March 16th, 2004

public transit

Dude, Where's My Car?

Tonight we had yet another young person come anxiously to our door, asking, "Dude! Where's my car?" ... well, not exactly in those words, but that's the gist of it. See, our house is quite near the UCB campus, and so parking is extremely difficult. Hence, the residential neighborhoods all have permit parking, which requires you to have a little permit sticker on the window of your car to say it's okay for you to park there.

Of course, the people who get towed in front of our house don't seem to be people without permits parking during permit-required times. Instead, they seem to be people who block driveways. And, apparently, we have a neighbor who really doesn't like his/her driveway to be blocked.

The first time we had some poor soul come to our door because a car had gone missing, it was two young black guys who seemed absolutely convinced that we had been the ones to call the police to get their car towed. I tried to explain that we don't even have a car, and therefore could care less who parks where, and that anyway the driveway in question belongs to the building next door rather than us, but they didn't seem to believe me. It was my own damned fault for answering the doorbell at night, anyway, and then trying to help them find their car. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.

See, I'm a sucker. If the doorbell rings at night, I will quite often (though not always) go to check who it is, whereas Shannon will callously sit there on the couch, saying, "I'm not expecting anyone. So if it's anyone I know, I'd ask them what the hell they're doing here."

And we say that I'm the anti-social one. Sheesh.

Anyway, tonight's contestant on the "Dude Where's My Car?" show was a tiny little Asian girl. She came to the door and asked me, "Did you see a car right there?" and she gestured at the curb in front of our house. I replied, "No, I'm sorry, I didn't. But I did hear a tow-truck out here about 10 or 15 minutes ago." (It was easy to remember, because I had commented on all the flashing lights and said, "Geez! What's going on out there?") This announcement caused a flurry of anxiety and despair, and the arrival of a few more young Asian girls. The original girl (probably the car's owner) kept exclaiming, "Towed? Tow?" English wasn't her first language, but I got the impression that it was the concept that was giving her difficulty, more than the word. Her car was GONE?

Shannon and I ended up spending several minutes with these very nice and rather hysterical (well, one of them, anyway) girls at the doorway (never invite strangers into your home, boys and girls, even if they have had their car towed, especially if they have had their car towed and think it's your fault), giving them phone numbers for the towing company and etc. The poor kid didn't know her license plate number, so she just kept repeating the street where she'd last seen the car, and a general description. She didn't seem to be having a lot of luck, and kept being given different phone numbers to call, each of which again directed her somewhere else.

Eventually, the girl's friends decided that we had apparently given all the help we were going to provide, and so sort of dragged her away, still shouting the name of our street into her cell phone.

Poor kid. I hope she found her car. She seemed really concerned that this would "go on her record" or something, too. Poor kid. She could probably use some klonopin.

The moral to this story? Don't park blocking people's driveways.

Another moral to this story? Don't answer the doorbell unless you're willing to get involved in someone else's problems.

Yet another moral to this story? Don't ring our doorbell if Shannon is the only one home, unless you work for UPS and he's expecting you.

And even yet another moral to this story? Memorize your license plate number, ya morons.

And the final and most important moral to this story? I'm so glad we don't have a car.