Ticket-Happy

     I swear I think my town’s entire financial well-being must come from the money it generates from parking tickets.  I don’t know if there’s a grand prize giveaway to whoever gives out the most tickets or what, but it seems that the cops are more than just a little ticket-happy around here.  I can’t tell you how many tickets I’ve gotten just parked in front of my own damn house!  And when I got a “Final Notice” in the mail yesterday about a ticket I’d never even received, well, I about hit the fan.

     In most of the towns around me, you are required to have a special parking sticker displayed on your windshield in order to park on the street. These little suckers will set you back a whopping $80 a year. We are always very disciplined about purchasing our stickers & slapping them up on the windshield asap in order to avoid paying a ridiculously stupid fine.  And you most certainly will get busted, too, if you don’t keep those puppies current.  (We know this from firsthand experience.)  The little ticket guys honest to goodness go out in their little jeeps on the day the stickers expire and purposely look for cars that haven’t made the switch.  (As if they have nothing better to do with their time.)  

     Another senseless rule that is strictly enforced is the “No Parking” ordinance on leaf pick-up days in the fall.  In our town, everyone rakes their leaves into a big pile on the sides of the streets, and on certain days, the city sends around trucks to collect all the piles. Sounds all good and dandy, right?  It definitely is convenient, however, you have to figure out where to move your cars, because everyone has detached garages around here.  Most people can only fit one car (if they’re lucky) into their garages, so everyone is usually scrambling to find a spot in the alleys.  And if you forget to move your car off the street the night before a leaf pick-up day, look out! Those little ticket dudes are out in full force at the first crack of dawn to nail your ass, and there’s nothing worse than walking out of your own freaking house to find a $35 ticket sitting on your car.

     The winter months bring a whole other set of circumstances that force you to fork over even more money to the village government.   Since it tends to snow here pretty much non-stop for a good four or five months straight, we have to deal with the whole hassle of having to move our cars for the plows to clear the streets.  The bitch of it all is that one side of the street says you can’t park there if there’s more than two inches of snow, and the other side says you can’t park there during “winter precipitation events.”  What are “winter precipitation events” you ask?  Hell if I know, but according to the village, it basically means any kind of weather that’s not sunny.  Snow, sleet, even rain apparently constitutes “winter precipitation.”  One time last winter, it started snowing in the middle of the night, and we woke up to a big, fat ticket on our car.  When I called to complain, they said we were given the ticket for not moving our car for this so-called “winter precipitation event.”  Believe you me, I laid into this idiotic woman on the other end of the line.  I asked her if she honestly expected me to watch the weather forecast all throughout the overnight hours and then get up at the first sign of a snowflake to move my damn car.  Talk about a crock of shit!  After hearing an ear full from me, she finally told me she’d waive the ticket.

     So, yesterday, when I saw this letter from the village saying it was my final notice to pay this mysterious ticket that I’d supposedly been given back in June, I was pissed, to say the least.  It was the first I’d ever even heard about it!  I called the police department to find out what the ticket was even for, and the woman told me it was for parking my car with the left side against the curb, facing the wrong direction.  I suddenly had a flashback to a time during the summer when I went to pick my son up from a playdate and had quickly pulled up on the left side of the street.  I stood at the front door of this house for no more than three minutes and turned around to find one of the little ticket-writing a-holes walking over to my car.  I ran out to explain that I was leaving right then and there, and he agreed to not give me the ticket.  So, I explained this whole ordeal to the woman on the phone, and she said that the bastard had actually written and submitted the ticket even after he told me he wouldn’t!  She actually felt bad and said that he sometimes turns tickets in even if he’s agreed to dismiss them.  (Uh, I think maybe you might want to replace this idiot with someone who hasn’t completely lost their mind. Just a thought, though.) Luckily, the woman had mercy on me and relinquished the ticket, but if I wouldn’t have spoken up for myself, I would’ve been forced to hand over another $35 to the city once again.  

     If you ask me, it’s all a frickin’ money-making scheme.  I swear that some higher up political know-it-all is driving some sweet-ass car into his five-car garage in his ten bedroom mansion with all the money he’s collected from the unknowing saps that just go ahead and pay for unjustified parking tickets in our community.  It makes me sick.  We pay a crap ton of property taxes to live here that should seriously count for something.  But, since the situation unfortunately seems that it is what it is, I’ll just continue to be the squeaky wheel and try my best to stand up for my oil when I know that I’m in the right.

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Pumpkin Patch

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     My kids have been bugging the hell out of me to get a pumpkin since they first saw them on display at the grocery store back in early September (because apparently, we have to wheel out all the decorative crap at least one to three months BEFORE an actual holiday anymore).  So, this past weekend, I promised them that we’d make a trip over to the pumpkin patch to get their long-awaited pumpkins. And, like most things these days, it didn’t end up to be the fun-filled adventure that I’d envisioned.    

     The “pumpkin patch” is actually just the front lawn of a local church here in town.  All of the profits go towards different charities. In fact, the sign in front of it says, “Our pumpkins help people.”  This idea totally appealed to me because I wouldn’t actually feel like I was throwing money away  when I look out the front door in a few days and see a possy of squirrels going to town on our jack-o-lanterns. My pumpkins may be mutilated, but I helped people, dammit!  

     So, the search was on for the perfect pumpkins.  My daughter wanted a tall, skinny one, and my son wanted a big, round one.  They must have inspected every friggin’ pumpkin there trying to find exactly what they were looking for.  Pumpkins were rolling here, pumpkins were rolling there, and I thought for sure that I was gonna end up having to pay for a bunch of damaged goods.  Eventually, the kiddos found two that met their standards, as well as two other smaller ones that they somehow talked me into buying.  (Yes, I am a sucker.)  I tracked down a wagon, and we loaded it with our findings.

