Fuck The Man

Dec 03, 2013

Do you enjoy the columns we post on Razorcake.org? Razorcake is the first and only official non-profit DIY punk rock fanzine in America primarily dedicated to supporting independent music culture. Please help keep us rolling along and consider making a tax-deductible donation to us. If you are reading this before December 31st, 2013, check out our year-end incentives!

Seriously, fuck that asshole. Everybody hates “The Man,” or at least you should. I had several encounters with said dickhead over the summer. And, yes, I am going to share them with you. Lucky you.

Back in May, the license plates on my car were set to expire at the end of the month. In Missouri, where I live, your car has to pass a safety inspection and an emissions test. I knew my car wouldn’t pass the safety inspection. My windshield had three large cracks across the middle of it, one of my headlight lenses was busted, and the turn signals didn’t work in the back. (Both of them came on at the same time. This was due to a shitty job of rigging up my brake lights, which didn’t use to work at all.) There were probably some minor things I didn’t even notice.

A guy I worked with at the time told me he had a friend who worked at an oil change place. He said I could take my car there and his friend would look the other way so my car would pass. So I went there. The guy pulled my car into the bay while I sat in the waiting area. After a few minutes, he came in to talk to me. He said he would overlook everything but the windshield. The place had overhead cameras, and if anyone went back to look at the videotape, they would see him passing a severely cracked windshield. He told me to get that taken care of and come back to get passed. He also told me there was a hole in my muffler. That would explain why my car was so loud. The guy was also going to overlook that, but just wanted to let me know about it. Nice guy. He then went back out to the car to finish things up.

After a few more minutes, he came back in. When he hooked my car up to the computer for the emissions test, there was a problem. The EGR valve was fucked up. He suggested taking it off and cleaning it. That would possibly make the check engine light go away. Then, the car would pass the emissions test. I got a windshield from a junkyard for around sixty bucks, and had a guy put it in for about fifty. Not too bad. A real place would charge about two hundred bucks. Suckers.

Another guy I worked with at the time took the EGR valve off and cleaned it out. The light was still on after he put it back on. I went out to the oil change place a few days later. The guy had since been transferred to another location, but I had to go to the one that I originally had my car inspected at. Another guy there passed me on the windshield. (They can only test what failed originally. He did question the shitty wipers and the headlight lens. Oh, well.) He hooked the computer up to my car for the emissions. It was still showing that the EGR valve was fucked up. I told him that I had driven about a hundred miles since we took it off and cleaned it. He said that maybe I should drive another couple hundred miles on it and then come back. You only get like twenty days or so to have shit retested. After that, you have to get everything checked out again.

Fuck the man. I drove another couple hundred miles or so and the damn light was still on. The junkyard guy at my work got a newer-looking EGR valve off a car at the junkyard. The light was still on after that. We disconnected the battery, allowing the car’s electrical system to reset. Still on. We took my car to AutoZone and had someone there hook their computer up to my car. It was showing the EGR valve and the air pump. Great news.

The day I went back to the oil change place to get re-inspected, I blew a tire on the highway. About half of the part that actually touches the road was whipping around so hard that it fucked up the wheel well. Right above the wheel well is the air pump. Well, that broke. The junkyard guy got me one of those. The check engine light remained on. My car was fucked. We had done about all that two pizza guys could do. I told him I was taking my car into the shop and getting shit fixed right.

It was around the end of August at this point. A few weeks earlier, I got pulled over on my way home from work. One of my brake lights had gone out since the shitty rigging of them. I was driving home with a pizza sign on my car most nights to deter the oinkers. If you look like you’re on a delivery, they ain’t gonna fuck with you. Well that night, I said fuck it. I also took a strange way home. And it came back to bite me right on my fucking dick.

The dickhead cop passed me, going the opposite direction, but like most asshole cops, he turned around and tailed me. It didn’t take long for him to throw his lights on. He gave me three tickets: one for the brake light, which I had known about for around a month. (The bulb looked good, so the wiring must have been fucked up.); one for expired plates; and one for not having a valid inspection. He didn’t get me for having an open container because I stuck my open can of High Life under the passenger seat. Sucker.

I told him I had a valid inspection but no emissions and that was why my plates were still expired. He didn’t even ask if I had a valid inspection. He just assumed I didn’t. Fuck him. My court date was September 11. Eerie. I had a little over a week until then. An inspection was good for sixty days, so I was going to tell the guys at the shop just to do what they had to do for my car to pass the emissions test. I had a feeling that they were gonna notice the brake light, then they would look inside my trunk and see the rig job we did. That would turn into them rewiring the brake lights and turn signals. Electrical work is pricey.

