Thursday, June 04, 2009

Finally Caught a Brake...

... Tag.  A brake tag.  They're infuriatingly hard to get.  Elusive little beasts.

First, what is a brake tag?  I have two simple answers.

1) It's the rough equivalent of the Texas state inspection, only it's fairly curtailed.  They check lights, wipers, horn, and brakes, but not emissions or anything.

2) It's a scam.

Seriously.  If it was really about my safety, it would NOT be so hard to get one!

Brake tags can only be obtained:
  1. In your parish of residence
  2. Between the hours of 8am and 4pm
  3. Monday through Friday
  4. When the streets are dry
I've compiled most this list through some trial and... well... error.  So, there are eleven stations listed on the City of New Orleans website as providing brake tags. Four of them are reasonably close to the Quarter, though not exactly spitting distance.  I had things to do nearish the closest one, so I headed down there.  I pulled into the station at 4:06pm, and got several heads shaken at me, one arm waving me away, and another pointing towards a sign listing the hours.  So I'd have to leave work early.  Great.

So, this Tuesday I left work early, made it home before the downpour, changed, and hopped in the car.  I pulled into the station parking lot, completely deserted.  Then I saw the sign. I'd missed it the day before.  "If it's raining, we'll be closed."  Sigh.

Wednesday I was home sick.  By the afternoon I felt pretty much better, so I thought about trying again.  It had been raining off and on, but the sun kept peeking out, so I thought maybe it was done.  I decided to call first this time.  I looked up the numbers, and in passing noticed that one near me was open on Saturday mornings.  Didn't see that before.  Well, the place I called said that they were 1) out of brake tags and wouldn't have any more until the next day, and 2) it had been raining and the streets were still wet.  Can't do the inspections when the roads are wet.

Well, glad I called.

Now, I'm not much of a morning person.  Especially not on on Saturdays.  Plus I have a lot of stuff to get done this Saturday.  So leaving that for a last resort, I decided to take off early from work one last time and try to get this done.

So today I checked the weather forecast.  After a drizzly morning, it was expected to be clear until night.  I left work early for one last try before I resorted to the Saturday option.  I drove out to a different station this time.  I got there and it looked pretty deserted, but had a sign that it was still open during construction.  So I pulled in, parked, and went in and asked the attendant if they did brake tags.

Guess what.

They don't.  Funny, that's the station that listed Saturday hours.  So much for even trying on the weekend.

At this point it was 3:15pm.  I headed back to the closer station, the one I'd missed at twice.

Third time's a charm.

I pulled into a line with some other cars.  After a bit of a wait, my car was inspected, FINALLY, the tag placed on my windshield, and I pulled back out onto the road and headed for home.

Just then, it started raining.