Posted 19/1/09


I had my car impounded last night. For no good reason. I was parked virtually opposite my own flat, on my own road, following a day at work. I was roadworthy and sufficiently taxed. I was presumably impeding slightly onto the single yellow line that runs down a portion of my road. I didn’t believe I was, but that’s because said line is so faded that it’s near impossible to see in the dark (or the light for that matter). I believed I was parked legally; where I’m always parked. Yet, for this ‘crime’ I have received, not a £40 parking ticket – which I would have considered unjust – but a £250 charge for reclaiming my car from a pound in Mitcham (plus the bus fare to get there!). No-one notified me of this. It was only after attempting to report my car as stolen to the police that I eventually discovered this information. It is beyond unjust. It is so disproportionate and traumatic that it should be considered a crime on their part. £250 is a big deal. It’s the city break in half term we can’t afford. Or the desperately needed replastering of our half-refurbished kitchen that we can’t afford. It’s a mockery of all the little ways in which I’ve tried to cut back spending in the weeks since Christmas. It is a deepening of debt suffered at the whim of profit-seeking local governmental gangsters acting on a whim to hit targets and make up budget shortfalls. My car was not blocking, inconveniencing or troubling anyone. I am literally staggered.

So how to respond to this in the Christian context?? Well…

  • I’m not angry at God (although I’m certainly angry!). He has given me all good things and such trauma is the result of a fallen world corrupted by sin, along with a culture that rejects him and his standards. I’ll just look forward to the world as it was meant to be.
  • I’m not self-pitying (at least I’m trying not to be!). It may look like I am, but I won’t shed tears over my plight – just vent a bit of righteous anger at injustice and over-large governance. I don’t think the world is against me – I have a comfortable life, I’m pretty credit-crunch proof, God-willing, and I am saved for all eternity. Hence the point above! We have to endeavour to put into practise the likes of Romans 5.
  • I’m not blameless (although I almost am this time!). If I was on a yellow line then I broke the law and I should have been more careful. But I didn’t mean to, and I honestly believe the government, when setting laws, should make them difficult to accidentally break. This same thought occurred once before, when I received a parking ticket having actually asked the parking attendant where I should place my car! Nevertheless, I won’t claim innocence.
  • Government is exceeding its godly bounds. As Pete M stated angrily last weekend – ‘It’s my blinking house – why should the government tell me where to put my heaters??’ I’d say similar about the seizure of my property because I parked my car outside my house, on a road for which I pay huge amounts of road tax. Jam Carey says some interesting things about the matter here.
  • I will pray and self-examine to see if I should learn something regarding my conduct and spiritual life from this incident. I have posted about that recently – whether we should more often see misfortune as discipline. Having now suffered, in 15 months of owning my car, two vandalised wing mirrors, a vandalised windscreen wiper, vandalised paintwork, a break-in relieving me of my stereo, 2 parking tickets and a tow… one might say there are questions to be asked about the extent to which the car has dominated my recent financial and emotional landscape! (The lesson may be ‘leave Streatham!’).

So, to conclude, I’m joyful. But I’m certainly not happy!!!

PS At the end of the school day I was presented with £23 in loose change by my fellow members of staff, word having spread of my misfortune and an inpromptu whip-round having been conducted. Often obsessed as we are with depravity and judgement, it was a nice reminder that people are often lovely.

PPS Two days later, someone hit the back of my car on Streatham High Street. I sighed really very deeply indeed. It barely left a scratch!!


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