The oppressive and illogical bureaucracies rendered in fiction by Bohemian writer Franz Kafka were so memorable and unique they earned their own adjective: Kafkaesque.
That is the only word that comes close to describing the bizarre set of circumstances described in last week’s Cayman Compass of a Caymanian man dragged to court – twice – to answer for a parking violation allegedly committed by someone he had never met.
Bodden Town resident Windell Scott’s story would be called “too strange” were it rendered in fiction. It all began a year ago, when Mr. Scott was called to report to the Bodden Town Police Station to discuss a ticket that had been issued to his vehicle. When he arrived, he was told he was wanted for parking in a disabled space at the Foster’s Food Fair airport store in October, the previous year.
Mr. Scott told the Compass he was shocked and puzzled by the allegations – that parking in a handicapped spot is something he simply would not do. When he asked for details about the incident – when it had occurred, the make and model of the vehicle, etc., – he says police did not immediately have that information.
A few days later, police called him to the Fairbanks police detention facility, where he was asked to give fingerprints, a mug shot and a DNA sample. When he refused, police escorted him to the courthouse where, for the first time, he learned the details of his alleged crime.
He learned the vehicle that had been ticketed was, in actuality, the black Toyota Windom that had previously belonged to his youngest son, who had sold it the year before – a fact confirmed by Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing records. But because the records had not been signed by the new owner, the magistrate told Mr. Scott he still was legally responsible for the car. He was ordered to reappear in court after two weeks.
Let us pause briefly to consider the DVDL’s rules for transferring a vehicle, which require buyer and seller to go together to the DVDL offices to ensure the process is completed (after waiting heaven knows how long for their turn in the agency’s infamous infernally long queues). In actuality, no one has enough time (or patience) for such an exercise. Rather they, like Mr. Scott’s son did, sign over the vehicle and cross fingers, hoping the buyer follows through.
So, as the car’s “legal owner” (or so he had been told), Mr. Scott enlisted the help of his relatives in trying to find the car and its driver. When they found him, outside Cox Lumber in Bodden Town, they blocked him in and called police, who came and arrested the man, but released him on bail the same day.
Two days later, one of Mr. Scott’s relatives again saw the man driving the car, and again blocked him in. Again, he was arrested and released.
Police said they had no choice but to return the vehicle to the driver – even though he had no Cayman license, no current sticker and no insurance, not to mention that ticket for illegal parking – because … he was the lawful owner.
Ultimately, the story came together as it should have from the beginning: The court dropped charges against Mr. Scott; the new (and true) owner was charged for his various failures to adhere to the driving code.
But the “moral” of the story is as twisted and inverted as one gleaned from any gothic tale. The upright man attempts to work within the system only to be treated like a criminal, forced not only to prove his innocence but also to solve the crime. Meanwhile, the scofflaw roams free (at least for a time) while police are left chasing their tails ….
And for what? Illegal parking?