Karma Gods, What Did I Ever Do to You?

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Italy left me exhausted and unable to sleep, so the first couple days after I got back, I was someone you didn’t want to be around. In fact, I didn’t leave the house until 7pm the first two nights—the first, to go to a scrumptious dinner at Local with South Africa winemaker Kevin Grant and two lovely ladies in the wine industry. (This whole West Coast wine culture is totally new to me, and I still may not be able to tell you about tannins and distinguish whether or not something has an “oak-y” quality, but man, was that Ataraxia wine delicious.) The next night, Moose invited me over for homemade chocolate brownies and freelancing in her adorable new home. I didn’t stay too long, as I was a very rude guest with my yawning every five minutes. But when I went to retrieve my car, it was gone. Just like that. Vanished without a trace. No note saying, “Kristin, I went to the corner market to pick up a few 40s; back in a jiffy. xo, Your Car.” No sign that it had even been there. I was perplexed to put it mildly.

Now, if you live in San Francisco, have lived here in the past, have ever rented a vehicle in this parking-forsaken city, you know that finding a spot to leave your car is about as painful as having each fingernail removed by a pair of pliers. I actually have friends who turn down social invites if they have a really sweet parking spot for fear of losing it. It’s downright impossible to park in certain neighborhoods and times of the day. A Tuesday night in Hayes Valley was no different. After circling the area for a good 20 minutes, looking for a smidgen of space or even a pay lot, I was at a loss for what to do. There are plenty of spots between houses that would fit a Smart Car (why did I invest in an Altima? I’m now only slightly regretting my decision), but are a foot or two too short for a normal car. However, as a San Franciscan, you learn to improvise, so I parked in one of these spots, with the butt of my car hanging over a foot or so. There were garages on both sides, but I took great care to make sure I gave the residents of Page Street plenty of room to come and go as they pleased. My first ticket as a California resident was given to me in this very area, but I figured after dusk on a weeknight, I’d be fine.

So when I came back to find my car missing, I was convinced someone stole it. (Now I know this isn’t really possible, as my car has keyless start, meaning you have to have the computerized chip in your pocket in order to turn it on, but nonetheless, I wasn’t thinking rationally at the time.) I called SVV panicked, and always the calm one that he is, he tried to tell me I had just misplaced it. Then, I started going crazy. I walked the span of Page for 10 blocks—each way—five times or more. It was freezing out, and I was in capris and flip-flops. My hands were blocks of ice. The streets were deserted, save a bum or two here and there, and I was convinced someone was lurking around the corner, waiting to jump me, at all times. But the shiny, slate Altima, she was nowhere to be found. Another thing that gets me about SF is that rarely are the streets properly marked. When I parked, there were no street signs on either side of my car, so I just had to remember based on landmarks. I was 99 percent positive I knew where I had left her, but an old white clunker was in her place, so that left me even more confused. I shamefully rang Moose’s door again, the tears beginning to stream down my face, when SVV called and said, yup, someone had called in my car, and the Tow Truck Wankers had taken her in to the lot at 7th and Harrison.

Moose kindly drove me there, after many trips circling Sketchville trying to find the entrance to the lot, and I was prepared to flirt my way out of the ticket—or at least get it significantly reduced (hey, it’s happened in all but one occurrence, the one time I actually got a speeding ticket in Alabama in 2005). But for the second time that day, Karma laughed in my face and gave me a tight-lipped female. I joked and asked, “well, don’t I get a discount at least for being so speedy in retrieving her?” Crickets. On top of that, after I paid the whopping $250 charge, I got in my car to find a $75 parking ticket awaiting me on my dash. Awesome. Love you, too, Karma. Don’t be expecting a Hallmark card on your next birthday.

(Since that white car was illegally parked in the place of mine, SVV and I concluded the inhabitants of that building must have called in my car because I took their usual street parking space. Scott said I should have then called in that car as retaliation, assuming it was the vehicle of the Jerkhead that phoned in mine. I thought that was too mean, given the small unlikelihood the owner of the car was just passing through — I wouldn’t want any kind, unsuspecting, innocent soul to suffer the same scenario. However, next time I’m chilling in Hayes Valley, and the same car is still parked there, I’ll know it’s Jerkhead’s and revenge will be mine. Take that, Karma. Cue evil laughter: mwahahahahaha.)

COMMENTS
  • May 29, 2008
    Katrin

    Oh no! What a bunch of bad lucks… Makes me feel good that I don’t have a car. Sorry. 🙂

  • May 29, 2008
    pinksundrops

    Yuck! I remember the parking situation there when we met Cecilia and Courtney for coffee. Took a half hour before we parked in a shading parking garage. I’m sorry all that happened! I’d beat them up for you if I could. That’s so frustrating!!

  • May 29, 2008
    The Running Bob

    $325 in towing and tickets, ouch! I’m shedding a tear for you and your bank account as well.

