the great towing epic of 2004 Or: why i hate san fransisco

before I begin, let me give credit where ’tis due. This post was inspired by the lovely Sarah of the Pink Shoe Diaries. Go read her tale of woe, and then send her money. or gift certificates.

So a few years ago, I did a West Coast Tour: flew into LA, hit Phoenix for an overnight trip, back to LA, and then a drive up to San Fransisco for a few days with an old friend. It was a good plan, except for how I was gone for like, 12 days. By the time I got to San Fransisco I officially had vacation fatigue, and found myself longing for the mundane things in life: takeout food, cheap wine, and a rental DVD. To make things worse, even on a good day I find SF to be mildly unsettling. As an East Coaster, I enjoy public solitude and rudeness. It makes me nervous when people smile at me on the street, remember my name, and wear quirky clothing ensembles. (As my friend described an imromptu costume parade: “it’s just Berklee being Berklee”.) The whole thing was very not my scene, and I found the situation more and more undesirable as the trip wore on.

By my last day in in town, my discomfort had reached a screaming fever pitch, and I decided that the only option, if I valued my sanity, was to get real drunk and stay that way until my plane touched down in Boston. That morning, we went to a creperie for breakfast, and along with my salmon-and-egg confection I quaffed four or five fizzy boozy beverages. Well sauced at last, I was happy as a pig in shit.

It should be said, at this point, that my friend has always had great cars and horrid luck WITH said cars. In high school, he replaced three clutches, four motor mounts, and two timing belts. All in, like, nine months. At the time of my visit, he was driving a cherry-red BMW 2002 (model 2002, not year 2002) and he loved that thing more than life. He did all the maintenance himself, and treated it with all the tenderness one affords a vehicle that’s older than one’s younger sibling.

So imagine his horror when we left the creperie to find that his car was missing. naturally, his first instinct was to report it stolen, but a quick call to the San Fransisco RMV confirmed my suspicion that they’d impounded the vehicle for nonpayment of fees. He was devastated. He had no money, he told me, and he was already late on rent. His registration had expired, and there were a few parking tickets, plus the impound fee, so it would be about $450 to get the car back, he thought, and where would he come up with the money.

Drunk and magnanimous, I offered to lend the necessary funds. This was more than a maudlin gesture on my part: without his ride I had no way to get to the airport, and a few more days in that city would surely have sent me into anaphylactic shock.

Ridiculously liquored as I was, I remember the day in bright flashes of heat and color: there were several hours spent waiting in line at the DMV, where I wrote a check for an ungodly amount of money, there was a crosstown jaunt to the courthouse where I forked over most of my cash, there was some forced running, during which I almost threw up, and then a frantic taxi ride to the impound lot, which was added to my tab. Three hundred became four hundred, late fees compounded upon late fees, and as the day wore on and the tally increased, things seemed less like an adventure and more like a complete nightmare. Five hours and one massive hangover later, the grand total paid hovered somewhere in the realm of $750.00

Let’s look at that again.

Seven Hundred and Fifty Dollars.

For a car that wasn’t even mine.

You can bet your ass I redoubled my efforts at total psychic obliteration as soon as we left the lot.

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