I arrived at my brother's housing complex at 6:15, happy that I managed to get there in time without any traffic. The only minor problem was that the guest parking spaces were all taken, but I was used to it. What I usually do is park next door in the adjacent housing complex. They have four or five of their own spots that are usually empty, and to be honest, I had been using them for the past two years without a hitch. Luckily for me, there was one left.
The strangest thing happened though when I stepped out and locked the doors. I heard a voice of a woman screaming in the distance. For a moment I thought it was my imagination, but then I looked up to see a woman three stories above me on her balcony. She was yelling something, but with the oncoming traffic just yards away, the sounds were dulled. To make matters worse, my glasses had been lost somewhere inside my apartment the whole week.
So I found myself standing in the cramped parking spaces looking up at a strange blur making noises in the sky. I figured she was either dying, being killed, or yelling at someone else, and fearing myself being caught in some kind of bad CSI episode, I instead decided to just walk away from this one.
I arrived in time for the babysitting gig and managed to entertain my nephew while also getting to build myself a blanket fort in the living room.
Blanket forts, free dinner, it was really a perfect night.
Then I went back to my car.
Or I should say, I didn't go back to my car. Because I couldn't see it, I couldn't hear it when I pressed the panic button, and it seemed to have turned into a completely different car altogether in the spot I had parked in previously.
Two guys came out of the apartment building and I seized the chance to ask them if they had seen a tow truck, two car burglars, or a really small tornado. It turned out that a tow truck had shown up within the two hours I had been baby-sitting and managed to snag my car.
Sucks, is pretty much the only word that describes it.
I walked back to my brothers place and told him the situation, and luckily he knew how to get in touch with the towing company. It was however, unlucky that the towing company repeatedly hung up on him whenever he called.
He managed to get this much information:
1. They did in fact have my car.
2. It would cost money to get it back.
3. 260 dollars to be exact.
4. They needed the registered owner of the car to claim it.
(they hung up again)
5. I was not the registered owner of the car.
6. It was not in fact "my car."
(they hung up again)
7. So I wouldn't get it back.
Then they hung up one last time.
The hope we had was that whoever called the towing company could maybe influence them to somehow vouch for us and influence the situation a tad, since I was technically on their premises as a guest.
The only problem is that housing communities like this one don't really have a "manager" in charge. What they do have is a series of passive-aggressive people who like to pass on responsibility.
Or in this case, just aggressive people.
The first person my brother managed to contact was a woman who lived inside the community. After ringing her doorbell she instead decided to yell down to us from her balcony.
Her accent, not quite Chinese and not quite completely influenced by a mental disorder, was nearly impossible to understand. She yelled down that the "Car been tow!"
Our response was simply, "We need you to contact the towing company."
Which she then replied with, "Yes! Car been tow! Your car tow!"
"No," my brother explained, "we need you to call the towing company."
"Okay, be right down!" She said, and then disappeared to her dark recesses.
It didn't appear that she would be coming out again.
But then someone else came towards us. Another woman.
Loudly, she explained that it was she who called the towing company in the first place after watching me park. Apparently, this lady was the screaming blur I had seen earlier telling me not to park.
She continued to angrily explain that she called the towing company after I had "given her the finger," and then "hopped in another car and drove away."
Both of which were complete lies.
By now the woman had been joined by the Asian/mentally disturbed lady who continued to explain, "car tow."
The women then went on and casually argued that I just needed my parents to fax me the registration and have it notarized in order to claim the car, a process which I noted would take days.
"That's not my problem," She said.
We attempted to explain to them that I was in fact a guest and that it's irresponsible to tow cars immediately, without any proper signs or notification, and that the very least decent thing they could do for us would be to call the towing company and give them the go-ahead to release the car.
She called them, but managed to get a hold of the same hang-up happy tow-man my brother did.
Her conversation went something like this:
"Hello? I'm calling about a car... yeah, that one... (laughs) yeah, that's what I figured... Yeah, tell me about it. They're so frustrating... Well, I assumed so."
Now, I don't know how people like this actually get to exist. But I remember when we asked for her name and she said "It's White, like the color!" and then laughed at her own cleverness. I shook my head and knew we were dealing with the bottom of the barrel.
She explained to us that it was "out of her hands," and crossed her arms.
I tried to explain the concept of responsibility.
The Asian-like woman said something about "car tow!"
It was going nowhere.
So my brother started driving us towards the car impound lot. Along the way I prayed for some kind of miracle that would free my car.
My brother asked me, "Did you actually see her when you parked? And hear her say something to you?"
"I heard her, but I honestly didn't know what it was. There was tons of traffic and I couldn't see who she was talking to."
He shook his head and I felt like crap. "I should've moved it, I would have but I just didn't know," I tried to explain. But it didn't really make sense. My brain is like swiss-cheese, with holes where logic should be. I've tried a long time to avoid people who yell at me, so I just assumed walking away from a loud stranger was a good idea.
When we eventually arrived at the lot, we were not exactly greeted by the man sitting the behind bullet-proof glass, but were definitely stared at.
It was the same guy from the phone.
He asked for my license and then opened the door, "only for me."
So I had to leave my brother behind, a scary thought considering that he's probably the more personable one.
I was met on the other side by a different tow-man who took me out back where the cars were.
"So," He said out of curiosity, "did you really give that lady the finger man?" He asked, amused.
I shook my head, "Aww, no. Did she honestly say that?"
"Yeah, when I was loading up your car she and this other crazy lady came out."
"Oh! The crazy Asian one?!" I asked.
"Was she Asian??"
"I have no idea," I replied. "But no, I didn't give her a finger. I saw her yelling at me from three stories up and walked away."
"They were such a pain," He noted, laughing.
"I'm sorry you had to deal with them," I said.
The car looked fine. It just felt strange unlocking it in a place I didn't leave it.
"I'll need to check out the registration to give you the go ahead to take it out."
I rummaged through the drivers compartment until I found it.
He looked it over and noted what I feared, my license didn't match the registration.
"I'm not supposed to let the car go if this doesn't match." He said.
"Oh gosh," I said.
"Are you're parents able to claim it?"
"No, they live in Washington D.C. I just drove it down here a few weeks ago from there and haven't registered it or anything."
"Hmm," he mused. "Listen, I know you're not up to anything. I can easily just tell the guy up front it's good."
I thought he should know, "I think my brother actually talked to him earlier and told him the car wasn't registered under me."
"Oh man," he said. "Are you sure?"
He looked at the car registration and then shrugged his shoulders, "Meh, I'll make it work."
Immediately, I knew I was looking at a miracle. For a moment, I loved him. Really. Loved him. In a totally not-gay way.
"Thanks so much man," I said.
"It happens more than you think," he shrugged.
I went back to the bullet-proof glass and waited for the man up front to hang up his phone again. He then turned to the other tow-man, "Hey, what did you find?"
"Yeah they both have their names on the registration," he said, "so they're good to go."
I paid the tab and took my car back.
260 bucks and they didn't even clean it, come on, can't they throw in something for free once and a while? But still, it was nice, like returning home after a truly, truly, terrible vacation. I missed it. And it was nice. Really nice.