to snap when traffic speeds drop from ‘slow crawl’ to ‘perambulate’.
This results in tempers accelerating from ‘recreational asshole’ to ‘nuclear war’.
Generally, I prefer to bike or bus it through the area – I can either sail past the problem or be encased in the T.Rex of vehicles and be safe from random punchings or headlocks.
But, if I must drive into the fray, 10 am on a weekday is a good time to do so.
Rush hour’s mostly over, and the lunchers haven’t started stalking parking spaces.
So, off I went – thinking I’d get inspected and paid off and then be back home in time to catch the afternoon talk shows.
I guess I wasn’t surprised when the clerk told me that although I got my inspection in Beverly Hills, because my officer had checked the ‘Chatsworth’ box on the ticket, that’s where I’d have to go to pay the fine.
To those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, Chatsworth is not near anything.
Not a freeway off ramp, not any sort of landmark, not any sort of train or bus stop or life support.
So because I’d tried to save gas by not driving, I then drove to the edge of civilization.
Where I stood in line for what seemed like an eternity behind a woman arguing with anyone who would listen that her failure to appear for her court date wasn’t her fault because she’d lost her phone and had written the judge a letter proving her innocence.
Lucky for me another window opened and I paid my $25 and then fought traffic back home.
I have work tomorrow (non-union, but it pays and it’s with a bunch of guys that I really like), and since I’m going downtown I’m going to take the bus.
I’ve had enough of the car for now.