Friday, September 3, 2010

Memo to new people at 59 Clarendon: Welcome to the hood. Now please leave.

Even though I've spent my entire adult life as a city dweller, once in a while someone does something so astoundingly rude and idiotic that I find myself daydreaming of houses with yards and pools. And private driveways.

Anyone who lives in the heart of Boston, or any other major city, knows that we're always engaged in a game I like to call competitive parking. The city issues more residential permits than they have available street parking spots. The vehicular musical chairs exercise is further complicated by temporary parking bans caused by street cleanings, construction vehicles and, of course, moving trucks.

If you park in these temporarily banned spaces, the city tows your car to a vast and desolate lot off the highway and holds it hostage until you find your way down there and cough up $105. That's in addition to the orange $75 ticket they tuck under the windshield wipers.

Wednesday evening, the first of September, I parked on Clarendon Street, around the corner from our apartment. There was a moving sign posted in the space for that day (9/1/10); the times noted had passed; the space was perfectly legal. On the morning of September 2nd, R. walked past the car before 8 a.m., noticed the red and white sign, almost panicked, but then saw that it was from the previous day.

Imagine my surprise when the Grape and I walked by at three o'clock in the afternoon and saw a well-dressed but sweaty man hurling a fairly creative string of obscenities at some movers who were doing their best to pretend they didn't understand English. They had towed his car. My mind was working slowly in the heat, so it took me a moment to realize mine was gone, too.

And there was a sign, warning TOW ZONE: Moving Vehicles Only, with yesterday's date (9/2/10).

The City of Boston requires permits be posted 48 hours in advance. Which means that on Wednesday, the signs for Thursday should have been posted right NEXT to the Wednesday signs. In fact, they should have been firmly affixed there by Tuesday.

The new people at 59 Clarendon know they messed up. How am I sure? Because they posted their signs on top of the previous signs, to make it look like they were there all along, when clearly they were added once the move was already in progress.

I wasn't the only overheated and disgruntled car owner out there yesterday afternoon taking pictures.

I called the city, tracked down the car, which they'd towed around 11 a.m., and learned how to contest the ticket. Then the Grape and I piled into a cab in the hundred degree heat. Of course the cab had no air conditioning. And of course the Grape, who was cranky and hot and tired, was balanced on my hip throughout the entire dirty, sticky overheated hourlong 3-step car retrieval experience. Naturally they'd towed the car seat and our umbrella stroller along with the vehicle.

I'm confident after speaking with a couple of people in the parking department, who had already heard from other residents whose cars were towed by these yet-to-be-identified jackasses moving into 59 Clarendon, that I'll get my ticket dismissed and the $105 bail for my car refunded. Of course I'll have to spend a morning at City Hall to make that happen.

Huge hassle? Of course. But it will be worth the trip. Evidently the city keeps records of the individuals to whom they issue permits. I'm going to file a complaint along with me appeal and ask that the city seek reimbursement from the permit holders (i.e. the new folks at 59 Clarendon) for the money the taxpayers will need to reimburse me.

And maybe, once I calm down sufficiently, I'll write the 59 Clarendon people a letter, too, asking for my $12 cab fare back.

I need to wait a day or two, though, because if I pen such a missile now, I'll be too tempted to tell them to go back to whatever backwater they came from. Because obviously they don't know how to play nicely with others, which should be a basic prerequisite for moving into a densely populated area.

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