So, the junkyard guy looked at the brake light again. After taking the bulb out and putting it back in, it came on. Great. He had also looked for a muffler for me at the junkyard, but no dice. I was gonna have to buy a new one. A day or two after dropping my car off, they called me. The inspection was no good. I had sixty calendar days, not business. My bad.

They estimated around $1,200 for everything that had to be repaired in order for my car to pass. Fuck that. I just dropped $1,500 about a year-and-a-half ago on a used transmission. My car is a 2001 and I recently hit 200,000 miles. I wasn’t going to drop that kind of money into it. Magically, they had a car for sale for the same price. Somebody didn’t want to pay for repairs, so the shop bought it. I took it for a spin and looked at it. It seemed okay, but it was a 1997 and had a few thousand more miles on it than I had on mine. If I was gonna get another car, I wasn’t getting that one. I thought for a second about taking out a car loan on something newer. That second went by pretty fast.

A lady I worked with at the time told me once that I could register my car in Illinois, using her address. You see, over there, you don’t have to get your car inspected or tested. You just give them your title and pay the money. So that’s what I decided I was going to do. Meanwhile, I still had to go to court. I showed the judge my inspection paper, proving that it was indeed valid at the time of getting pulled over. I also showed him a receipt for brake light bulbs, proving that I fixed that. (I later returned the bulbs. Hello, $6.50.) I told him I wasn’t going to drive my car anymore, so I was just going to pay the fine. It was a non-moving violation. No points on my license. He dismissed the inspection and brake light tickets. My fine was $100.50. I went down the hall to pay.

This is where I say, “FUCK THE MAN” yet again. The room where you pay your tickets is split in two. The left side had a “CASHIER” sign. All of the chairs were empty, and I didn’t see anyone behind the glass. I took a number on the “CUSTOMER SERVICE” side. While I was waiting, a few people sat down on the other side. I heard a guy say that you paid on the other side, and then showed your receipt on the customer service side. What a system. So, I went over to the cashier side and got a number. As I was paying, my number on the other side was called. Fuck.

I went back over to the customer service side and got another number. A few minutes later, the same guy told me once you have your receipt, you can just go up to the window, you don’t have to wait. Good to hear. I gave my receipt to the lady. She asked me what I needed. I told her I thought I was supposed to give it to her. She told me I was good to go. Awesome. It would be a lot fucking easier if there was just ONE FUCKING SIDE. Or a goddamn sign explaining how things work!

I had never been to court in Saint Louis. How am I supposed to fucking know? On my way out, I told another disgruntled customer that our whole system is fucked up—the cops, the courts, all of it. She agreed. Seeing as how it was September 11, I thought about how it makes perfect sense for terrorists to want to blow our country up. They know how fucked up our government is. They are DOING US A FAVOR. I say, go ahead and blow shit up. Just make sure no one’s inside. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I knew it would have been a waste of everyone’s time to make a complaint. The people who work at the courthouse don’t make the rules, they just work there. I’m sure they hear enough anyway.

I still have my receipt for the whole thing. It details where your money goes: $2 to Biometric ID Technology, $5 Building Fund, $32 in Court Costs, $7.50 to Crime Victims Fund, $1 to Domestic Violence Fund, $50 Fine, $1 to Peace Officer Training Fund, and $2 to Police Training Fund. I’m glad I could contribute. I was glad when that was over. The court part of it went better than expected. It was just the nightmare of paying the fine that really irritated me.

Since my plates were still expired, and I didn’t have a ticket to show a cop anymore if I got pulled over again, I started driving my parents’ car. I needed a few weeks to pay off a loan I had. That place had my title. I used my car for collateral when I took out the loan.

On September 16, I was on a delivery downtown. The closest spot to the office building I had to go in had a mailbox next to it. The curb was yellow, but whatever. I would only be in there for a few minutes. I put the hazards on and went inside. I didn’t have a pizza sign on their car, because I didn’t want to mess the roof up. Their car is way nicer than mine. I was inside for like five minutes. Just enough time for some prick to give me a ticket. $25 for being “WITHIN 10 FEET OF U.S. MAIL BOX.” Unreal. My fucking hazards were on! That’s code for, “I won’t be long.” I drove around a few blocks looking for the Nazi, but never located him or her.

