Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Of parks and parking permits...

About 7 p.m. last night, after he had listened to the NPR news on the radio and read the local newspaper while sitting out on the patio (I was feeding the mooching birds and watering the flowers), my husband said "Want to go for a drive? I'd like to get out of the house for a while." The temperature, which had reached over 90, was dropping and the evening was pleasant, so I changed clothes and we left. Since we hadn't eaten yet, he suggested we grab a bite and take it to the park.

For dinner we decided to get sandwiches at a local BBQ joint. It's pretty unspectacular to look at, but produces fine barbecue. He got beef, I got pork and we both had side orders of potato salad (mustard type) and sweet tea (it's the South, after all). We drove down the road about two miles and turned into a park by the river. There was an easily accessible picnic table with a nice view of the water, so we settled down and ate while the sun set.

The sandwiches were marvelous, and the potato salad just about the best I've ever had from a restaurant. The tea was a little too sweet but that's to be expected. It seems the further south you go, the sweeter the iced tea is. And the park was perfect. There was a slight cooling breeze off the water, almost all the people had gone and it was quiet, peaceful and green. The perfect ending to a warm early summer day.

I have four great parks just a few miles from my house. Two are state parks, two are city parks, three are on the river and all are well maintained and well equipped. You can picnic at a shelter, swim, play tennis, jog, walk your dog, or just sit and listen to the water lap on the shore. What an improvement - we only knew of one park in the last larger city in the state we lived in and it was scary. If you check the map you'll find more parks now, but I wonder what they're like. The availability of safe, well kept green space in a even a small city is a mark of how community focused the municipal government is.

Now for parking. I need to renew my husband's handicap parking permit next month, and according to the instructions on the application, his doctor has to sign a form certifying his disability every time the placard is renewed. Says so right there on the form. So, I looked up the form online and printed it to take to the doctor. But, before I went further, I called the county office which issues the permits to be sure it was the right form, and as importantly, the right VERSION of the form. Hey, I worked for thirty years in a paperwork-hobbled industry where the revision number of the form was as important as the form number. I know the ropes when it comes to forms.

The phone was answered on the second ring, by an actual human, no less. This call had possibilities of not being too miserable, as calls to government offices go. When I asked to to verify I had the right version of the form, she said "But you don't need to refile the doctor's certification to renew the permit." I was puzzled. I reminded her that the form said differently. She continued to assert that I just needed to bring in the current parking permit and it would be renewed, no other documentation required. But she never actually stated where that interpretation of the law came from, and didn't verify that I had the right form, so does she have a clue?

Okay. . . which is right? I did another web search and am fairly sure the form is current. It's the same form we filed two years ago and says the same thing - new or renew, the doctor had to sign it. So either the lady answering the phone didn't know what she was talking about (gee, thanks state government - I REALLY appreciate the help) or the county office here doesn't enforce the state law. I'll go by the office tomorrow - it's close to my house anyway, so it's not a lot of excess driving around) but I'm betting that they will look at me like I'm an idiot and demand the proper paperwork. I already printed the form and composed a cover letter with an SASE to leave with it at the doctor's office for his certification, because I figure in the end we'll have to have it. This is why I hate dealing with bureaucracies.

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