Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How much did that free parking spot cost me anyway? UPDATED.

I am really not a fan of going to Uptown, first of all. This is just one of the things that makes me Old, but the going to Uptown time of my life has passed and I don't miss it. Still, I can be coaxed there for good reasons, like some essential movie that is ONLY playing at the Lagoon, for example. Or for bar trivia supporting a worthy cause, in this specific instance. The trivia and the friends playing it were the only reasons I went to that stupid bar in the first place.

My car, you need to know, has been kind of a pain in the ass this winter. It starts right up, it's fun to drive, I still love it and feel perfectly comfortable in it, etc, but it is not good in deep snow. What I used to accomplish with the brute force of a large sedan, I can no longer accomplish without pushes from kindly strangers. I'm a good driver in snow and know how to use momentum and steering and such to avoid getting stuck, but sometimes you just get screwed. And at this point in the winter, I am probably not going to buy the snow tires, let's face it, even though I keep talking about it--not unless I come across a really good deal. I should have bought them on Black Friday like all the savvy tire shoppers.

Anyway, so there I was, cruising around Uptown last Wednesday evening looking for a place to park. It was about 37 degrees that day, which I admit I kind of resented. I don't want to be pulled out of my winter groove with tantalizing warmups unless the thaw is well and truly here, and the thaw is still at least 6 weeks away. I'd rather it just stayed reasonably cold until spring. I spotted a parking spot on a free street, which is a coup in Uptown, and I rolled into it. As soon as I parked, I knew I'd made a mistake. Thanks to the warmup, the snow was deep, mushy, and slippery, and I was going to be stuck in it. But I figured I'd deal with it after trivia, when I had friends to help push the car if necessary.

Trivia, which we lost by one point thanks to some illogical scoring rules, morphed into drinks at a new Russian bar that is stupidly clandestine (in the sense that there isn't clear signage outside) but fun. So it was 1 AM when I tried to rock my car out of that spot, with Laura pushing, to no avail. The temperature was dropping and I was digging myself a hole. So I abandoned my vehicle, like a young partying whippersnapper, and got a ride home.

On Thursday, the last thing I wanted to do was go back to goddamn Uptown. But there was a blizzard coming. I rode my bike to Emily's (why?), where I borrowed a shovel, ate some banana bread, postponed the inevitable, and finally called a cab. By the time the cab arrived, the blizzard was happening for real, and the cab could only crawl along with its rear-wheel drive (WHY?). But the cabbie was very kind and spacey and he just turned off the meter, since there was so much RWD-related rerouting. We were having a hard time getting up hills and turning corners. "Let's call it $10," he said. He dropped me off at my car, all concerned for my fate. I paid him $13 (total so far: $13) and commenced to digging.

After about 15 minutes the cab circled back around the block, where I was still resolutely not moving. "I wanted to make sure you got out," he said. He tried to push my car; my car dug itself deeper into a nice little ice rut. Another dude stopped to help push and we got absolutely nowhere. I thanked them and sent them away, determined to use the roadside assistance that came with my car warranty. Well, guess what? The roadside assistance only covers towing for warranty-covered mechanical breakdowns. Otherwise you can roadside-assist your own ass, or pay $85 to get winched out. The person on the phone was very apologetic, and I told her I better explore my options. The snow fell. The minutes ticked by. I was paralyzed by indecision, and immobilized by snow, so once I determined that I wasn't parked in a place where I'd be towed, I decided to go home and deal with it the following day. I bought some gatorade and dill pickle chips to help me retain water ($3) and took the bus home ($2.25). Running total for the free parking: $18.25.

When I got home, I added roadside assistance to my insurance policy--about $5 for the remainder of my policy period. The only reason I declined it in the first place was because of the stupid Mazda roadside assistance. Stupid! Running total for the free parking: $23.25.

On Friday, it was cold as hayull. I bundled up and got on the bus again ($1.75, off-peak, booya!). I got to the car, cleared it off, and ordered roadside assistance with the insurance company app. After a half hour I got a call apologetically informing me that because the roads were such a nightmare in my area (thanks to the thaw-blizzard-freeze trifecta), all tow trucks had basically been commandeered by the police for emergencies and they wouldn't be able to send anyone to me. Roadside assist your own ass, part deux! This is when I finally cried a little bit and started posting sad things on social media about my plight and considered just letting my car be towed to the impound lot, fuck it. Then I googled hardware stores in the area and walked over to the nearest one to buy a shovel with ice-smashing capabilities ($13). I took my new shovel to a coffee shop to soothe myself with treats ($4.50). And then! Friends texted to say they were coming to rescue me! I hustled back to the car and started manically chopping the ice, snow, and slush that had engulfed my front tires. I was manually lifting 20 pound icewads out from under the car and chucking them in the snowbank. Functional fitness!

The rescue operation that ensued involved two friends, a prophylactic call to AAA on their card (estimated time: 2-4 hours), two strangers, some cardboard (useless), my floor mats (equally useless), two shovels (one useless), a costume change (I was way overheated), and pushing out the van in front of me before we all united to push my car out. Grand total: $42.50, plus a ton of goodwill and tire rubber.

Another sign you're Old: you don't drive around trying to score free parking. Next time I'm paying to park in a fucking ramp.

ETA: Oh my god, I can't believe I forgot to add one of the most offensive/sad costs. Thursday night I was supposed to go see Lucius, a show I'd had tickets for for AGES. Guess who couldn't face going back out immediately after getting home on that exhausting/demoralizing Thursday? Add $20 to my tally for the ticket no one could use.


  1. What a great story though. :) Makes me miss living in the Midwest only very minimally. We got like 4" of snow in NC a couple weeks ago and basically everything shutdown for like 4 days. Ha. Also it made me realize that while I thought I missed snow, I really don't. I miss the romance and foreplay of snow, but not the prolonged breakup due to irreconcilable differences.

  2. Dear god. Once again I'm awed by your midwestern hardiness. My version of this story would've involved many more snacks and tears.

  3. WOW! What a day. Good story though. You're a badass.