I took our 1993 Honda to an auto repair place here in Paso Robles on Tuesday afternoon to get it smog tested. I’ve been getting it smogged there for more than 10 years.
In front of the office there are five or six parking spaces. They were all occupied except the handicapped space. So I sat in the way, in idle and indecisive. I hoped a woman who was doing something in her car would pull out soon.
Then the young woman who works in the garage office came to my rescue. She came out and told me to park in an unmarked area beside the building. I then went inside, handed her the paperwork and the key and sat on a chair in the waiting area.
Before I could touch the magazines, a little white dog appeared with a red rubber toy in her mouth. She dropped it in front of me and stood shivering with anticipation, ready to spring, if I would toss it.
I tossed it many times. She eagerly returned it. Pretty soon my car was done. It passed. The test cost $40. Now all I must do is send the renewal notice to the DMV with $93.
As I was thinking about the $93, I remembered something I’d read in the Sacramento Bee online edition.
It said both houses of our state Legislature held extremely brief sessions the previous Friday. The Senate met for 20 minutes and the Assembly for 45. The members of both houses then left right away on their Presidents Day holiday weekend.
Why did they bother to meet at all? Well, very likely because by meeting on Friday they kept their state per-diem money from being stopped over the holiday. “Per diem,” as you know, means daily expense money. Most legislators, if they don’t live in or near Sacramento, get $141.86 per day, tax free, in per-diem money for meals and lodging.
They get their per-diem money seven days a week unless the legislature is out of session longer than three consecutive days. So, by holding those brief sessions Friday, they avoided being out of session for four consecutive days including Presidents Day on Monday. That would have cost each of them four days per-diem money, or $567.44.
So there I was, paying $93 to the state to register my car.
And there the legislators were getting $567 from the state because they met for just minutes Friday morning. And getting it from a state that can’t afford to support its schools properly.
So, that day, I learned why dogs and not politicians are called man’s best friends.
Reach Phil Dirkx at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2372.