Park It.

6 Dec

parking-meter-sunglassesThe other day, I was at 24Hr Fitness in Burbank, completing my new hire orientation to be a kickboxing instructor. If I’m gonna sweat my butt off anyway, why not be minimally compensated for it!

The orientation went longer than I expected, and I wondered whether my stretchy pants tank top thing would become just a lame “look” and never be sweated in. My instructor friend Melissa walked past me and invited me to her spin class.

Me: “Oh cool!” (I’ve only spun one other time. I tried to not sound like that). “When is it?”

Her: “Now!”

Me: “Can idiot non-bike-riders take it?”

Her: “Yeah! It’s awesome.”

I jumped on a stationary bike and my ass was immediately sore. My seat was set up perfectly. What the–-. I imitated everyone else, trying to work hard, but not bruise my butt cheeks. I patted my face with my towel at the same time my classmates did.

Half way thru the class, I remembered I parked in a 2-hour zone on the street. It had been almost 3 hours since I parked. Oh, balls. Do I get off the bike and run out and find the ticket that’s already there anyway, and ruin my workout? Or, do I leave now in the hopes that the parking patrol hasn’t driven by. They are RE-LENT-LESS in the city of Los Angeles.

I decided to will the parking patrol not to drive by for 30 more minutes. A total risk.

I cycled over a few fake mountains, and sweated out the coffee I had that morning, everyone else’s coffee, and then a portion of my brain.

The class was over (it was AWESOME, ps. My butt is still sore.) and I speed-walked outside to find my car and get a quick look at my windshield.

No ticket! HA! A Christmas miracle!

$70 sigh of relief. I hopped in my lil Honda and drove to my apartment for a quick shower.

Then it was off to LA Studios to record voices for LAIKA’s next feature film. I LOVE getting to do this. I’m just the reader in the sessions (I cover all the parts, but the one being recorded), but the people recording are famous.

It’s awesome to watch how they work and hear their takes on the characters. I soak it up like a sponge that wants to be an actor.

After the goodbye-great-working-together hugs, I was back in my car, in some seriously slow rush hour traffic by the 101.

Ervin and I are on SUPERBUDGE(t), so we agreed to meet up for happy hour tacos at Cabo Cantina. It’s like a Gringo Mexican taco hut, in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. And on Tuesdays, they do all-you-can-eat tacos for $5.

Brilliant! I thought to myself.  I can eat like a million tacos any time of day.

When we arrived, I made a pit stop at the ladies’ room to wash my hands. A giant dude threw open the door just as I was reaching for it, saying “DAYYYYYYYUM that shit is ripe in there! WOOOO-EEEEEE. I couldn’t even get my doobie rolled, that shit is rank!” See? It’s a nice place.

I held my breath and went in for a quick hand scrub. Later on, by the smell of things, he got his doobie rolled on the street.

After we were full of tacos, we walked back to my car.

My… car.

— was… right….th—

“OMG my car’s gone.”

Ervin and I looked at the parking signs. I had read them THREE TIMES, and decided it was ok to park. Even reading them again, I didn’t understand why my car would have been towed.

We figured, out of the 4 signs I had to decipher (welcome to Hollywood!), I had misread one of them. I read it top to bottom, instead of left to right. Which made a difference for the “6pm” part of the timeframe.

F.

I called the number on the sign. Office closed. Ervin called the tow companies in Hollywood and we found my car. 10 blocks away. We hoofed it over there to get it, so they wouldn’t charge me any extra time.

We walked the streets in total silence. Past all the tourists, past the people pushing grocery carts. Into a desolate area off of Santa Monica Boulevard.

I walked up to the counter. No hello, just “Which car are you picking up?” It’s like the DMV if everyone hated each other from the very start.

I rode in a tiny golf cart (with a slack seatbelt fastened across my lap), to my car, and got in. There was a parking ticket on the windshield.

I took the ticket and my car’s registration, to the counter.

“Credit or debit.” She slid the receipt toward me.

$114 for the tow. Storage for 1 day $35. Release fee $115. That, plus some LA county fees, and the additional parking ticket I’d have to pay on my own: $350 total.

