Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Myriad Ways that the Universe is Unfair

First, it is our Spring Break, and the weather is beautiful. It went up into the 80's today. But my thesis script is due on the Monday we get back from Spring Break, so needless to say, I'm not doing too many things that are Spring Breaky. Instead, I'm sitting at my desk like one big panic attack inside a body.

And that body has a sore toe. So today I took it to the doctor on campus, who suspects I injured it in some way, that the nail will eventually fall off, and that it's infected. She gave me a prescription for some antibiotics. The doctor's office was my big outing for the day. But on the way home I passed a little farmer's market, and it was so nice out, that I thought "I'm going to take another twenty minutes to be happy before returning to my writing dungeon."

I parked at a meter, but it said "Fail." I've heard rumors that you can get a ticket for parking at out of order meters, so I got back in the car and moved to the next meter. I figured I'd only need fifteen minutes to traverse the half block and buy some oranges, but, again, I really live in fear of tickets, so I put in two quarters. This gave me a little extra time to chat with the chatty sprouts guy who plays his saxophone to his sprouts when they're growing. And a minute to sample a Cermoya fruit and buy one for Paul. Then I got us tamales. I thought "this is nice. I'm in the sun, I'm supporting local businesses, spending just a little bit of money. I'm choosing to be happy for this bit of time."

Then I got back to my car to find the ancient cop printing a ticket for my car. Apparently, in all the blocks of two-hour meters, I was at a 15 minute only meter. I'd been gone perhaps...17 minutes? I think the cop was so old that he couldn't walk very far, so maybe he just stood there and waited for my meter to expire.

Ticket = $50.
My hourly wage = $8.
My current stress/anxiety level about my career/health/money/life in general = 10000000000000000000000.

I got in the car and started sobbing. I don't do that very often, so perhaps it had been building for awhile. I screamed and cried all the way home on the freeway. People were looking at me weird through their car windows.

Experiences like this makes me hate the government. It should probably make me hate something more specific than that, but really it's all encompassing. Our city is going broke. Health care--even with reforms if they go through, is a mangled mess. Politicians routinely lie to us, and help bail out big corporations who fuck up and also lie to us. Everyone gets to make mistakes... except for regular citizens who just try to follow their stupid rules and pay their taxes and hope that maybe in return the government or the corporations will like them and fix the roads and make sure kids don't get shot while they're playing basketball, but all we get in return is this kind of rigid "give me mine," attitude. They make an arbitrary rule, like a parking fine, and it's not about making the city a better place. It's not there in a spirit of goodwill. It's like "the city" whoever that is, hates me. It doesn't exist to serve me, it just tolerates my existence because I'm a source of revenue.

After I'd screamed and cried to about San Vicente, I tried to reason with myself, telling myself it could be so much worse. I practiced being thankful that I wasn't in a bad car accident, or that I hadn't just been diagnosed with toe cancer (which of course I had been worried about--Bob Marley died of it you know).

But this kind of "either/or" thinking, though I practice it--purposely even--I know is self-deceptive. Events aren't related in that way. It's not "either toe cancer or a parking ticket." Even if I had just been diagnosed with toe cancer, that man would still have given me a parking ticket. Crap happens, and then more crap happens. If less crap happens, then you are lucky, but it has nothing to do with the universe being fair, or looking out for you.

Or maybe it does. I don't know.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, I can totally and absolutely relate to all of this. I think parking tickets are a barometer of life circumstances. If they serve any purpose at all it's that they strip away the self-pacifying we do daily and give us a chance to get real and cathartic about what's happening in our lives. If you think about it that way, you just got yourself a bargain $50 therapy session wherein you could really get raw and let your stress and anxiety out honestly.

    I just made all of that up, but there's something about having a good old-fashioned freak out, scream, cry, and cursing session that helps you stay on rails.

    That's the positive spin I have for you. Also, I do plan on suing the city one day for their terrible behavior. Think of that ticket as an investment with the hopes of a nice return.