Hello, Jalopnik pals. It’s been a while. Some may have wondered what I’ve been up to since my summer internship at this glorious website ended, so I’m writing to let you know just what I’ve been doing: Being a massive, unmitigated disaster of a person. To prove it (as if you needed proof) I got a very nice, innocent press car towed last week.
“I left it over the weekend in a tow zone and realized on Monday that the car wasn’t there. And when I went to the lot, they wouldn’t release it to me since the registration wasn’t in my name. We had to get the fleet company to come down to the impound and sort it out, it was a whole big thing.”
That’s the abridged version of a story the PR woman for Honda told me on Friday when we had lunch together, ahead of getting a car I was testing for CNBC.
“Yeah, I figured that would be a disaster. I’m always super careful about parking press cars, because God knows what would happen if some $50,000 with California distributor plates got towed and a dumb college kid showed up to pick it up.”
I’m paraphrasing, but I genuinely did act like the paragon of rule-following. It set the stage quite nicely for this conversation, just four days later.
In my defense, I didn’t park sideways across six handicapped spots at a local preschool or block a fire hydrant next to a currently enflamed building.
I parked in an empty space, flanked by another empty space, in the garage attached to my swanky apartment. Not only do I pay handsomely for a spot in that garage, I only live in this bougie totem to gentrification because it’s the only place around with a secure garage where I can safely stow six-figure press cars without keeping PR people up at night.
However, while I rent a spot in the garage I do not rent the spot in the garage from which this lovely Acura RDX was towed. In fact, while I rent a spot in the garage I sometimes use three spots in the garage.
Not normally one to play with fire, I usually park my fleet at the far end of the rooftop where almost every spot is always empty. Spots are assigned, so the press car always goes in the one I have a legal claim to. If something’s getting towed, I’d rather it be my 1999 4Runner or broken Town Car then a car loaned to me for work.
But Monday night was rough. It was a long, busy day during which I realized that I may drown in work over these next few weeks between finals, writing, and traveling for college Model UN. (Editor’s note: LOL)
There’s only one thing that cures this kind of ailment: Mike & Ike’s. It was a weird craving, but I popped over to the supermarket to snag some of this objectively terrible but delicious candy.
When I returned, my spot was occupied by some jackwagon in a Jeep Compass. Said jackwagon parks in my spot often, but I try not to be an asshole and just park in one of the empty spots on the roof. I don’t want to put him through the rigamarole of getting towed.
This time, though, I didn’t park on the roof. As I’ve alluded to, I am a moron. A moron having a bad day is not prone to wise decision making, so—facing the option of parking in the pouring rain and wetting the cardboard box of my Mike & Ike’s—I opted to park one level down in an unoccupied spot.
I should mention that I’ve done this once before, in a Cadillac CT6. For three days. On the third, there was a note that said “MOVE IMMEDIATELY. WE ARE TOWING,” which effectively scared me off the practice. But this was one night; I figured I had a few freebies before the car disappeared. I wasn’t worried a bit.
At about 5:40 the next day, I crossed the little bridge to the garage and landed on the third floor. I go into the garage and, to my surprise, the RDX isn’t there. Maybe it’s on the roof and I forgot about it? I go up. Not there. Second floor? Down I go. Not there. Missed it the first time? Back to the third. I’m mashing the panic button, but the car isn’t making a peep. I’m panicking, but honestly I can’t blame the button for that.
For the first time ever, I have this thought: “Jesus, I hope I got towed.” The hassle and financial burden of being towed were sure to suck, but if I got this car stolen, I’m not going to live that down.
After confirming with the apartment complex that I was towed and not robbed (debatable), I’ve now had enough time to begin seething with rage.
I am not an angry man; at 5’ 6” and 135 pounds, I’ve found anger to be unproductive, given my inability to scare anyone. I’ve only been actually angry twice this whole year, so it was all ready to fly out now. Doors were slammed and obscenities yelled at no one in particular.
Luckily, my friend Faraz lives a block up the road and gave me a ride to the impound. We joked around and he cooled me from a full boiling pot of rage to a simmering teacup of rage—a marked improvement to be sure.
“I’m not going to be that asshole that screams at the people at the tow lot. I’m just not,” I told him.
The people who work at tow lots are often soulless monsters who feed on the misfortune of others, but they didn’t technically screw me over. They just picked up the phone when my apartment complex decided to screw me over.
In the end, the car was unharmed and released to me without extra fuss. I had a laugh with the nice PR person from Honda, who could certainly commiserate. And, per Jalopnik tradition, I offered to make a Post of Shame for screwing up with a press car. The only thing left was to sort out why this happened, so it doesn’t happen again.
I have made no effort to conceal that I am a rule-breaking moron whose sins are finally catching up to him. However, I maintain that the specific series of actions I was punished for was actually entirely not my fault.
First, the guy who stole my spot was still there when I got back. I’m not the kind of “you screw me, I screw you” guy to snitch on him, so I left a note on his car with my phone number. After we both talked to the front office, here’s what we found out.
He was assigned spot 4EE, but either misheard or was told by the office to park in spot 4BB. The reason he kept stealing my spot in particular, it turns out, was that he thought it was rightfully his.
When I decided to park elsewhere for the night, I stole the spot of someone who I imagine is extremely grumpy and unpleasant. They snitched immediately. Given that my cars rotate weekly, this RDX wasn’t in the building’s database matched to me so they couldn’t contact me to resolve it.
They maintain that I should have contacted them as soon as my spot was occupied. I’ve called after business hours multiple times and it goes to voicemail, so I figured it wasn’t worth bothering.
As for lessons learned, I can’t say this taught me much. I’m still leaving 2-3 cars in the garage at any given point; I don’t have any other option, as they won’t let me buy more spots and I can’t find any standalone garage nearby. Now though, I know not to steal a spot in the covered lot. A common-sense lesson I learned for the low price of $163.21.