Saturday, December 13, 2008

Your What is Missing??

I wanted to write a silly, sentimental post about hanging up Christmas lights and setting up the tree and stuff. About how I miss home when the holidays come around and how I'm getting older and I'm a dad now and all that.

But no.

It's going to be another 'Slapped in the Face' post from yours truly.

It all started this afternoon, as I was getting ready for the craft fair and six hours of sitting around in a semi-vegetative state waiting for the occasional thrill of the sale, one or two shirts to the inevitably non-Bahian passing though or relocated to Salvador, hoping to turn a profit rather than paying out of pocket for the privilege of sitting there. I was running around, agitated, as I generally get when I'm tring to get out the door and I'm running late. I got everything into the plastic storage bins and down by the door. I got the car from where it had been sitting since Monday when I drove it last, and moved it up the hill so I could load up. I loaded up. I was ready to go.

And then

I realized

that the car

had no

license plates.

They stole my fucking license plates?? As they say here in Brazil, Ninguem Merece, or 'nobody deserves this.' The car itself was untouched except for a muddy smear across the hood. It was not broken into and even the spare tire was in place, suspended from its little steel cage under the rear bumper. But no plates.

Now, Brazil is a place where you can drive without headlights, without a brain, until recently with an open beer in your hand, and presumably without brakes, but I wasn't going to risk driving without plates. I wasn't entirely certain it was an impossibility, seeing as my brother once had his plates taken away by the police in Mexico when he got a parking ticket, presumably to guarantee that he would pay up. So I postponed heading to the fair and went back in the house to sort out the problem.

'Sorting out the problem' involved two very long sessions on hold with the Brazilian equivalent of the DMV, who never answered, and several very loud curses from yours truly. When I finally gave up on that approach, I had a brief and surprisingly pleasant conversation with a police officer on the Brazilian equivalent of 911, who told me I'd better make an official report and told me where to go to do so. It wasn't far away, within walking distance. Actually quite close to where I painted my dinosaur a few weeks ago.

My real concern was not getting to the fair, or even making my car legal to drive again. My concern was having an official report stating that my plates were stolen and that I don't know of their whereabouts since Monday. You can bet whoever took those plates didn't wrap them up and stick them under the tree, my plates are out there making mischief as we speak, and I don't want to be held responsible for it. Actually, the first thing I did was check all the cars on the street to make sure my plates weren't on any of them, because one thing I have learned in my nearly forty years on this planet is that there are some extremely stupid thieves out there. Actually, I should probably check again as I haven't ruled that out as a possibility. Which raises the question- how do I deal with it if I do find my plates on a neighbor's car? Do I just take them back and not say anything? Do I take them back and throw a rock through the window? Do I take them back and then hunt down the owner and give them a piece of my mind?

Anyways I walked down past my dinosaur to where the police station is. The first thing I saw when I closed in on my target was the big 'On Strike' signs on the door.

Oh yeah.

The cops are on strike.


My mother sent me a package a week or so ago, an event that always seems to coincide with a strike by the postal workers union. She asked me if there was another one going on and I said nope, it's just the cops who are on strike right now ha ha isn't that funny well not really if you suddenly have to file a police report. The one guy minding the shop at the police station told me to try another one, that maybe I'd have better luck there.

It also occurs to me that perhaps my plates were stolen at this time because the cops are on strike, some relatively clever thieves playing the odds that crime pays a bit better when 70% of the officers are not available to stop them.

So I walked to the other police station, another local destination. This is why my car hasn't been used since Monday- I can walk almost everywhere I need to go. This is why I really shouldn't even have a car, because I don't actually use it very much. I certainly don't use it for what it should be used for, which is getting me the fuck out of this city from time to time to keep me from going insane.

But I digress.

Actually, the story pretty much winds down at this point- I walk in, huge line, woman with bruises all down one side of her face, man with bloody shirt and bandage on cheek (these two are not together), stinky alcoholic looking guy who sat down next to me and forced me to find another place to sit. I waited around for a long time and made a report and watched the crowd dissipate, wishing I had brought Evani's iPod so I could listen to podcasts, in English, from the country I used to call home, where I never had my plates stolen.

The country that keeps calling my name, a little bit louder each time some stupid shit like this happens to me.

I left the station with my police report, too late to head to the fair. I went home and had a couple beers and played with Lucas, who by the way is still awake at 12:30 at night. Tomorrow I'll go and put in a request for some new plates. I can hardly wait.

All in all, probably a more interesting evening than I would have had trying to sell my t-shirts.


Mei said...

What a shocking story. I live in Miami, and my husband was robbed at gunpoint, somebody stole my camera, and someone else smashed their way into my car to steal my phone charger (?!) in the space of three months. BUT the cops weren't on strike, and nobody's taken my plates before. %^$& I hate parking in the street! Sorry.

markuza said...

Thanks Mei. When I got up this morning, I had to remind myself how lucky I was that the windows weren't smashed or the car itself wasn't stolen. Unfortunately, having the plates stolen is a teeny tiny bit like identity theft, and I'm going to wait to see what shows up in the mail in the coming weeks... sigh...

Agreed- parking on the street sucks!!!

Mei said...

I don't think it's healthy (mentally speaking) to imagine what someone could be doing with your license plate...

michelle said...

Sorry about your plates. Hopefully the theives are too stupid/drunk/f*%$ed up to do anything too horrible with them. not sure what else to say to make you feel better other than least it's warm down there?
Call soon. And if you send J your mailing address, maybe we'll take advantage of the postal service not being on strike and send you something...

markuza said...

Mei- agreed. I hope I never know.

Michelle- it is warm here, which is nice. I will call. And I have but one more thing to say: