See the van in the photo? That's where my car was parked yesterday. I don't have a picture of it in that spot because, like most people, I'm not in the habit of photographing my parking whereabouts. But, as you can see, the spot is legal. The "no parking anytime" arrow points in the opposite direction, and unlike this van, the back end of my Fiat Cinquecento was well in front of the post. Thus, you can imagine my confusion when I walked to this spot yesterday morning and found my car missing.
The joke used to be that I would park in spots labeled "handicapped, no standing, no parking anytime, fire hydrant, driveway active 24 hours, private garage door, and reserved for the FBI," but I've come a long way. I pay attention! I follow the rules! I know that you can't park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, that most midtown streets only have metered parking after 7pm, that you can't turn right on red (Michiganders, beware!), that you have to watch for the "no turn before x time" on avenues, that street cleaning usually happens every two days on the Upper West, that "no standing" really means "don't even think about it for a second," and that "I was just grabbing a coffee from Starbucks, it only took a minute!" isn't a valid excuse for a meter reader.
After I confirmed that I was on the right street, and that I had in fact parked my car there the night before, a flurry of phone calls ensued and I ended up, rain-soaked and angry, at Pier 76, the NYPD tow pound. I considered documenting the experience in photos beginning with the sad, drab waiting room and the less than punctilious government employees, but it took all the energy I had to remain calm and keep it civil.
I spent a couple hours walking back and forth from the waiting area to the windowed counter of doom, and commiserated with the other poor souls whose days had been ruined by the seemingly arbitrary hand of the traffic police. Eventually, we were all ushered out into the cavernous garage, helped into a 12-seater van, and taken on a ride, kind of like one at Epcot, except that all the special effects were in your mind as you wondered fearfully about what was going to happen next.
$180 and a whole morning later, I was back on the West Side highway and heading home. Just one more story to add to the annals of "one girl's encounters with the powers that be."