I’m a firm believer in Method Travel Writing as a means to bond with a destination. Similar to the Method Acting technique, one needs to immerse oneself in the destination, live like the locals, eat what they eat, hang out with them, in a sense, become one. “When in Rome” type stuff.
I’m very nearly there in Romanian terms. I’ve got a Romanian apartment, a Romanian car, I speak Romanian (like a two year old, but still…) and I’ve willingly participated Romania’s free-for-all, and for the time being 100% legal, software, music and movie file sharing network that other countries that rhyme with “The Bunited Gates” might frown upon. Today I made the decision to take the final step. I’m going to knowingly play the bureaucratic system.
You may have noticed in recent entries to this blog that I’ve had a few teensy-weensy problems with my car. The crux has been the nationally mandated inspection, in that I cannot pass it no matter what I do. I have visited the inspection agency three times, the mechanics fives times and a body specialist once, spent more than double the average Romanian monthly wage on parts and labour and frittered away upwards of 20 hours of time that should have been spent in front of my laptop in the past two weeks in an effort to pass inspection and I am no closer now than when I started. Indeed, the number of repairs I have to make has ballooned from eight to 19. While gullibly participating in this exercise in futility, I’ve discovered that, among other things, years ago my rear brakes were intentionally disabled in a creative way to get around a previous inspection and that the car’s current inspection card is a fake.
Clearly, the car’s former owners went through the same things I have been going through to appease various unattainable directives and finally got to a point where they had to play the system in order to be able to drive the car out of their garage. I now count myself among this group.
I will not be going back to the mechanic. I will not be spending more money. I will not be standing in line for four hours for a fourth time only to come away with a new list of superficial, inconsequential items to fix. Indeed, I’m ready to play.
First step, I will “lose” several pieces of paper saying that I cannot drive the car, in addition to the latest list of things to fix. If I am stopped, I will execute some accomplish magician slight-of-hand, where I flash around the last inspection along with the pile of work orders and receipts showing that I got everything fixed like a good bureaucratic tool, while not drawing attention to the fact that I don’t have a current inspection card. Since technically I have a whole month to get these repairs done before I’m due back at inspection, I’ll be using that time productively, racing through the Romanian countryside, visiting all my designated cities and sights. As the inspector failed to date the current list of needed repairs, when asked when my last visit to the inspection agency was, I will simply recite a date four or five days previous to whatever the current date happens to be.
In five weeks, I will have completed my road research and I will sell the car, showcasing the new wheels, new brakes, new spark plugs, new lights, new distributor cap and whatever else I can clean up like new, while conveniently losing my Romanian language skills when the subject of the inspection comes up. Once the sale is done, I’ll pocket the cash and disappear. It’s the Romanian way.
It’s possible that I will get into a serious jam, like with police threatening to fine and imprison me, at which point I’ll cash in on the bad karma earned by the shyster who sold me the car. I’ll show that he is in fact the true owner of the car (can’t change the title until it passes inspection after all!), innocently, but fervently draw attention to the faked inspection card, play like a dumb, naive tourist who got duped by a con man and then grin like an idiot while the cops go after that jackass. Bada-bing, bada-boom.
I figure if I pull this off, I’ll qualify for Romanian citizenship.