So I was new to California

Along with a new convertible, I decide to get some personalized plates.

I could not believe my luck, when I found out that my initials “NV” (ph. “envy”) were available. Not that I think anyone would be envious of me in my Miata, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

But then, I started to get random parking tickets from Los Angeles. Where my car has never been. For every type of car. Except a Mazda. Which is what I drive. No problem, right? Just call them up, deal with a healthy level of skepticism when I tell them the ticket isn’t mine…
no really. I would ask them what make & color the ticket is for. I would ask them what make & color my car is. They would always be different. Even a highly skeptical city clerk can’t argue with that.

Then the notices of unpaid violations slowly start to come in from all over California. Because when the license plate is Not Visible, the charming traffic wardens enter “NV” as the license plate. Sometimes they would explain that it was a training issue and they would soon stop bugging me with

Then the city of Oakland has a computer upgrade. The first day I get five tickets. The next day… three. And they kept on sending them. For every type of car imaginable including BMW’s and Porsches, every car imaginable, except for a white two door Mazda.

Now I know what you are thinking, BMW’s & Porsches don’t park in Oakland. I was surprised too. But more than that, I was tired of sitting on hold for twenty minutes, waiting to talk to a skeptical city employee. So I returned the custom plates to the DMV, and someone at Oakland told me that all fifty tickets would be put under administrative review.

Problem solved? Not even. First, the DMV refused to issue me my registration, until I got a piece of paper saying I was not guilty. Then I received a notice that the Franchise Tax Board wanted to garnish my wages. Not with cilantro either. Then I get a notice stating that any tax refund I get will be going to the City of Oakland.

That is when I started feeling a little irate.

And a little wiser. I tried calling my local police department, to see if there was a bench warrant out for my arrest. The friendly officer told me that I would have to come to the office… in person. And I swear, she said this with what sounded like a straight face.

As a last resort, I started to post the story on the internet. You never know. Someone might want a collection of over fifty parking violations from seven different counties for all different makes and models. The asking price was the total owed on all the tickets… $3000.

The only thing that made me feel a little better, was that the lovely folks at Oakland told me someone driving a BMW had the license plates “NV”. So if you see a BMW owner with the plates “NV”, give him a wave. Tell him you work for the City of Oakland. For the traffic violations department. See if he goes green. You know, from envy.


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