Monday, February 15, 2010

Room 12

In the land where you pay most everything in person and in cash I should not be surprised at how business is conducted. The gov’t introduced on the sly a new ‘carbon tax’ on vehicles which we only heard about because a few people we know had been caught in a road block and had to pay fees for not having their carbon tax stickers on their cars by the 31st Jan deadline. Despite that we just paid our ‘road fitness’ tax on 18 January and our licensing fees for the new year I was surprised - we didn’t know about this new tax.

This week, I finally got down the Ridgeway office. It’s the Office of I don’t even know what, but someone took me there once on one of many unsuccessful attempts to get a ‘conversion license’ and again and again for many other car and license-related things, so I assumed (always dangerous) I could sort things out there. These offices/pay windows are tucked away in a jumble of un-named streets and a mess of governement blocks -- department of energy, department of land, department of who knows what else. I never have seen a sign that indicates this is the place to go to get your car paperwork and licensing done. There are numbers on the doors to the different offices. To find out where to go, you have to duck your head into a random office, interrupt someone’s work or conversation. There is some method to the madness I'm certain. Or am I?

It is actually pretty obvious where you need to go... the place where everyone else is going: Room 12, the room with the crowd of people spilling out.

At the entrance to Room 12, there is a vague queue but also a vague non-queue and the added confusion of not knowing if you are in the right queue or even the right room.

I waited for a good hour, just praying the whole time I had the correct paperwork, enough money, a person with a working computer and a backup generator. Many of the other patrons waiting are 'agents' whose work is to take care of peoples' car paperwork and stand in long lines. They may be taking care of any number of peoples' car business. It is funny to think that you can get a 'road fitness' PASS sticker without having anyone even look at your vehicle, without having to pass any sort of inspection or emissions test. Paying the carbon tax was a pretty painless transaction but I had to stifle laughter when I paid and got a receipt.

“Is there a sticker?” The police require a sticker.


There were no stickers. Not “We are out of stickers” or “you have to go with your receipt to room 9 get a sticker” but there are simply no stickers.... anywhere .... nor plans to make any stickers.

”What do I do?” I’m feeling really dense at this point.

“You need to take a photocopy of the receipt and reduce it to the appropriate size and made a sticker for your car.”

Of course I do.


Kathi of Clan Church said...

Man, that's good stuff. Thanks for the smile tonight. Sorry it was at your expense.

Heidi said...

Brilliant! Makes me miss Zambia in a strange way... Heidi