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*Poll Question: The first sounds grittier, the second seems more... adventureful. What do you think, CN?
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The night before, laying in my ex's bed (she was on the couch, granting me some reprieve from the elements as a favor) my spider sense was tingling. Not only has there been a marked sensation of anxiety or danger preceding a lot of the trouble I've gotten in, it has been remarkably accurate. While it hasn't always gone off before I jump into hot water, it has never gone off as a false alarm. So accurate that it seems more paranormal rather than just the accumulation of signals that make one's "intuition." Though I know it to be just that. And last night it was ringing good. I was worried about my car.
Several times I almost got out of bed and walked the several blocks to move it. But, I was tired, exhausted even, and told myself that it would be alright.
At 7:30 am, the next morning, I get a text from the Girlfriend inviting me over. I dropped in just to let them know I was going to check on my car and be right back. They were quite surprised then when I tore into the driveway some 45 minutes or so later covered in sweat, panting like a dog, with expletives coursing forth.
45 minutes earlier: rounding the corner to the one-way street I snap my fingers excitedly when I see my vehicle. But something didn't seem right. There was something on my windshield. My relief soon vanishes as I approach.
They put a boot on my car.
In matters of state, he who has the power often has the right, and he who is weak can only with difficulty keep from being wrong in the opinion of the majority of the world.
~ Richelieu, Political Testament
This is one of my favorite quotes. I use it a lot and may even repeat it a few times here. A lot of quotes just sound good, or espouse some inspiring or insightful look at things. This quote is not only nails the nature of human interaction, but is equally applicable to people as well as states.
For those who don't know. A boot is a device, shaped like a giant C-clamp and placed around the tire of those who have outstanding fines to who ever runs the parking authority of a city. The intended purpose is to immobilize the vehicle and motivate the person into paying their fines. But, of course, nothing is that simple, they charge you for the violation, they compound the previous fines, and then the charge you to take the boot off. In this case, there are three different companies involved.
Cities, in light of our global financial situation, are seeking to maximize their revenues in a variety of inventive ways. A growing trend around the country is to tax the !@#$ out of any parking violation. People need their vehicles to continue going to work, or in my case, to live in. What once was a city service (the removal of vehicles who block the way) has turned into a profit driven scheme that enriches the city, the officials who negotiate the contracts with towing companies (kickbacks), and pours money hand over fist into the towing vultures, who use a variety of shady activities in order to get your vehicle. It's a win-win for towing companies, either you pay up, or they keep your car.
That's the law.
Of course, if you don't ever screw up, you'll never have a problem. But if you do, prepare to pay.
My car is obviously owned by a poor person. It's old. It's dirty. It has a plethora of body damage. Hell, you can see all my stuff inside it. And one thing I know about having an old broken car (and I've had several) is that people will report your ass in a heartbeat. In front of a park or public place, a car can sit for several days before the parking authority notices. If you move it around these places, nobody really cares, but park it on a small street and somebody will call the cops.
I can't really be mad, it's human nature to repulse those poorer than you. And surely one of those college pukes reported my vehicle within a day. That's fine, what ever. I'm not even mad at the parking authority. If you get fines, pay them. Or else. It's pretty simple.
However, all the understanding in the world did not make the inevitability of losing my home any better as I studied the large plastic "bill" plastered to my windshield. The charges were more than I would ever be able to pay. If I didn't pay them, the towing company would be by, probably within the end of the morning and take my car and all my stuff away. Forever.
I looked at the boot.
Well $%&@ that. Nobody takes my !@#$.
I sprang into action. Looking down one side of the street and then the other. No cops. Studying the boot, tugging on it, it won't come off the tire. It's got a solid vending machine type lock. The bolt cutters won't cut through it since it's iron or steel thicker than my wrist even in the smallest width. I gotta do something. A plan forms. I open the trunk, remove the jack and tire iron and...
Flashback: Three weeks ago. I'm at the storage unit trying to reorganize my stuff. I'm concerned about the weight of my cargo. Recently I read an article that said Ford increased the mpg of several of their cars by removing the spare tires that used to accompany every sale. A lot of people have some sort of road side service now. Plus, a lot fewer people know how to change a tire. I look at my trunk space. I look at my tire. I think about the cost of fuel. I look at my trunk space. I look at my tire.
I look at my trunk space. I grab the tire and pull it out of the trunk. As quickly as I can, because moving a booted vehicle or attempting to remove a boot is a crime, I get the jack under the car and start raising it up. It's on a slope so it takes some time. I begin to hear someone talking on their cell phone. !@#$. They could be reporting me. I start working on the bolts, the plastic center pops off loudly and clatters in the street. I re-lower the car to get more traction with the tire. People are waking up and cars are starting to pass by. The car sways backwards as the tire begins to come loose, and the jack collapses sideways. $%&@. Getting an exercise weight from the trunk I chock the back tire and push the spare under the side body to stabilize it. Working the jack down, replace it, jack the car back up. I'm sweating heavily now, it's pouring off my forehead and my whole shirt is soaked. Some one is watching me from their porch. I'm loosing the nuts as quick as I can with my finger. The iron slides off the last of the nuts. Damn it, it's shearing the nut. If it strips it I won't be able to get the tire off. I use the other end of the tire iron and bust off the cap of the end of the twisted nut. Finally, after working it around some and moving the tire, I get the iron solidly over the bolt. Using my foot and weight of my body, the final squelch signifies the release and I unscrew the nut. Yanking the tire off, I throw it, boot and all, into the trunk and get the other tire on.
Of course the battery is dead.
But I have my jumpstarter and in movements I've done so many times before, get the starter on the battery, get the car roaring and take one last quick look around to make sure I didn't leave anything laying on the ground before taking off.
My adrenaline is pumping as I try to steer my car in a smooth, inconspicuous manner, to a spot un-viewable from the street. Since my license is suspended, I only move my car in select times and never very far. Morning rush hour traffic is not one of those times.
Finally, destination in sight. I get my car parked and covered. Safe. For now. My body is literally dripping with sweat, hands covered in grease.
They're will be repercussions. They'll charge for the boot. They might be looking for my car right now. That's OK. They'll get their money. Eventually. In the meantime, nobody takes my !@#$.
Later, as I'm washing up in the Girlfriends bathroom, I go for a little spritz on my shirt to mask some of the sweat smell. The body spray bottle is broken. With usual compulsive, and sometimes obsessive, tendency that halts all other action, I take apart the bottle and fiddle with the parts until I figure out what's wrong. I put it back together and test it. It works!
Feeling satisfied, I turn to exit the bathroom. And I can't get the door open. I struggle with the simple drop latch. Took me forever to get out.
More idiot, less savant.