A few days later, I went into the office where you pay your parking tickets. I told the lady that I wanted to contest the ticket. She asked me if I was the registered owner of the vehicle. I told her I wasn’t. She said that because it had to deal with a mailbox (whatever the fuck that means), I would need a copy of the registration and a notarized letter stating that I was borrowing their car. What a fucking system we have here. That’s a lot of bullshit. I was going to do all of that, but time didn’t allow for it. I eventually paid the $25. FUCK YOU, CITY OF SAINT LOUIS! FUCK YOU! And you’d better pay your ticket on time. After fifteen days, the fine doubles. After forty-five days, it quadruples. What a fucking racket they have going on here.

I got a ticket once for being in a no parking zone in the park while I was sledding. Who the fuck writes people tickets while they’re sledding? Assholes, that’s who. The damn art museum that I was in front of was closed. It was 8 pm. Fuck you, too. I let that fucker quadruple, and then I tried to contest it. No dice, yet again. I had to pay the whole thing. Fuck you, MAN!

As if this all weren’t enough, I have had a few other incidents with the law recently. On September 4, and again on September 24, I was issued a ticket in the mail for running a red light. Isn’t that great? A camera takes a picture of your car running a red light and you get a ticket in the fucking mail. I’m sorry, but if the police department can’t have an actual officer issue me a ticket, I’m not complying.

I also consulted my legal advisor on this. He said to just hold on to the tickets and see what comes of it. You can always say that you weren’t driving. Someone was borrowing your car. I got one of these years ago, but it was just a warning. Each one of these fuckers is $100. FUCK YOU. I’m not giving you $200. Fuck off, City of St. Louis Photo Enforcement Program. Oddly, both tickets are for running the same light. Going the same direction. I bet there’s some kind of a malfunction on that camera. So Big Brother can just take your picture and give it to the cops, huh? That is so not cool.

My parents were planning on going on vacation September 27. They needed their car back. I went out to the loan place to pay them and get my title back on the 26. Because I made a payment over the phone a few days earlier, I had to wait ten business days for that to clear before they could release my title. I should have just waited a few days and paid it altogether in person, but I’m an idiot. I wanted to get them some money and then just pay the remaining fifty bucks or so. I know, it makes no sense.

So I gave my parents their car back. I planned on using my car for work only until I got my Illinois plates. I could do that for a couple of weeks, right? Wrong. So wrong. Four days later, I came outside to go to work. There was a cop sitting next to my car. Again, I’m an idiot, so I put some stuff in my car that I was planning on taking to work. That told him that I was planning on driving it soon. I’m not that dumb. I went back inside. He sat there a while longer. Then he got out of his car and stuck two tickets under my wiper. He then sat in his car and waited for me to come out. I wasn’t about to play that game. I called work and told them that I was running late.

The cop eventually moved down to the next block. He was either writing someone else a similar ticket or thought he was out of my sight. The tickets were for No Valid License Plate ($25) and No Valid Inspection ($25). I just waited inside until he was gone. I got in my car and figured I was safe. I left for work and didn’t see him again. I even walked down to the end of my block to see if he was waiting around the corner for me. You can’t outsmart me, Jack! The time on the tickets was 10:55 am. If only I would have just left a few minutes earlier. What a fucking asshole, though—going around and looking to see if all the cars have valid plates. Go fuck yourself, pig!

The next day, I got a license plate and a valid sticker from my girlfriend. She only uses one plate on her car. I don’t even know what kind of a ticket you get for that. Hopefully, I won’t find out. It looks legit and should be enough to throw the cops off. If one is behind me and runs the plates though, it’s going to look like I have a stolen car. That won’t be good. I only have about a week and a half to go. Then, I will appear to be from Illinois. That’s another situation altogether. Saint Louisans hate Illinois drivers. I will legally “hate myself.” I can’t wait.

In the end, I will have paid less than it would cost to fix my car and register it in Missouri. It’s like $200 for a first-time registration over on the flat side of the Mississippi. I had to pay that loan off eventually. My car needed a new windshield. It needed a new EGR valve and air pump. Plus, I haven’t paid my personal property tax since the last time I got plates, which was in 2011. Missouri requires a PPT receipt for plates. In Illinois, all you need is a title. Pretty sweet action. Fuck the man now and forever. Fuck that motherfucker until all eternity. The End.