Don't you just love hearing this over the phone from your daughter away at school?She calls me the other day and says "Something very, very bad happened."I steeled myself. "What is it?""Thecargottowed.""Huh?""Thecargottowed.""Say it one more time, slowly.""The. Car. Got. Towed."*boggle*"How could you be so moronic to park in a tow-away zone in downtown Philadelphia, 'The City Of Brotherly Love And Not A Few Parking Tickets™,' and think you weren't going to get TOWED?"She launches into a long explanation which, boiled down, was "I rolled the dice in a part-time tow away zone and lost."So after work, I leave the beautiful Princeton area in the pouring rain for the relaxing 50 mile trip to Philadelphia. In the pouring rain. With the crazy Rt. 95 drivers. They ARE a breed unto themselves. Did I mention that it was raining?We get to the apartment. I pick up the daughter and sally forth into the night, looking for the Philadelphia Parking Authority impound lot. It's somewhere around Penn's Landing, in the seedier side of town.We get there, and I feel like I'm driving into a penitentiary. You walk in, stand behind the yellow line till the clerk notices you from behind the bulletproof glass, and then you step forward at his behest. If you don't move quickly enough, there's a guard in the room telling you that you can move forward now. Control freaks, all of them.We pay the vigorish to the cashier get the car out. $100 towing fee and $11.50 a day. Hully gee.We then move to Line 2, where we wait behind the next yellow line while some obviously pissed off individual is dealing with the clerk. DD notices sign on the wall that says "Registration and insurance card needed to release vehicle." She whispers, "Dad, the registration..." "Shh, " I say. The clerk has finished with the other agitated individual and is beckoning me. The guard reinforces this with a reminder that we should now move. The clerk gets our paperwork out, examines suspiciously the reciept that's been printed a scant 2' away from him scarcely 5 minutes ago, and then says "Registration and insurance card?""They're in the vehicle."He fills out a pass to allow an escort to the car to get the needful documents. I hand it to DD. "Here, you can do something useful." She looks at me hopelessly. "I tried to tell you -- I don't have the registration and insurance."*boggle* *boggle*"WHAT?""You took them out of the car...""Oh no, don't you pin this on me. I don't take car documents out of the car. Ever. The most I do is leave 'em on the seat so the mechanic can inspect it.""Well, Eric (her BF) said they were on the counter..." (at home, she means, in the Lehigh Valley, which, I remind the Gentle Reader, is NOT convenient to the Philadelphia Parking Authority impound lot with 5 minutes to go until closing.) I tell her "Well go look anyway. Maybe Eric put them back." She goes to the yard attendant. I give the guard in the room a roll of the eyes and a smile as if to say "Kids." She stares at me as if she wishes she had a cattle prod. I give up and stare at the sternly worded posters on the wall.She returns, empty handed. I return, unbidden, to Window #2. I tell the clerk that the documents aren't in the vehicle. He says, "Okay, when you come back bring this reciept to prove you paid for the towing and the one day. You'll only have to pay for the extra days of storage" [at $11.50/day, mind you.]I thank the clerk, who's actually rather nice, and leave, offering a pleasant evening to the guard. She stares at me. I make a mental note to tell them (AFTER my car is on the other side of the barbed wire) that the word "Commonwealth" is spelled wrong on all of their amateur signage.It's a silent ride back to JFK Boulevard. I leave her at her apartment, with a stern warning to hold onto the receipt for the towing. "That receipt's worth a hundred bucks." I mentally plan my foray into the insurance company and AAA Northampton for the replacement registration card.I leave and get on the Schuylkill west for the long trip home. About halfway to the Northeast Extension of the PA turnpike I hear the crackle on the CB: "Northeast extension is shut down, north and southbound. 5 tractor trailers. Take 309 to Qtown or 422 to Pottsville and pick up Rt. 100 to Allentown." There's no way in hell I'm driving back into Philly, so I elect to take 422 to Rt. 100. "Thanks, driver. You just made my night," I reply.More and more, I think you should raise kids in a barrel and feed them through the bunghole. Then when they turn 18, drive in the bung.
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