Ah yes, Chicago saved it's warmest welcome for me this morning.
When I got up and headed out to my car in the morning to check on it, there was a ticket for having expired plates (my car had been in Canada all year and I had been in Paris, so I hadn't been able to renew the sticker). In the time it took me to walk down 53rd street for some toiletries and such, there was another ticket waiting for me. That's already $100 in tickets. And the best part about it was that the two tickets were only hours apart and for the same violation. In other words, a certain police officer saw the ticket already stuck on my passenger side window, wrote an identical one, and pasted it ON TOP of the previous one. Thanks, guys. The first one was justified, but the second one was just malicious.
You know, I realize now that there are differences between the bureaucracy I witnessed in Paris, and the bureaucracy that exists in Chicago. In Paris, everything is done in triplicate, you have to make an appointment for tasks that would normally be a drop-in service elsewhere, you need a piece of stamped and laminated paper for nearly everything, every organization you pass through from housing to work to play demands a set of mug-shot photos that they will turn into yet another ID card. Paris has turned bureaucracy into a fine art. Chicago, on the other hand, has a layer of red tape that is less thick and sometimes faster, but it is malicious. Paris's bureaucracy seems to strive toward some ideal of Perfect Efficiency and Organization, while Chicago just wants to hurt you. Paris is ubiquitous and surveillant, while Chicago is arbitrary and punitive.
Needless to say, I immediately headed off to the nearest DMV and got in line to renew my plates. God knows how many thousands of dollars in tickets they would've given me if I left my car there a minute longer.
And then, to top it off, I had another round in the City of Chicago Citizen Sodomizer when I got back from dinner with Tim and Erin. Tim had been receiving my mail for the past month or so, and he also had all of the mail that Erika had been collecting for me during the year. Among the mail that had just recently arrived was a letter from the Secretary of State, declaring that my vehicle registration would be suspended as of July 24th, because I had failed to take an emissions test. During the 2006 X-mas break, I had actually sent in a form that should've allowed me to delay my emissions test, since I was out of the country and my vehicle was also not in Chicago. Apparently, that didn't go through. Anyway, I clearly need to take care of that emissions test tomorrow...