Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book 'Em!

Parker Center was, until today, a bit of a mythical place to me. As the home of the LAPD, I associate it mostly with the LA riots. Not a great association, to be sure, but it was during that ugly section of LA's history that I remember being introduced to Parker Center (literally, not figuratively!). Well, today we got to visit Parker Center to obtain the penultimate checkmark on our dossier checklist for Taiwan: the police clearance letter(s).

As we arrived, I noticed that the building didn't look nearly as monumental as I'd imagined. It was simply another building - a bit nondescript. Inside, I was surprised to stroll freely past the front desk where a group of officers milled about. (On our way out we noticed that no one was supposed to stroll freely in to the building. Woopsy! So much for heightened security.) We exited the elevator on the second floor and were greeted by a very nice gentleman who was happy to begin processing our letters. How odd. I was expecting to elbow my way through a motley crowd of people waiting for a variety of less savory types of paperwork. We were the only "customers" in sight, so we signed in just below a group of five that had been in in the wee hours of the morning for "criminal processing". Hmm.

As we waited, we noted that "digital mugshots" could be taken just down the hall in room 213, while "registration" was at the jail (which we assumed was close by, although we were in no hurry to find out). The only challenging part of the exercise to get our clearance letters was in finding a notary who would meet us at Parker Center to notarize the signature of the city employee preparing the letter. We had been concerned that the letter wouldn't be ready and that our "traveling notary" would have to wait and might charge us even more. As it turned out, our traveling notary was quite tardy and we ended up waiting for him. (I briefly considered charging him a late fee.)

We finally got the letters and admired them for a moment, before heading over to Chinatown for dim sum and to practice our Chinese. It's funny how holding a document that says you have no criminal record with the LAPD somehow makes you feel good even though you knew you had no criminal record at all anyway.

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