So my wife and decided it’s time to replace that old fence. We called the county to find out what stipulations there were—and imagine my delight at being told I could get copies of my subdivision indentures via mail (that was six months ago). I guess I wasn’t that surprised when the rejection letter came—“We’re sorry, but these indentures are on public record at the Records and Deeds Office.”
Lesson 1: “Public Record” is not the same as “Available to the Public.”
Making use of a long lunch break, I drove the 10 miles to the country records department where the first lady I spoke with told me I needed the third floor. Three flights of steps later, another lady told me I was only just on the second floor.
Lesson 2: The FIRST floor you enter may not well be the First Floor—maybe the G(round), E(ntry), E(xit), S(treet), G(arage), B(asement), S(ubfloor A), or any other of the 26 letters in the alphabet.
On the third floor a gentlemen ushered me to a long line of ancient looking books. “Ah,” I thought. “Now I understand.” Then—rather to my surprise—he took me to the computer that sat in the middle of this archaic library. A few clicks took him to a very familiar page (it was the page I started on at home, six months ago, when I first wanted to find out my building permits). He pulled up my address and then clicked a link. “Oh,” I said with surprise. “I could have done this from home?”
“Oh, no,” he assured me—with a nod that told me my journey was just beginning, “this is an in-house link only.” He wrote down the number of a map that was stored…no, not in the dusty old books…but in another computer where three ladies talked. I waited nearly five minutes before one broke out of the conversation to assist me. I gave her the slip of paper, she typed, and then somewhere nearby a printer clicked out a large—very old, very antiquated, very ancient and dust- looking—image.
Lesson 3 – Technology can graphically age people, but cannot graphically un-age old government documents.
After conceding my check for $2.50, she told me that I then needed to proceed to the sixth floor to the Public Works department. Thinking that was only a place in Monopoly—and knowing I couldn’t trust my ability to count flights of steps—I took the elevator.
On the sixth floor and very friendly woman sent me to talk to a very unfriendly woman about my “corner lot.” Friendly woman said, “If you didn’t have a corner lot, it wouldn’t matter.” Unfriendly woman said, “What’s your plat number?” She again visited the webpage-that-looks-like-the-webpage-I-can-view-from-home-but-ISN’T, this time pulling up…no not a dusty book…a computer image of my property. Pointing to the corner side of the lot, “As long as you don’t build here, we don’t care what you do.”
Lesson 4 – When a government office says, “WE don’t care what you do”—it is a royal use of the pronoun.
“You don’t?” I asked.
“WE don’t,” she said, “But your subdivision might have more rigorous stipulations that we don’t acknowledge or enforce…but which you have to abide by.” Pondering this conundrum, I made may way (via elevator) to the Fourth Floor where, yes indeed, I entered another office. I don’t know what this one was called, but another woman met me, sent me to a station where another woman met me, who wrote down some numbers (her phone number maybe?) and sent me to another woman who said, “Print or view?”
Lession 5 – Viewing is cheaper than Printing.
“View please,” I said. Hoping (beyond hope) this time for a ancient, archaic, worn-out-and-dust-covered book that could have been used in a Harry Potter movie (in which I might even have found an original copy of the Declaration of Independence)—I was introduced to another computer. This one had a electronic images of anything relating to my subdivision—though with all the WHEREASES and WHATFORTHS and WHEREWITHALLS and THEREFORES, I decided to print the images.
Lesson 6 – Printing is easier on the cognition.
Ironically, I noticed that these files were in a format which could have—emphasis upon COULD—been (future, perfect, subjunctive) emailed to me as attachments (theoretically speaking of course) if only I had know whom to email…and that individual had the permission—because, after all, the GOVENRMENT CREATED EMAIL back in the late 1980s (I believe Al Gore was instrumental in that endeavor).
I was sent by woman #10 to woman #11 where I paid another $15.00 for scans of images that I will in turn take home, rescan and save in my computer. Only now, I’m $17.50, 4 gallons, and 1.25 hours poorer.
Then again—I helped keep 11 women and 1 man employed today.
Lesson 7 – There is a reason government is considered a bureaucratic.
PS. All that to find out that I need to get written permission from the Trustees of my subdivision before I can actually make any changes to my fence.
IT’S A FREAKING FENCE, PEOPLE!!!! NOT A NUCLEAR LAUNCH PAD.....