Parking woes, second installment

You would think, after my first parking-related stupid tax*, that I’d think twice before parking in a zone with restrictions. You’d think, after having paid the first $45 ticket, that I’d remember for next time not to do that.

Well, apparently not.

In the month leading up to the shindig, I had to pay no less than three – count ’em, three! — stupid taxes, all for parking-related reasons.

The stupid-tax countdown
First, another ticket for parking on that same street. I was coming home late from a class, I’d had an exhausting day, and I couldn’t find parking on my regular street so I parked on another street. Come morning, I remembered and ran out to find another street-sweeping-related ticket on my windshield. Another $45.

Second, a ticket for an expired parking meter. Erik and I dropped by campus one afternoon because I had to pick something up from my mailbox. This was right after my other really stupid incident, when I hurt my toes, so I decided to park at the parking meters on campus instead of in the garage, so I wouldn’t have to walk as far. But since UCLA parking charges an exorbitant 25¢ per 8 minutes, we didn’t have enough quarters between us to pay for more than 32 minutes.

“Okay,” I said, “we just can’t stop and talk to anyone. We have to run in, get the thing, and then run out again.” So then what do I do? I decide it might be nice to stop by my advisor’s office and introduce her to Erik. Nice it was indeed, since we ended up talking for an hour and a half.

So then of course we got a ticket. Another $37 fine for being stupid.

Third, having to pay for a lost parking ticket. After Erik had to go out of town during my time of need, I went to the airport to pick him up. I was exhausted from moving. I drove into the parking garage at Burbank Airport, but misplaced the little ticket that shows what time you came in, which fact we failed to realize until we were in line to pay. Lost tickets pay the full day’s rate. So we paid $60 in spite of having only been parked for less than half an hour.

Latest addition
So, in one month’s time, we paid $142 in fines due to my stupidity alone. All very stupid, all very preventable, all excellent learning experiences. Right?

Apparently not. This morning I experienced a near-total repeat of that first ticket experience. I was lying in bed, trying very hard to convince myself that I could sleep another five minutes, when I suddenly remembered that I’d left the car parked on Hollywood Boulevard. I’d done it two days ago, had all day yesterday to move it, but had completely forgotten. And now I was in even bigger trouble than last time, because if you’re parked on Hollywood during rush hour, you don’t just get ticketed–you get towed.

I threw on whatever clothes were at hand, adding a hoodie because it was raining, and ran out. While I dashed across the courtyard I was thinking, “Please just be a ticket, please just be a ticket,” and at the same time, “I can’t believe I’m hoping for a ticket as the better option.” Then I got to the street and there were no cars parked there, none at all.

I cursed myself all the way back to the apartment. Then I hunted online to find out what to do (whatever did people do before internet, when they needed to get information quickly in a panic?), called the towing place, and set out to get my car.

It had been sprinkling when I first ran out to check if the car was on the boulevard, but by the time I got going to walk to the towing place, it was pouring. Sure, I could have taken the bus, but I wanted to punish myself for being so dumb. So I walked the two miles, in the rain, to the towing place.

No, just kidding. About wanting to punish myself. I did really walk. But the walk did me good. When I set out I was so angry at myself, so upset at having to deal with all this, and so frustrated at not having learned from my past mistakes that any further mishap would have provoked a flood of tears. That’s why I didn’t take the bus — I didn’t want to wait, and I was afraid that if the bus was late or crowded or the driver was rude or anything, I’d just break down then and there. So I chose to walk. By the time I’d gone four blocks my pants were sodden, and when I finally arrived at the towing place, I was drenched from head to toe.

Once I arrived at Hollywood Tow Service, however, I have to say it wasn’t a bad experience at all. If you have to get towed in LA, this must be the place to do it. They were courteous and professional, they didn’t give me any trouble for not being the registered owner of the car (my dad is), and I got my car back fairly quickly without having to wait. I also got to ride around in a golf cart, which was fun in spite of the circumstances. Plus I wasn’t walking in the rain anymore.

But what this amounts to, basically, is another stupid tax, or, if you like, a $244 charge for a ride in a golf cart and a little bit of exercise in the rain. That’s $96 for towing, $30 for storage, $48 for reclaiming the car, $65 for the parking ticket, and the rest for various city taxes.

Maybe this time I’ll learn.

*Stupid tax = That’s what I call it when I have to pay money solely because of my own stupidity.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]