The Fifth Circle of Hell: A City Impound Lot

    And now, ladies and gentlemen, for something completely different — a real and chilling tale of evil domination. An unflinching indictment of the wide-spread, legally sanctioned oppression of the sovereign rights of motorized man. An all-too-true testament to the sickeningly omnipotent grasp of Uncle Sam. A vivid presentation of the crushing brutality of the local bureaucracy. The story, in his own words, of a single citizen — one innocent local student — whose ride was jacked — by The Man himself …

    Our Narrator: So how did you discover that your ride had been jacked?

    Poor Student: I had just gotten out of work. It was about 12:30 a.m. My friends from work were driving me to where my car was parked. We drove along the street where it had been and it just, like, wasn’t there! I, like, didn’t believe it at first — I got out of their car thinking I had missed it and walked back up the street. My friends circled around and didn’t see it either. There were no clues — the fucking thing just wasn’t there.

    ON: So did you know right away that it was government monkeys whose salaries you pay who stole your automobile with their greasy, hairy little fingers?

    PS: No! I thought it was stolen, like, honestly. I was all excited ‘cause the thing needed, like, two grand worth of work, and I thought I could just, like, say goodbye and get reimbursed by the insurance company. I was so excited, I even like called my parents at 1 a.m. and left a message: “My car got stolen! We have insurance for that, don’t we? I think this could turn out to be good in the end.”

    ON: And then? Can you describe for us what must have been something of a fall from innocence as you realized what had happened?

    PS: After about 20 minutes of being excited, I realized I should probably, like, call the police. So I called to report a stolen vehicle. The lady on the phone was mean, like I interrupted her doing her nails or something: “Uh … yeah?” I told her I thought my car got stolen, and she sighed and was like, “What’s the VIN number?” And I really hate people who don’t know what acronyms stand for —

    ON: Oh, I hate those ignorant sons-of-butt-ugly bitches, too. This is America — can’t they learn English?

    PS: Exactly. So I was like “OK, the VIN (I made sure to say it extra snotty) is: three–V–C–N–two—“ And she was like, “five–Z–T–9–U?” And I just yelled “No” disgustedly and repeated it back to her: “three–V–C …” She came back with: “five–Z–T?” And I just kept getting, like, more and more pissed and she kept getting it wrong, kept saying the same wrong fucking letters and numbers back again. So finally, after I had been shouting like a mad man into my phone while standing in an empty, foggy parking lot from like 12:30 to 1:30 a.m., she got the number right. While my throat rested, I heard fevered typing in the background, and finally, with all the disinterested clinicality she could muster through our staticky connection, she dropped the bomb:

    “Sir, your vehicle wasn’t stolen. My records show that your vehicle was impounded earlier tonight.”

    “WHAT?” I yelled with a raw larynx. “What’s this for? I vote. I probably pay yo— ”

    “Sir, because that hijacked, amoral bureaucracy considered to be the pride of your entire nation doesn’t really care about its citizens other than as a never-ending source of revenue and labor to be frequently harvested, by peeling away layers of the public free will to feed them more easily to the pale, moneymaking furnace of oppression and ruin through which The System feeds its insatiable urge for power and significance … Duh!”

    — Or at least I thought that’s what she said. When the steam had cleared out of my ears and my eyebrows had, like, returned to their normal nonacute angle, she seemed to be telling me how to pay back parking tickets, or something.

    ON: That’s the ruse they played on you, eh? Claiming you didn’t have a right to park your machine on a public street?

    PS: Yeah! I mean, I just like, honestly forgot to pay them! I didn’t mean to. OK — well, I kind of thought you could just not pay them for a while, and it would never really get you. But it’s just not fair — I didn’t even deserve, like, hal — I mean, I didn’t deserve any.

    ON: No. Tickets are the fuckin’ talons of The System, grasping out to suck your blood through your wallet. What empirical right do those smarmy, bald bloodsuckers have to fine us for parking on a public street? Those bald, bloodsucking bastards. So what trials did you have to endure to get it back? I mean, I assume you’ve been able to get your ride back after it got jacked by The Man.

    PS: Well, yes, I’m pretty lucky in that I was finally able to rescue it from impound, though it required a horrific submission to the whims of that labyrinth of hateful indifference, the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    ON: No … you surely don’t mean … The DMV!?

    PS: Yes. We went on a Friday — afternoon.

    ON: [Gasping] Oh, good Lord. Good Lord. Were you able to navigate it successfully? How many trips did you have to take?

    PS: [Eyes opening wider] Amazingly, we worked it on the first try. We got, like, a pretty good number — G286 — but the nervous dude at the end of the first line (that went, like, out the door) gave us a form that didn’t seem to be right for what we needed to do, and I was terrified we were gonna “get redirected.” The Gs just moved faster than everyone else: It only took a week and a half for our number to get called. But towering spires of hell-fire and acres of crucified corpses in the late stage of decay couldn’t compare to that helpless limbo of watching the DMV TV screen randomly rattle off the numbers of those next to be “serviced” while my heart languished day after day in a sweaty plastic chair [tears up] — and knowing that now, in the eyes of my own government, I [sob] was a criminal and was owed, like, [sob] nothing. I was … a hamster in their sick contraption — a little morsel to be tossed around and toyed with and made to wait while the spark of life drained out of his sad little eyes. But [sob] eventually I got the paperwork.

    ON: If … If you can talk about it, … In what pit of despair did you finally find your poor automobile?

    PS: [Sobbing] It was in a salvage yard … next to this man … [whispers and crying.] I don’t think — I can’t. I … can’t. I’m sorry, I jus — I can’t talk about it [cries harder]. I [sniff] think I have to — [cries harder] I have to go. Bye —

    ON: And there you have it, folks. The sad remains of the thoughtless human oppression of Uncle Sam, who would impose untold horrors of shady salvage yards and toothless tow-truck drivers on a sensitive figure like that poor student. Let this be a lesson to you all about vigilance: The Man will try to screw you, to imprison you in the web of laws, taxes and supposed “rights” over which he has dominion. But you cannot trust him. This poor student was lucky — only a week and a half in the DMV — but you saw his condition after that. The Man will get you for anything, even parking your car outside the street on which you live, if you don’t happen to have the right colored sticker. So you have a choice: Either play his game and jump through his hoop of fire to get the colored stickers he chooses at whim, or … uh, well, um, uh — wait. There is no choice. There is no choice. There is no choice! THERE IS NO CHOICE!? [screams of terror and hurried footsteps] We’re doomed …

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