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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You're In Good Hands, Unless... (Part II)

B  claimed to be impressed by my calm as we sat in the parking lot at the corner of 8th and U in Northwest D.C. at 2:30 a.m., waiting for the Good Hands People to take my call so a tow truck could be sent to pick up my car, whose keys had gone on the lam, along with the thieves who stole them.  

I explained to B that I no longer form sentimental attachments to cars.  I view them mainly as a means to an end, not unlike the way beef farmers regard cattle.  Since we were killing time I ticked off a string of car-related mishaps to illustrate the evolution of my philosophy:
 ·       In 2003, a thief broke into my car near Dupont Circle. He or she raided my trunk, where my work laptop lived, right next to my gym bag.  The latter housed my prized 2002 D.C. Marathon Finisher T-shirt. Race T-shirts are usually a dime a dozen but this one was a collector’s item.  The D.C. Marathon was run only one time due to what some runners and spectators described as an appalling lack of event planning skills on the part of the organizers.  I found this judgment a bit harsh.  Not knowing where you were supposed to run added a certain element of excitement that’s all too often lacking at Mile 23 of most marathons, I thought. After all, it’s hard to hit “the wall” if you can’t find it. 
  •  Less than six months after the Dupont Circle break-in a car struck me while I was crossing the street --in a crosswalk and with the full encouragement of the little flashing white guy--one block from my home in Falls Church. While this mishap (a story for another day) didn’t involve my own car it still tends to show that I don’t have the best luck when it comes to vehicles.
 ·       In 2004, my 1995 Honda Civic was abducted in broad daylight from in front of my house while I was at work.
 ·       Five years later vandals smashed the passenger side window of my little blue Acura as it sat under a Capitol Hill streetlight. Every now and then I’m reminded of this petty crime when I happen onto a stray bit of glass or the power window rolls up just outside of the door frame and creates a charming “whoosh”ing sound for the occupants.
 “No wonder you don’t care much about cars,” B said.    

An agent finally got on the line after half an hour. Based on the cadence of his speech and its intellectual content, I considered suggesting that he audition for the role of Spicoli in the remake of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but I stayed focused on my mission.  He said he was going to put me on hold while he contacted towing companies.  He promised the hold would be "brief."  As a lawyer, I'm ashamed of myself for failing to ask him what the meaning of the word "brief" is. 

The ensuing ten minute wait consumed most of my phone's battery and all of my patience. When Spicoli came back on the line he said he’d dispatched a tow truck and it should arrive by 3:20 a.m. He instructed me to remain with the vehicle.
At this point I told B, who had to work the next day, that he should head home since this wasn’t his problem.  He refused to leave me there, citing safety concerns.  He had a point.  The “late shift” had arrived at 8th and U and it didn’t seem friendly.  After we witnessed an altercation between two guys in a car and the pedestrian they almost struck, followed by heated negotiations involving, how shall I say, a pharmaceutical transaction, we decided to stroll around the block. 
On our third pass and at 3:20 on the dot, a flatbed tow truck appeared. The driver surveyed the cramped parking lot and the position of my car in relation to two other vehicles parked near it.  He shook his head. 
 "This ain't gonna work, lady. I can't get in there. This truck is too big and it's the wrong kind.”  He didn’t add “duh” at the end of this statement but it was implicit.  “You needed a wheel lift.”  The look on my face –a mixture of confusion and anger I’m grateful not to have seen--caused him to launch into a detailed explanation of the different types of tow trucks and their uses.
I interrupted in what I hope was a diplomatic way, conveying that I would be profoundly interested in the subject matter under any other circumstances but at the moment was slightly concerned about the time. He offered to try to get another truck sent but expressed no confidence that he could get one.  He suggested that I try my insurance company again.
[Tune back in for Part III, The Finale!]


  1. I'm getting tired just reading this! Uuugggh! Can't wait for Part III--I'm on the edge of my seat!

    1. I don't think it will disappoint, and with any luck it will keep you awake!

  2. I have to wait for another installment? How do I know you're not still there waiting??? (I guess that you stopped by my office yesterday should be my first clue that you made it out...)

    1. But perhaps I'm still going back to maintain the night vigil, you never know.