It's in the basement of Old City Hall that I hit rock bottom. The women behind the bullet-proof glass looking at a computer screen begin to chuckle. Quietly at first, reserved. Then without shame, the sound of their laughter filling the room.
It's me they're laughing at. Me and my 52 unpaid parking tickets. Me and my $3,216. Me and my disregard for the law. Me and the amount of sucking up I'm going to have to do to get out of this thing.
Begins innocently It all began innocently enough. My honey and I bought a very used Subaru for $1,500. So, with the windows open, shifting gears with the best of them, driving the cutest wagon ever to hit the streets, I conquer the beast city drivers call parking. The plan? Park on the street at a meter that will, of course, be conveniently located in front of my office. And rather than clock-watch and feed the meter every two hours, I will happily get a ticket for $10, only $2 more than it would cost to park at the green P.
Clever. Provided you pay the tickets.
When notices for unpaid parking fines start arriving from the city every day in their tidy brown envelopes, I realize it's time to re-evaluate the plan. How can something so good hurt so bad?
Like a pesky student loan, they become a challenge to avoid. How long can I go before another will be sent? How many days before they repossess my car? How can I get home first every day so my partner won't find our mailbox jammed with the evidence of my laziness and obvious disregard for the future of our transportation?
The $8-a-day parking is beginning to look good, but I still have six months until my birthday. Enough time to clean up this self-inflicted mess and have no one else be the wiser.
But no. I neatly bundle all the parking ticket notices and keep them in the car -- ready to grab and pay at the bank. The teller and I will have a moment of laughter when we both realize I'm paying three times the original amount of the fines, but I'll be on the road to recovery and no longer at risk of a life on the TTC.
Ill-fated morning Ha! In the glove box they live, until one ill-fated morning my partner opens said box and finds the evidence.
As my birthday approaches and registration for what is now a pain in my ass looms, I promise to take care of it. If she can just relax, I'll have it all taken care of before my birthday, three months away.
When the time comes, in late December, the price of my lazy ass is out of control. Thousands of dollars are required before I can register the $1,500 wagon.
So, yes, unregistered I drive. I become the queen of police avoidance. But five months into this outlaw phase, I'm driving along only to notice that a car that was once in the distance is now right behind me, reading my plate. A cop. Caught.
Mild panic Reaching for my licence as he approaches my open window, I wonder who should get my one phone call from jail. After a mild panic attack and a stroke of dumb luck -- I get a nice cop -- I'm on my merry way after promising to take care of it.
Here I am at Old City Hall with the laughter of the basement ladies guiding me to the first of many lineups. After much investigation, I discover that I do have options. I can contest every ticket, plead not guilty and go to court 52 times, or I can meet with the justice of the peace and plead for the fines to be reduced to their original amount.
I choose the latter. It's less work, and how hard could it be? Fighting the urge to puke, I put my hand on the Bible and swear that what I am saying is the truth -- that my ex used my poor car when I was out of town and I am really the victim.
God love long eyelashes and their ability to bat. I get off easy. And $1,761 dollars later, I've learned a valuable lesson. It's not punk rock not to pay your parking tickets -- it's just fucking stupid.
Ticket to ride