Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Boot

So, Josiah and I were sitting in the car waiting for Brent to run a quick errand recently when I heard a big thumping noise by the side of the car. Simultaneously I saw Brent come out of the store saying, "Hey, I'm right here". I thought for sure someone was trying to steal the tire off our car or something. Looking behind me I saw a white vehicle stopped behind ours and a man getting back into the passenger seat. As Brent discussed whatever had just happened with the driver of the car, I unbuckled Josiah from his car seat, got out off the car, looked at the rear tire and noticed we had been slapped with the infamous "boot". There it was in all it's glory, virtually imprisoning our vehicle without us even knowing.

Come to find out, contrary to what we had assumed was the reasoning behind this unexpected turn of events, the man in the little car informed us it wasn't illegal parking, but rather mispayment of 2 parking tickets (the same as the function of a marking meter in the states). Yep, they had our licence plate written in a book and they were on the prowl for offenders. What we tried to explain to the man was that when the parking control person put a ticket on our car in these two incidents, their shift was over upon our return and there was no one to pay by the time we came back to the car. Can I honestly say we didn't really realize anyone cared too much about these 5oo shilling (meters/tickets) and didn't know how to reconcile it.

What we also found out that fateful day was that the fine jumped from 500 shillings to 20,000 shillings for every ticket unpaid. So our total fine came to 60,000 shillings including the "boot removal fee". We were stunned and there was no sign of any mercy coming from the "clamp man" for our ignorance of Ugandan parking procedures. And they explained that if we didn't pay, our car would be towed and impounded. This all came at a very bad time because we really had no money and were barely even able to buy food that month. We tried to explain this to the man, but I doubt he hardly believed us.

Why do random bad things always have to happen all at the same time anyway? The kind of days where everything runs out and breaks in your house and you have no money to fix it, when you find little worms in your bed and you have to go on dollar ice cream dates..... and then you're car almost gets towed away over pennies.

So anyway, with no mercy still in sight I quietly became overwhelmed at the whole situation and began to cry. Little did I know this would cause a stirring amongst our car captors and they immediately got out of the car and removed the boot and let us go with the condition that we would eventually pay the fees. Who would have thought that shedding a little tears would do the trick......sort of. Still have to pay the fees, but at least we didn't have to walk home! Oh, the joys of living in another culture.

So, the moral of the story is- always pay your parking fees and if you live in another country and don't know how the system works...find out ahead of time so you don't have to embarrass yourself in public by shedding a few tears.

All for now...


Ann Dunagan said...

Oh, God bless you Virginia!
He's there, even in the midst of our challenges, to be our "rear guard" and come to our rescue!

You're doing an awesome work!

Love you!

jamiejoy said...

Sorry that you had a bad day! I hate it when I cry in public. Although it happens a lot more now that I am a mom. If I could send you Ben and Jerry's I would! Love you!