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Friday, September 18, 2009

The Sign

The sign of the beast, as we learn in Revelations, is a number, 666, which somehow appears on the forehead or the hand. I wonder if you can choose. I think the forehead option would make the bolder statement of the two, but I'm betting that that most women would choose the hand (which, after all, might be covered with a glove--those little white ones like they used to wear in gentler days).

Some people take this quite literally (take my second wife for instance--please). Others, possessing a greater sophistication, and preferring to be in step with the modern age, insist that this sign will be received in the form of a computer chip, implanted under the skin and not visible, barring a botched implantation by the implanter, to any eye but that of the laser. According to this theory, one will need to have this chip in order to buy and sell, and generally move about and function in a society defined by numbers and codes. You can scan this, just like the clerk in the supermarket scans a Snickers Bar, and receive an instant accounting of whether the buyer can afford the candy bar, along with his name and address, phone number, home and cell, whether he has any outstanding traffic tickets, what high school he went to, and such like.

Does it sound a bit fantastic? Well of course it does. But it would be pretty boring for life to go on just as it always has, right? Unbearable, actually. Somethin's gotta give.

I can tell you this--I myself seem to have become the bearer of a certain supernatural sign. The sign is not visible, no neither on my forehead nor on my hand. Not visible to me anyway--and yet apparently visible to many others--and especially those employed in a clerical capacity as automatons--bill collectors, court clerks, photo radar machines.

The sign that I bear says KICK ME.

I can attest that such things are real.

The other day I received in the mail an official, court ordered Demand of Payment for a traffic ticket from March 2009 (this being September of the same year). I had not personally received this ticket, nor any of the correspondence that must have followed--little details like adjudication, a conviction of guilt, a doubling of the fine--because the ticket had been sent to an address I had not lived at since 2006.

Well, a simple matter, yes? A matter requiring a simple telephone call.

But no. I soon found that the conveyance of what seemed on the surface perfectly simple was actually perfectly impossible. Somehow the court clerk on the other end of the line simply could not connect nonpayment of the ticket with not having received the ticket.

I was told that if I had wished to contest the fine, I should have appeared in court to do so.

But I don't want to contest it, I said. I just don't see that I should pay the double fine, because I never received the ticket in the first place.

Well then, she said, if I wished to contest the photo radar picture, I would need to submit a blue form and a pink form.

But no, I was contesting nothing, for, you see, there had been nothing to contest. I knew nothing at all of this until just a day ago.

I was told that the court does its utmost best to contact people at their proper addresses. If I had failed to receive the ticket, I would need to contact the Post Office and fill out one orange and one yellow form.

Okay, but in the meantime, what about this doubling of the fine.

That you can pay either by check, Mastercard, or Visa, she said.

KICK ME!

Oh, and by the way, since you failed to pay this fine or respond in court, your driver's licence will have been suspended.

A notification regarding the same had been sent two months ago.

When I hung up the phone, the woman had just begun to describe a green and purple form.

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