     It was at this time that I realized that our car was parked clear around the corner, and I was gonna have to juggle four pumpkins and two kids across oncoming traffic. Now, I may be one of the world’s greatest multi-taskers, but ain’t no way that scenario was gonna play out successfully.  So, I asked the man at the checkout table if I could leave my pumpkins there while I moved the car around.  He agreed, and I dragged the kids back to the car.  In the short amount of time it took to move the car, the kids must’ve asked me damn near seventy-five times if they could hold their little pumpkins on the way home.   

     I pulled up to the curb, and the very nice checkout man helped me load the car.  As I was thanking him, I decided to ask about the charities that benefit from their sales, and he gave me a handout with about ten different organizations that they serve.  He was right in the middle of telling me all about his favorite charity when my extremely impatient children decided to roll down the car windows and yell my name OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER again.  I didn’t want to interrupt the guy when he was so passionately describing this beneficiary, so I nonchalantly tried to wave my hand behind my back to shush them. This only seemed to add fuel to their fire, and the cries grew even louder.  I was so embarrassed that I actually had to stop him and tell my kids to pipe down.  I was absolutely furious on the inside, but I tried like hell not to let it show on the outside. I slapped a fake smile on my face and pretended to listen as he continued.  When the kids turned their volume up to full-blast, he finally took this as his cue to thank me and walk away.  I held my breath and counted to fifty before I got back in the car to let my kids have it.  

     They started in with their demands to hold their pumpkins, but I quickly squashed that idea altogether.  I explained how incredibly rude they were being and gave a whole glorious speech about the importance of giving to others in need.  Although I’m quite sure it all went in one ear and out the other, I at least said my peace, and we drove home with the pumpkins in the very back of the car all by their lonesomes. And just like that, my idea for a warm and fuzzy fall adventure was smashed like a pumpkin.

The Costume Conundrum

     Since it is now officially Fall and also since the stores are all but shoving the merchandise down our throats, thoughts of Halloween keep creeping into my mind.   It’s gotten me to thinking about the yearly debacle we always seem to have when it comes to finding the perfect costume.  My daughter is typically a piece of cake when it comes to this department.  She usually chooses something easy that I can just order out of a catalog or buy from a store.  My son, on the other hand, is quite the challenge, since for the past three years, he has insisted on dressing like something that can only be handmade. What’s the big freaking deal, you ask?  This mama’s sewing capabilities are about as good as Paris Hilton’s singing abilities.  I suck so badly at it that I actually sewed the pocket shut when trying to repair a button on a coat one time.  So, yeah, it is a big freaking deal when your son insists on having the most imaginative get-up in town.

     The first year that I encountered this predicament was in preschool.  My husband and I must’ve listed every costume known to mankind when trying to get him to settle on something.  We were pushing Spiderman, Batman, and every other superhero under the sun, all to vehement cries that said no way in hell.  The child refused every single idea we came up with and announced pretty emphatically that he was going to be a leaf.  I have absolutely no idea where on earth the boy got this crazy notion, but he was dead set on being a piece of foliage. And he didn’t want to be just any old leaf either — oh no!  He insisted on being an oak leaf.  After hours of Google searching, I came to the dire conclusion that I had no other choice but to make this damn costume myself.  I ended up tracing and cutting two pieces of cardboard into the shape of a leaf and hot-gluing green felt to them. I attached the two leaves with a ribbon so that he could wear it like a walking billboard.  He was adamant that he wanted acorns attached to the leaves, so I also had to glue those little suckers on, as well. When all was said and done, it was truly the most half-assed-looking, pitiful leaf ensemble I’d ever seen — correction, it was the only leaf ensemble I’d ever seen.  Here, you judge for yourself:

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Nevertheless, the kid couldn’t have been more proud to strut his stuff in it. Sadly, he didn’t have the thing on at preschool for more than thirty minutes before acorns started falling off and one of the straps had snapped off his shoulder, resulting in some last minute emergency repairs before trick-or-treating that night.  

     Our next confrontation with the costume challenge was last year for kindergarten. Once again, my son rejected any type of costume that could be bought or slopped together.  Instead, he was dead-set on being a lightbulb, and like the year before, I found  no place on this planet whatsoever that sold a lightbulb outfit.  And because the kindergarteners would be parading through the school in their costumes and wearing them for the remainder of the day, using cardboard was not gonna be a viable option.  After days of agonizing and brain racking, I realized that I was gonna have to just suck it up and get out my needle and thread.  I went to a fabric store and bought a huge piece of foam and cut out two lightbulb shapes.  I then sewed white fabric around them and again made shoulder straps to attach the two shapes together.  This whole thing could then be slipped over his head, thus transforming him miraculously into a human lightbulb.  (Of course, I poked the shit out of my fingers throughout the entire process and even “accidentally” left a couple of red stains on the material as proof of all the blood, sweat and tears that went into its creation.)  At the request of my ingenious son, I took a sharpie and wrote “100 Watt” at the top of each bulb. We then wrapped the skinny bottom part in duct tape and stuck a battery-powered light underneath the costume.  Here was the final result:

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Surprisingly, it actually turned out incredibly cute, and he was by far the most creative costume in the parade.  

     This year, it seems as if he is continuing with this same tradition. He is bound and determined to cut his mama absolutely no slack whatsoever and has made up his mind to be a friggin’ t.v.!!!  So, it looks like the ole’ seamstress will be slaving away once again.  I suppose I gotta hand it to the kid for not being afraid to think outside the box.  He is definitely not what I would catagorize as boring.  The boy sure knows how to put the “wee!” in Halloween, and I gotta give him mad props for that.