When it snows, it pours ...
Even as politicians and government agencies took grief for inadequately plowed streets and shoveled sidewalks, others faced another repercussion of the region's unfamiliarity with such enormous quanties of snow.
At the District's Department of Motor Vehicles offices at Judiciary Square, the line stretched around the corner and out the door of the offices of Adjudication Services Tuesday morning, where more than 100 were waiting to deal with parking tickets -- many of them whopping $250 parking tickets issued for cars left parked along posted snow emergency routes.
No one seemed immune from emergency enforcement -- not even Charnita Alston, 38, a parking enforcement officer and a District resident who was ticketed Saturday, when even she thought the snow emergency had been lifted.
"I didn't know it was still in effect," Alston said. "You know, the city has just been crazy. It is chaos."
Murat Alerte, 66, a taxi driver from Haiti, said he was ticketed at 14th Street NW near U Street on Friday evening while he was idling in his cab, trying to figure out how to get home on the treacherous streets.
"The officer is handing me the ticket, and says, 'I didn't know somebody was in the car.'" Alerte said. "I said, 'Oh, that's OK, why don't you remove it?' and he said, "Oh, no, you have to go downtown for that.'"
Their stories mirrored those of many others, who had stood in line merely for the privilege of earning a number, and who now sat in a packed room of neat rows of chairs, where an electronic voice sang out of the intercom system every moment or so to broadcast the next customer's turn. "Now serving. B. One. Seven. Six. At window. Number. Nine."
For some, the wait was too much. Kaitlynn Hendricks, 25, a legal assistant who was ticketed for parking overnight along a snow emergency route in December, thought she had 60 days to contest the ticket, but learned Monday morning that the fine had doubled -- to $500 -- after 30 days had passed.
Hendricks also was driving her father's car, which meant she needed his power of attorney before she could contest the ticket. "I just paid it. It's too confusing. It's too much."
On top of everything, Hendricks, on her way back to work at a Farragut Square law firm, tripped on the slushy stairs at the DMV. With a smear of slush on her arm and a bloody scrape on her knee, Hendricks shook herself off and trudged on with a smile."It's just one thing after another after another," she said. "But nothing's hurt but my pride."
-- Amy Gardner
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