Location: Elmwood Park, IL
I run out to the street to my car. It's Wednesday, and it's "street cleaning" day in Elmwood Park. This means that I must move my car to the other side of the street, and I must do this before 9:00am. Tomorrow, the same will hold true for the other side of the street.
I should be safe. It's ten till nine.
I see a Village of Elmwood Park Police Cruiser pulling away from my red Chrysler Sebring. Slush is kicked up from the road as the cop moves on to his next victim, I mean "revenue-generating-parking-violation."
"What the fuck!" I exclaim, as I pull the ticket out of the slush on my windshield. "It's not 9:00 yet!" The ticket says it was written at 9:40am.
In my pajamas, with messy hair and no makeup, I get in the car and drive the two blocks to the police department.
I march into the station, walk up to the dispatcher and demand, "I'd like to know how the hell your office wrote this ticket at 9:40am, when your clock up there says it's 8:52?"
"Was it written today," the middle-aged man asks.
"It would have had to have been written today or tomorrow," I reply.
He considers the statement for a moment. "Let me get the Deputy Chief," he finally says.
A few minutes pass, as I furiously pace around the waiting room. A large hulk of a man, wearing a uniform, steps into view. "Can I help you?"
"Yeah," I say. "I'll ask the same question of you that I asked your dispatcher. How the hell did your office write this ticket at 9:40, when your clock says it's..." I glace at the clock, "8:56?"
"Was it written today?"
I roll my eyes. "It was written either today or tomorrow. Seeing as how your office can travel forward in time by an hour, I suppose a full day isn't out of the question."
There's a slight pause before the deputy chief replies, "You don't have to pay this ticket."
"Damn right I don't have to pay this ticket! I've given this village enough of my money over the years, for supposedly valid tickets. This one isn't valid."
The deputy chief doesn't say anything. He holds out his hand, and I hand him the ticket.
"Can I get something in writing from you, saying that I don't have to pay this?" I ask.
"No, that isn't necessary."
I stalk out of the police department, and return to my apartment. My boyfriend says, "So... what happened?" I tell him. "Oh, and here I thought I was going to have to pick you up from jail," he says.
Flash forward to November 20, 2013
I've requested a copy of my annual free credit report. I'm looking over the items on it, and it says that in June 2013, the Village of Elmwood Park referred me to a collection agency, concerning a parking ticket in the amount of $50.
I dispute the item, I say that I have no prior knowledge of this debt.
November 22, 2013A call comes in on my cell phone. I don't recognize the number. Rather than answer it, I google the number, and see that it's the debt collection agency that my parking ticket was referred to.
I get ready for a fight.
I call back the agency, and I'm referred to Steve, the agent who originally called me.
I rail at him about the following items:
1. 5.5 years? Really? This is the first time I've received anything (a phone call, a letter, ANYTHING) about this supposedly unpaid parking ticket. I lived at that address for two more years after the alleged ticket, and NOTHING was ever sent to me from the village. Believe me, they followed up with me on OTHER parking tickets, why not this one?
2. The ticket was a pile of steaming bullshit in the first place, and the deputy chief was supposed to take care of it.
3. I ask for a copy of the ticket. He says he'll get it to me.
Next, I call the village of Elmwood Park, where I'm referred to Wendy. I tell her the whole story. I tell her I remember the ticket well, because of the fact that it was malarkey, and that the deputy chief had agreed to throw it out, because the stupid cop who wrote it had written it ten minutes early.
She tells me that there are no notes in the system to that effect, and that the only two people (aside from traffic court) that can dismiss a ticket are the chief and the deputy chief.
I tell her that it was the deputy chief who said that he'd take care of it, but OF COURSE there's no record of our conversation, so I can't prove that it ever happened.
She suggests that I call the current chief, to set up an appointment to meet with him about the issue. I get the phone number. She agrees to email me a copy of the ticket.
I call the chief. First I get the dispatcher. I tell him the story. He transfers me to the Chief's secretary. I tell her the story. She says the Chief isn't in, but that he makes his own appointments, so can I leave my number so he can call me back. I say sure. Then she asks for the ticket number, I give it her. She starts to look at it and asks if she can place me on hold. I say sure.
She comes back a couple of minutes later.
"I'm going to talk to the current deputy chief about this, and see if we can get this taken care of without you talking to the Chief. Can we call you back? What number can we reach you at?"
I give her two call back numbers.
An hour passes. My cell phone rings.
"Hi, this is Deputy Chief Hock. Is this Elizabeth?"
"Okay, so I've taken care of the ticket in question, and we're notifying the collection agency on this. You shouldn't receive any more letters or calls from them. But if you do, you call me. Okay?"
"Sure, thank you for your help on this."
"So, you're good?"
"Okay, because if you're good, then I'm good," he says. We hang up.