Be a Friend

June 8th was National Best Friends Day, and in celebration of that I will follow the old saying “If you want a friend, be a friend”. I could not consider myself a good friend unless I shared with you all an experience my husband and I had last week. If it saves ONE person the heartache, the headache, the backpain and the severe gastrointestinal reaction, I will know that I am a true friend.
My husband was driving through Las Juntas last week, minding his own business, when he was pulled over by state police and relieved of his (my) car. They took it from him for the grave infraction of sporting a protective, transparent covering over the license plates.
He called me immediately, and I actually snorted over the phone when he told me. I mean, c’mon. Removing someone’s car because of a clear covering over a license plate? This isn’t believable, and therefore I thought it was funny. His abrupt reaction to this made me understand that it wasn’t a joke, because he normally a very patient man. I went to pick him up because he was left standing on a street corner. He looked very, very bothered, and very, very car-less.
The next day he took his identification and the car circulation card and went to pay the fine and pick up the car at UNIRSE, the district government office in Fluvial. We expected to wrap this up that morning, because that seems reasonable. Let me tell you something. This was not at all reasonable. And this is not even close to what happened (as you might have guessed, because I still have about 300 words left in this article).
What really happened is that he called me to leave my job and pick up about twenty pieces of paper that he was missing, including the car’s bill of sale (factura) that could not be older than thirty days, so it also involved a visit to the dealership. We hit the paper supply store to make copies of EVERYTHING. And then we waited exactly two hours in a very long line to pay a forty-two peso fine. That’s right. The infraction that sent us into the meat grinder of bureaucracy cost less than a small Starbucks latte (and boy, did I ever need one by the time we finished).
We weren’t finished, though. After that we had to take the receipt and line up again with the transit office (in the same building) in order to present our paperwork. One hour later, we reached the front to be told that we were missing one piece of pivotal evidence. I need you to read this line people: the car’s permission to circulate is not enough. You MUST have the receipt that says you paid for the car’s permission to circulate. Even though you would never, ever, ever have the permission had you never paid. And trust me, I tried to point out this fact to the traffic officer on the other side of the desk and I am the only one who laughed, albeit as humorlessly as I have ever laughed. Because guess where that receipt was?
In my impounded car.
We received a special scrap of stamped paper in order to enter our impounded car, so we went to the tow truck business that had possession of it. The keys were there. The car was not. The car was across town in their warehouse, so we had to go there and remove the paper. By then, the transit office was closed. Can you hear my bark of a laugh right now?
In the morning, we were the first in line. We were not really smiling, but we were not unfriendly. Our papers were finally accepted, and they told us they would make the liberation certificate while we waited (two more hours).
Once we went back to the tow truck office and received our keys (after paying over 1,400 pesos for the privilege), we were once again directed across town for our car.
Guys. I consider you friends, and I beg you to go outside right now and make sure that your license plate is free of any covers, frames, dust motes, or flea tracks. Learn all the rules, even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant of regulations.
Don’t let us have lost two days of work for nothing. Don’t let my current gastric reflux condition be in vain. We’re friends, after all.

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