Friday, August 28, 2009


My roommate has been out of town for two weeks, and left her car parked in our shared driveway. About three days after she left, the neighbors with whom we share said driveway asked us to move the car so they could haul away some junk from their backyard. So, I pulled the car out of the driveway, and parked it a few houses down from ours.
Monday, I come home from work to find my roommates’ car no longer on our street.

I call the police, give them the license plate number, and ask if it’s been towed. They won’t know until tomorrow morning. I call my out-of-town roommate to deliver the bad news. The police will need a notarized affidavit from her authorizing me to get the car out. I give her my office fax number.

I call the police station the next morning. They have no record of the car being towed, and suggest I fill out a theft report. Poop. I fill out a report over the phone, and call my out-of-town roommate to deliver the latest news: her car has been stolen.

During the next hour, as I’m trying to stay focused on all I have to do work-wise, I can’t help but feel like the police made a mistake. What if they just didn’t have the car entered into their system yet? My neighbor said he thought he saw the police come the day before and tow it away.

I decide to call the station again.

I speak to a new person at the station who checks the license plate for me once again. Lo and behold, they did tow it. It’s at their city impound lot. I get the address of the station where I go to pay and pick it up. Then I call out-of-town roommate AGAIN. Just kidding, Roomie! Cracker-jack squad of geniuses we got manning the impound calls, we do.

Pause story for an important note: you may be wondering why it was towed in the first place. AS DID I. I was informed during my first call to the police that there is a city ordinance in Salt Lake which mandates a vehicle parked on a city street must be moved at least every 48 hours or it can be towed. I had left my roommate’s car parked for 3 or 4 days. 99.9% sure that one of my neighbors, not recognizing the car, called it in and had it towed. And because I’m the sap who parked it there, this was my pain in the bum’s aftermath with which to deal. Move the car out of neighborly consideration, get backslapped by another neighbor for doing so, to the tune of $246.

I sneak away during my lunch hour and go to the station. I have the faxed-in copy of the letter authorizing me to pick it up, my ID and my credit card. I wait in line for 45 minutes, and pray no one is having a business crisis and cursing my name. When I finally get to the window, I tell them I have a few questions: 1) where is this 48-hour parking rule posted? 2) how was I to learn of this law? 3) how can I dispute this impound? Answers: 1) it’s not posted anywhere; 2) officer at the window didn’t even know about the 48-hour rule until he started working same window; 3) he gave me a phone number and explained the process of disputing the impound, inferring that he agreed it was ridiculous.

As he begins processing the paperwork, he asks me for proof of insurance on the impounded vehicle. I hear my gut drop a foot into my uterus. I don’t have that. This means…you guessed right…I don’t get to pick up the car. I call my out-of-town roommate and ask her to fax a copy of her insurance card. It goes to voice mail. I have to get back to work, and can’t wait for her call any longer. The car was left to spend another night in the city lot.

This is the night I cried really hard, mainly to relieve the stress of a crazy job and a crazy week. Plus, I’m feeling bad for calling my poor roommate every fifteen minutes, harassing her for faxed documents, while she’s trying to enjoy the last few days of her vacation. Plus PLUS, I’m angry at the City of Salt Lake for making up dumb rules which precipitate eye twitches, sleepless nights, forced overtime, and the transference of money from savings to pay for such dumb rules.

The following day, faxed proof of insurance in hand, I go back to the police station. I go in the morning this time, and it was a smart idea because no one was in line. I fill out the paperwork and hand over my debit card. This is when I find out that the car lot, where the car is parked, is NOT ANYWHERE NEAR WHERE I AM STANDING. In fact, it’s a fifteen minute drive from downtown. Didn’t have time to do that. In the end, I had to involve my entire household just to get the darn car out of Egypt and back on our street before 6:00 p.m. and get to an appointment in Draper by 6:30. Sheer. Madness.

My eye has literally been twitching the entire time I’ve been writing . This is the kind of post I never wanted to write. No creativity, no abstract slant or whimsical anecdote. This is your garden variety story of life at its most futile. This is a gripe post. This is the stuff you listen to when you call your girlfriend/boyfriend and lend a supporting (but be honest, you’re bored senseless) ear. I apologize. There was just too much twitching to come up with something better.


Sarita said...

my friend went through the same thing (car towed? no record, so reported stolen, oh yeah, it was towed, thanks for checking back in, because she was home sick for a couple days, walked to the store, and hadnt moved her car).


If its any consolation, you cant park anywhere in Portland.

Laura Keith said...

Had a similar STUPID situation in San Francisco. My husband and I were parked on a side street that had a sign SEVERAL blocks away that said NO PARKING BETWEEN 2-4 PM EVERY TUESDAY. Seriously! What kind of lame town has signs like that ... San Fran. To this day I still haven't forgiven that town for enforcing such a lame law. Love your blog! It's a great way to vent! My sympathies!

Sylvia said...

Mary, I love you. And I love your weblog. I love that it exists and I love to read it. And I love that you write it because you are a genie-us.

At least you weren't responsible for this:

or this:


stacer said...

Wow, that sucks. Sounds like something that would happen in Cambridge with the snow cleaning removal, but I had no idea they had that in SLC. I *love* that they don't even post the signs. What if you've driven to town for a vacation? How are you supposed to know such a rule?

So here's hoping you can appeal it. If it's any consolation, I got a ticket (thankfully not towed) once in Chicago for a similar reason, and instead of paying the ticket, I sent in a letter saying that it wasn't posted anywhere on that block (which is why I chose to park there, because other streets had street cleaning posted), and they waived the ticket. Perhaps you can get a similar dispensation. But of course, since the money already changed hands... it might be harder.