All for less than 2 hours of actual parking, less than 3 hours of “storage”, and for $5 worth of STUPID HAPPY HOUR TACOS IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE MONEY AND STILL GO OUT FOR A COUPLE HOURS AFTER A LONG DAY OF WORK.

I handed her my debit card and my eyes turned to water. I could have murdered someone right then. I was shaking as I got in the car, where I lost it completely. The lights of Hollywood Blvd blurred in the tears hanging off my eyelashes.

I was mad at myself for misreading the parking signs. They are famously difficult to understand, but I make it a point to read them aloud to myself, before leaving my car. A few times. How could I have messed this up. Why didn’t that stupid valet guy, who watched me park there, say something! This is a scam!

The LA Parking Patrol should have a contest for a slogan. I think my previous suggestion was “We’ve Got You By The Balls”, or “I’ve Just Been F’d Up The A** By LA County”. But maybe “You’re Doing It Wrong” would lend more focus to their mission in the community. It’s incredible that every street in LA isn’t paved with gold, with all the money they’ve brought in – even just from me.

Later at Ervin’s apartment, I sat on the sofa in the dark and thought about how that money could have been used for ANYTHING better. There’s a reason I haven’t spent $350 on the Frye boots I really really really want. It’s because I don’t have it!

And now I really don’t have it. AND, no boots to show for it.

Well. I am grateful (see I can do it, even in this situation) for not getting the ticket earlier in the day. Things would have SUPER sucked, then.

Today, I’m working a double shift at the delivery job. And hoping one of these affluent bastards accidentally tips me $355.

$350 for having my car kidnapped and held hostage.

And $5 for taco damages to my soul.

XX,

L

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6 Responses to “Park It.”

  1. tinykitchenstories December 6, 2012 at 5:22 PM #

    I would have bawled my eyes out too. I got lucky with LA. I parked outside my friends’ house for a few hours, and they got me for not having a front license plate. There had never been a front plate on the car and it was a 10-year-old car. That’s what effing Nazis they are. I think they actually are waiting around the corner for you to leave your car and then they pounce. I’m hoping you find a wallet tomorrow that belongs to an LA parking cop and it’s full of cash. And if you do, keep it.

    • Lauren Bair December 7, 2012 at 2:19 PM #

      I am not above keeping cash in lost wallets. And the actual wallet, if it’s nice leather. And the ID. If it has a picture, prettier than mine. Thank you for condoning this behavior. We as a people must rise up! Hahaha.

  2. clayconnally December 6, 2012 at 6:25 PM #

    That sucks, Lauren! I hate the parking cops here Portland, but I don’t think they’re quite that bad. It happened to me once, in Houston, though. Total tow company scam. The sign that said “tow zone” was pulled up and laying face down in the grass. We found it after my car was missing and we started liking around. The police person actually started chuckling when I told them the address of the missing car. They totally knew about the scam. Dicks.

    On a positive note, I really hope your tip comes through!!

    • Lauren Bair December 7, 2012 at 2:23 PM #

      I’m glad at least to be in good company. WHY, tow trucks, WHY!?!?! They totally are bribing people to bust us. How else would they make their money if they weren’t insanely fast and secretive about it. They’re GIANT TRUCKS. I’m gonna start a new Monster Truck Smash company that just drives over tow trucks and crushes them at random.

      My own community service ;)

  3. suzy j December 7, 2012 at 2:13 PM #

    I’m so sorry my friend. On the other hand I am sooooo happy for you with the new hire! Let me know if you ever need a sub. I think I’m going to have to just be a sub for a while and give up my Thursday til I handle some family matters. sigh. (do you want me to put your name in the hat for Thursday?)

    I want to be the kind of girl that cycles and spins but the few times I have I have had to promptly come home to confess to my husband that I didn’t’ mean to but I made love to a bike. I was sore and I deserved it for cheating on him with a machine but I promised him it wasn’t good and I would never go back! ;) I adore you my friend! Let’s try to get together for lunch with Beth! Loves!

    • Lauren Bair December 7, 2012 at 2:21 PM #

      THOSE were my exact thoughts as I was taking the class. I was like “Is the seat supposed to be right there when I’m standing?” Good grief.

      Lunch (and subbing for each other in TKB!) sounds amazing!! Let’s work it out very soon. XOXO!

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