Thursday, January 01, 2009

Too Much Aji and Not Enough Reading, or How I Got My Car Impounded

First, happy New Year to all of you! Finally getting around to posting more about the Jennie Shen work shop and how we ended up at the impound lot. Yes, that included teacher Jennie. Nothing like showing her the top attractions of Philadelphia.



Did I mention the barbed wire? I thought not. Well, grab a cup of tea and get ready for the story of bad forcing moves. It was Saturday night, it was time for dinner. Since we had a Chinese teacher, it seemed an easy decision to go to Chinatown. We got into our cars and drove to Chinatown. I had Matt, Terri, and Jennie in my car. My rental car, because the Ogg Mobile was out of service for the week.



Everyone had told us how hard it is to park in Chinatown. So when we were almost there, and saw a few parking places open on the side of the road, we marked that in our minds as a possible parking location. We smugly talked about how we would get free parking, AND free exercise, while all the people parking in Chinatown were not as lucky and smart as we were. Always nice to feel superior.

We drove through Chinatown, didn't find parking, but we had our brilliant plan B and parked on one of the last few open spots alongside that road. Life was good, and we walked to the restaurant, happy about being with good friends and the prospect of excellent food. And free parking!



We ate, we chatted, we had a great time, but eventually it was time to get back to the car. This time Peter joined us. We walked back, me looking at my GPS, to make sure I could find my car. (Someone said 'You are the only person I know who marks her parking location with her GPS.' He clearly wasn't a geocacher.) We walked, I half looked at my GPS, we walked more and I stood still. Hmmmm. 'Did we just pass my car? What colour was it again? Why do all those rental cars look alike anyway?' Well, it shouldn't be hard to find, since it had a Maine license plate, and there weren't that many of those in Philly.



We walked back, getting a bit confused and worried. A car won't just disappear into thin air, would it? Peter helpfully spoke up 'You guys didn't park here, did you???!!! This is a no parking zone!' Oh...

Those signs weren't there when we parked, I swear. I mean, how could FOUR intelligent and smart people have missed a sign like that if it actually had been there? (Oh shush!)

Now what?

We flagged down a police car, explained to them that they had stolen our car, and how the heck could we get it back? They laughed at us, but did tell us that they did tow a bunch of cars from there about half an hour ago, and we could find our car at XXX Impound Lot. Maybe. If we were lucky.

Could we walk? Did we even want to walk in the cold? And the dark? And while feeling stupid? Getting a taxi seemed easier.

Right then, a taxi showed up and drove us all around the most seedy parts of town, to drop us off at the impound lot. Matt used the travel time to tell us stories about how he got his car impounded in Baltimore. When he arrived at the impound lot over there, they were closed, and he couldn't even get his car out that night.



We arrived at the impound lot, and phew, it was still open. We went in, and we started the lengthy process of getting my car back. The car of which I did not know the license plate, and of which the rental agreement was not on my person. Only thing I know is that it's a grey impala with a Maine license plate. Matt remarked that this is so much better than Baltimore already. To actually have someone there to talk to. Even if it takes quite a while before she figured out my car. But she did!

While we waited, I made fun of the ATM in the building. Matt continued his Baltimore story which involved a huge towing fee, only payable in cash. And no ATM nearby of course. AND his car windows smashed in when he finally got his car back. Which made the barbed wire here a bit more understandable, but I still thought it looked very unfriendly. Barbed wire, watch towers, people with guns. Well, maybe not the last two, but that was what the atmosphere felt like to me.

Turned out it is really really really hard to get a rental car released if you don't bring your own insurance information. Which was in my van in New Hampshire. Eventually he grudgingly released the van, saying 'My supervisor tells me I have to do it.' He clearly did not agree with his supervisor. We paid $125 towing fee, and then got handed a $31 ticket. Geez, thank you. What kind of number is that anyway? Feels like it should have been a more logical $30 or $35, but I decided not to point that out to them.

Welcome to Philadelphia! Home of the Philadelphia Parking Authority!

Anyway, we got to see the airport too, when it was not raining. And let's just say I am grateful my rental had unlimited miles, because I saw way too much of Philadelphia. Did I mention Philly signage sucks?



Moral of the story: always read before you make a move. And try not to have to carpool with me. Since you might have to spend your Saturday night at the impound lot.

2 comments:

Jayme Fosa said...

Wow!

That is such an awesome story!

I would actually -pay- money to hang out with Jennie like that!

Oh wait you did ;)

Happy new year!

lostgoplayer said...

great story karen.