Wow, what a day. Steven and I were really in the mood for India food today, so we decided to go to Taj Mahal for their delicious lunch buffet. I rushed out the door a few minutes late as usual, but when I went out to the parking lot to hop inside my beloved navy VW Beetle.......it...wasn't...there.
I admit I've had a few of these moments before. Although we live in a small condo complex where it doesn't take long to recognize the people who live there and the cars they drive, I've gotten a little nervous a few times trying to find my "girl," when she was really only hiding behind the dumpster or the plumber's van. Then there's the time we forgetfully left it at Pei Wei the night before and took only one car home.
Oh, but not today. She was nowhere to be found. I walked the entire parking lot about 3 times, trying not to panic, and then called Steven. We talked through it, going over every single thing I had done since Tuesday to see if there was any possibility it was somewhere else, until we were certain it was really gone. THEN, I panicked. With a sudden lump in my throat, I began to rationalize. Did someone really steal my car? How did they get around the alarm? She does make for a great joyride, but come on?? I didn't leave anything valuable lying around, and I would have given them my yoga mat and old sweaty towel in the back seat if they had just asked nicely!
Steven calmly came to get me, and we stood in the parking lot, wondering why someone would want to steal my car, especially when it has a security system that's flashing at all times, and it's surrounded by like 5 purple hoopties that you could steal in a minute flat with a hanger and an ATM card. I was on the verge of tears. That's when my genius husband saw the sign nailed to one of the buildings boldly stating that all cars that don't belong to residents can be towed at anytime at the owner's expense. There's no way they towed my car out of our own parking lot in the middle of the night when I wasn't even doing anything illegal....right? We've lived here for almost a year. I was just parked there peacefully. Steven decided to call the towing company just to see if perhaps it was true. It was. And it was going to cost $138.30 to get her back. We didn't know why they did it yet; we just wanted to get to AJ's Towing as quickly as possible. I hate to say this, but it's quite possible that I might have dropped an F bomb (or two) on the way there. I don't get angry often, but I was L-I-V-I-D.
AJ's Towing is conveniently located in one of the worst areas of Dallas...pretty much as far as you could get from our apartment while still being considered in city limits. Once we got there, we found out that they had "stickered" my rear windshield as a "warning" at midnight last night because they didn't see our condo's parking permit in the window. They then came back and towed it at 4am since it hadn't been moved. All I have to say about that is a) I would have put the stupid permit on my mirror if it would have fit on my mirror but instead it was stuck under my emergency break because it kept flying around on my dash, and b) I'm pretty sure only a 4 hour warning to move my car IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT ON A THURSDAY was not only unfair but utterly ridiculous.
The lady behind the protective glass window at the towing place didn't care as we tried to explain the situation through the tiny metal microphone. Although I really just wanted to stomp my feet and scream "MINE MINE MINE!" like a 2-year-old having a temper tantrum, we were as polite as possible to her given the circumstances. She just poked out the bank drive-thru metal box and left it there, waiting for my license, payment, and any other printed proof that I was indeed the owner of this car.
The next thing we found out was that they took cash and exact change only. Oh great. I suddenly felt like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail when she's in the "cash-only" line at Zabars: "She has no cash?? She has no CASH. Oh, get in anotha line, lady!" Steven spotted an ATM standing boldly in the dust next to the building but it was broken. And since we're not in the business of carrying $138.30 in exact change in either of our wallets, we ventured further into the bowels of inner-city Dallas to find an ATM. About 20 minutes later with cash in hand, we approached the lady again and made the payment.
Once I had my car back - 3.5 hours, a few gray hairs, and 1/2 missed day of work later - I softened a bit. I hate that it took getting my possession back for me to remember how thankful I am for it, but admittedly, that is what happened. It could have been SO much worse right? My girl could have been stolen and shamefully stripped for parts after a wild joyride. We could have no car at all, instead of two. We could have zero dollars in our bank account and no way to get the car back. Or I could be the owner of the purple hooptie :). I took a deep breath. With my newfound humility and gratefulness, I gave her a nice hearty smile and a wave as I clicked the remote, setting my trusty alarm once again.