  • May 29, 2008
    Kristin

    I think it is kind of rude that someone called in your car. If your car is out of the way, what does it matter? It seems there must be people in SF that are paid to drive around and find people who are breaking parking laws/rules. Maybe your luck will change. They always say things happen in 3’s, so maybe the towing and ticket were No. 2 & 3 and the duvet temporarily stolen was the first thing 🙂

  • May 29, 2008
    Brown Eyed Girl

    Oh my dear, sweet fellow San Franciscan,

    I feel your anger and confusion, but you’ve finally been initiated into San Francisco – -jumped into our gang, if you will. It hurts a lot and your left with some (bank account) bruises, but you come out stronger and, dare I say, a little more badass.

    I remember the first (and only time thus far – knock on wood) it happened to me. I had taken my first vacation day at my new job on a Friday to give myself an extra long weekend to go camping up at Point Reyes with my (ten new) beau, Cute Boy, and his friends. So the Thursday night before, I came over to Cute Boy’s neighborhood (the Tender Nob) to pack up my car with camping gear. Being how newly-infatuated I was, I ended up spending the night at his house, but I figured my lil Altima was fine as I had to wake up super early to drive a friend to the Auto Shop to pick up her own car.

    I woke up around 6:30 Friday morning, gave Cute Boy a soft peck on the cheek so as not to wake him, and left to walk to my car…I walked at least 8 blocks past where I KNEW I had left my car, thinking that maybe – MAYBE! – I had parked it farther than I remembered. Nope, it was gone (as was every other car on the left side of the street). Apparently, you can’t be parked there from 6 to 9 AM EVER.

    Cute Boy’s little brother rode his motorcycle down to check and see if my car was in the “towed” lot (as opposed to being stolen along with all of the other cars on the left side of the street) – and of course she was. I was so sad and it totally ruined the beginning of my camping trip as 300+ dollars that were supposed to be spent on boxes of Macaroni and Cheese, graham crackers, marshamallows and Hershey’s chocolate were now going down the drain.

    So the point of my long-winded comment? I feel your pain.

    And I love your blog so much, that you were long overdue for a comment from me 🙂

  • May 29, 2008
    Ali

    a possible plus to living in the suburbs? i always have a place to park my car? sadly, when i drive downtown i start getting the sweats that i will have to find a parking spot..and i don’t even know how to read all the 500 parking signs…i’m hopeless..

  • May 29, 2008
    Angela

    Aw man. BUMMER. But at least you know now not to park that way again. But ouch. How mean. I’m sure you left enough room for the owners of the houses to use their garages…

  • May 29, 2008
    Camels & Chocolate

    Thanks for all your laments, everyone! Somehow blogging about it and hearing your similar stories makes it just the slightest bit less painful =)

  • May 29, 2008
    Camels & Chocolate

    Thanks for all your laments, everyone! Somehow blogging about it and hearing your similar stories makes it just the slightest bit less painful =)

  • May 29, 2008
    Camels & Chocolate

    Thanks for all your laments, everyone! Somehow blogging about it and hearing your similar stories makes it just the slightest bit less painful =)

  • May 29, 2008
    jvanvelsor

    Owie! that hurts! Especially the $$ but the time and anxiety spent worrying about what happened isn’t trivial either. I ‘m not sure what to do to propitiate the SF parking gods, perhaps a quarter in someone elses’s meter? Remember we have lots and lots of free parking here in Sacramento, and if you and Scott lived in town you could participate in ALL the family activities. And, Sacramento is an international airport!

  • May 29, 2008
    Nothing But Bonfires

    Oh honey, you’re now an official San Franciscan! I know that lot at 7th and Harrison well. Sean and I had our car towed there probably three weeks after we’d moved into our new place. There’s NOTHING worse than picking up the phone and having the person on the other end of it say nervously “um, hi…uh, our car is gone.”

    Glad you got her back! The $325 is just your initiation fee into San Francisco. You’re done now.

    (PS: We wouldn’t TURN DOWN a social invitation, per se. We’d probably just take the bus. Well, depending on how much we liked the person extending the invitation, of course.)

  • May 29, 2008
    Dagny

    Last summer I had to drive a friend to the lot in San Francisco. When she told me where she had parked, I laughed hysterically. “But you can’t park there at that time of day. Everyone knows that.” When she told me that it would be about $200 to get her car out, I asked, “But how much is the ticket?” She was floored to learn that she would also have to pay for a ticket as well.

    Not that things parking-wise are much better for me these days in North Berkeley. Some nights it takes me 30 minutes to find a parking space. The only joy is that there are certain driveways here that I can park across without receiving a ticket or being towed. Many non-locals don’t realize this and so I have seen them pass up these spaces.

  • May 30, 2008
    Moose

    Tow Truck Wankers – ha! We should paint a new cardboard sign for them and tape it to the building in the dead of night.

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