Friday, October 22, 2004

Taking a Pounding Hurts in the Unimaginable Places

Earlier this week I had an job interview downtown and then I was to catch up with Rob and then hit an open mic. However, when life seems to be on your side and all has fallen quaintly into place it leaps out from behind the a-line filled jeans, screaming GOTCHA! There reality stands and lifts her veil as a butterface beauty that you already agreed to take down the aisle.

Now this interview was located on north State street. I parked at about 700 S. State street. I walked a near half mile to a lack luster interview where the only qualification needed to land the job was that I can dress myself. I return about two hours later, at about 6:00pm. I call my friend Alison (not the aforementioned Bungalow Alison) and told her I was heading out to get the car and would see her shortly. Enter the story.

Now I know I am at times a forgetful person. Sometimes things slip my mind, but nothing huge- like where I parked my car. Many people confuse sidestreet names but no one can confuse Chicago's famed State Street with anyother street. I apparently did. I could have sworn I parked on south State. Apparently, I did not park my car on State Street. Apparently I parked my car in the city pound. Which in all fairness is a completely understandable misconception, if you're Stevie Wonder.

I walked to 800 south State jusst incase I was off by a block. No I was not. I then stood there pretending not to notice half of Chicago driving in their own cars. I walked to the exact spot I parked at. The meter was flashing and I began to debate in my head what would be worse, a car towed or stolen? Towed sure meant it would be in my possesion soon but if it was stolen then I was the victim of something other than my own stupidity.

I realized it had to have been towed for one big reason. ALL the other cars were gone on that side of the road. Either I was towed or I was apart of the most maliciously efficient or lazy car jacking spree in city history. There, twelve yards in front my meter was a sign stating "No Parking from 4-6 Mon-Fri" and "Tow Zone." My initial thought that the sign was only for the space it was in front of, wrong. What the city should mention on that sign is "So begins your amazing scavenger hunt for you car. Good luck. Idiot."

I then walked over to the first person that looks like a police officer and find out she is but a mere traffic coordinator. We exchange pleasantries and note the irony of her GED based career and my liberal arts blunder. Upon my hunt for the car I met seven people who collectively could not have more than 100 teeth. It all became even better when I realized that everyone that I spoke with knew something about where my car was. Unfortunately, they hid that one bit of information in five minutes of rambling about why I shouldn't have parked there. " know there was a sign there right?" It is always great to make new friends.

One hour later, I began to actually understand where I was going. I was unaware that Wacker has more layers than a sugar wafer. I am now tired, the nose is running, my body is cold. I make it through middle earth and arrive at lower Wacker. With lighting that would only make an inmate confortable I clentch my fists; just incase a street thug has never seen an empty threat.

I walk into the trailer/office with my head hung low. The silver lining was that I was not alone. There were other illiterate buffoons present to pay top dollar to repo their car and pride. I was at ease until I was given the bill. $160, not to mention the $50 parking ticket from the city. Never would I thought Chicago would be swift about anything related to traffic but then when I thought about a block filled with cars parking at $210 a piece it all became clear. I now know how Daley affords awesome Christmas parties.

When I got to my car there was no damage done by the tow truck. There was something else. The pound holds records on every car that makes it into their area. Each car has an authorization code. I find it a bit ironic that even to be parked illegally one must have authorization, that's the government for you. I see it as an official moron club member number. My MCM# is 84889. Anyway, that number is written on my car, in big loud orange crayon.

I leave the pound with my car with an unexpected pride, for with this orange marking it looks like I just came from an auction of police seized belongings. If you ever think public transportation is over-rated, just look at the numbers the L costs $3, I spent $210 to park my car.

There will aways be fine print in life. Be careful, sometimes it is hidden on a pole 7 feet in the air in plain daylight.

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