WARNING: This post does not share the same optimistic, inspiring, and insightful tone of most of my former posts. It depicts a negative situation that I experienced two days ago. Hopefully, I will not have to share news like this again.
Thursday afternoon I walked out to my car to go to work. My car was not in the spot in which I had parked. Very quickly, I came to the conclusion that it had been towed. I called the towing company and they told me that yes, they had my car. Although it was parked in the lot for which I have a parking permit, it was in a spot that apparently belongs to a different property –how I was supposed to know this, I have no idea.– After a 10 minute conversation in which I became very frustrated and the towing company apologized but said that the property manager had called it in and there was nothing they could do about it, I unhappily came to terms with the fact that I could call the company later that night to get my car back and I would have to pay them $70.
At 10:30 p.m. when I got out of work, I called the dispatch phone number for the towing company. They got in touch with the driver who was on duty and I was told that he would call me back to let me know when he could meet me to get my car. After I spoke with the driver, we set up to meet at 11:30 p.m.–since the towing company is also the automotive station that I’ve been going to for the last two years to get my oil changes and car work done, I knew exactly where it was.– My roommate drove me to the station and the driver was waiting for us in his tow truck.
“Your car’s in our lot a few blocks away so follow me there,” he said, and held out his hand. “It’s $70.”
“Can I pay you when I get to my car?” I asked.
The driver responded, “What’s the difference?”
“I just want to get to my car first,” I said.
So, off we drove. The man was driving like a maniac and my roommate had to go 15 miles an hour over the speed limit just to keep up with him. We followed him to the lot –which was deserted, dark, and scary– and he got out to open the locked gate.
“Here we are,” he said. “$70. Now go find your car.”
As I glanced into the unlit lot, I asked him, “Where’s my car?”
“It’s in there somewhere,” he responded.
“Well can you find it with me?” I asked.
Aggravated, he replied, “I have other calls and other places to be.”
“I don’t feel comfortable walking into the dark lot at midnight alone,” I explained to him.
So, reluctantly, he walked into the lot with me and shined his flashlight on the cars.”Honda Civic, right? There it is.”
Looking at an unfamiliar license plate I replied, “That’s not my car.”
After a few seconds of determining that my car was nowhere to be found, he became enraged.”What the f*** those dumbasses told me to go to the wrong lot!” he screamed. “The other lot’s on the other f***ing side of town!”
Terrified by his rage, I walked out of the lot, jumping as he slammed the gate shut violently. “So I’ll follow you to the other lot?” I asked him timidly.
“I have other places I have to be,” he said angrily. Just give me the $70 and I’ll tell you how to get there.
As scared as I was, I was not about to give someone $70 in cash when I didn’t even know whether or not my car was actually located in this other lot. “I need you to show me where to go,” I responded.
After a little more yelling, he got into his tow truck and drove off, leaving me and my roommate clueless as to what do do next.
As we got back into the car, I emotionally broke down. Between the fearful situation I had just experienced and the anger I felt at not having my car and no longer knowing where it was or how to get it, I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. I called the towing company’s dispatch again and explained to the person I spoke with what had just happened. He said he would call the driver and get back to me. I then called my brother, hysterical. Honestly, I’m surprised he could even understand what I was saying. Assuming we were going to eventually get my car, I asked my brother if we could pick him up to come with us, since two girls alone in this situation felt very unsafe. We drove to his apartment, which was a mere two blocks away, and he got into the car. I told him everything that had happened in the last half hour. He came to the same conclusion that I already had: the whole situation was crazy/sketchy and thank god I hadn’t paid the driver yet.
We sat in the car for a few minutes waiting to hear back from dispatch. When they called me, I was told that “the driver said he needed your money before he showed you where your car is.”
“Well clearly that’s not true, because he brought me to where he thought my car was without being paid,” I responded.
With much more sincerity than the driver had expressed, the dispatch person explained that he doesn’t have any more information, but the driver said he would call me soon to get my car at the other lot. However, I was done with dealing with this man. He was mean and scary and there was no way in hell we were meeting back up with him later this night –at this point, it was already 12:30 a.m. Understanding that although the person I was talking to was nice, his job was to answer the phone and he couldn’t be much help in getting me my car, I asked him –through tears– “If I wait until the morning and go the the service station to talk to them, will they have more answers for me?”
“Yes,” the dispatcher replied. “It seems like it makes sense for you to speak with them in the morning.”
So, that was that. I would have to pursue the matter further in the morning. My brother got out of the car –and, although I doubt it, hopefully went to bed since he had to be at work in six hours– and my roommate and I headed home. The next morning, I woke up to three voicemails from the driver. They were all received between 1:15 and 2:00 a.m. How he assumed I would have a ride to meet him at 2 in the morning I have no idea. Regardless, the messages all explained that if I didn’t get my car before 7 a.m. I would be charged additionally for an overnight storage fee.
I then went to the service station to sort everything out. Luckily, one of the men who was working is someone I’ve spoken with in the past when I brought my car in for service, and he had always been very nice to me. I started off the conversation by saying, “I’ve been coming here for the last two years and I’ve always had a great experience. However, last night was one of the worst experiences of my life.” I then told him the entire story of the night before, starting with the fact that we had to drive 15 miles an hour over the speed limit to keep up with this guy to him getting angry and violent and stranding us at the deserted lot. I was upset, and he could tell, but –surprisingly– I was not crying. The man I spoke with was very concerned and understanding. ” I have kids your age and I would never want them to be put in a dangerous situation like that,” he said. “And there was no reason for the driver to require your money before you had your car. This guy’s an asshole. I’ll talk with him later. And he’s an idiot, because the invoice for your car says the name of the lot where your car was towed. For now, let’s get you your car. And don’t worry about paying anything.”
I was very appreciative for how nice this man was and, of course, for not having to pay for the towing. I retrieved my car and my life is back to normal. I guess everything has just been falling into place so well, like me finding somewhere to live all summer, that something was bound to go wrong.
On an optimistic side –if there is one,– this situation made me realize that prior to Thursday, I can’t remember the last time I had cried. That’s a good sign, right?