Friday, September 26, 2014

Details, Details, Details!

I am constantly telling my Personal Care Attendants (PCA's) it is all about the details! Last Friday the details came back to bite me in the butt to the tune of one hundred seventy dollars! One hundred thirty-eight for a tow to the Minneapolis Impound Lot and thirty-two for a parking ticket!

I was on my way to an elpisenterprises board meeting on the twenty-third floor of 150 South Fifth Street, in downtown Minneapolis. Since I cannot park in parking lots if I am alone because I cannot pull the tabs out of the dispensers, I pulled in to the last meter on the corner of Fourth Street and Marquette. I did not bother to look up and see the sign that read, "No Parking 4 to 6 PM." That was a big mistake! With my handicap plates, I am able to park at a meter for up to four hours. I knew I would not be in the meeting that long, so I decided to park there.

I left the meeting a little after 4:30 only to watch the tow truck pull away with my van a block and a half ahead of me. I had this sickening feeling I was going to have a very difficult time getting home.

I knew that tow truck was taking my van to the impound lot, so I took off across downtown Minneapolis during rush hour and people walking to the Twins game.

My chair has six speed settings and C is the fastest. You have heard people talk about multiple-choice tests and questionnaires, and they will tell you to, "Always answer C." That is the way my power wheelchair is. I clicked on C and took off the 1.4 miles to the impound lot. I cannot tell you how many times I told people as I was approaching them, "Passing on your left." I always do that so people do not get scared when I go speeding past them. It is also fun to watch oncoming pedestrians as they oftentimes do not know what to do as they approach me.

I asked a couple people who were waiting at bus stops if they knew if the bus stopped at Glenwood by the impound lot? One man told me, "That's a long ways. You can't get there in a wheelchair." He was not sure which bus I would take; he just knew I could not get there in a wheelchair.Obviously, he did not know my wheelchair!

Once I got on the bridge going over the freeway, I knew I was home free. I saw a gentleman in an SUV that was marked City of Minneapolis Protective Services. I managed to flag him down and he was very helpful. He got on his walkie-talkie right away and asked someone about the impound lot and their hours. He told me they were open until 11 PM. That eased my mind considerably as I knew I would not have to hurry and get there by 5 PM.

I only had a few blocks to go and as I was turning off Aldrich Avenue, I saw the tow truck right in front of me. He was turning to go down Colfax and enter the impound lot. I got a charge out of that! I almost beat the tow truck who was towing my van to the impound lot!

I did catch up as he was entering the lockdown area. I asked the woman in the booth if she would ask him to park the van somewhere where I could get in the passenger side door so I could get in my ramp. She was less than cordial and I am sure not in a good mood because of the angry clientele she deals with all day long. If you have ever been to an impound lot you know they can be places you do not want to spend any time! 

I was pleasantly surprised when I went inside to settle up with the towing fee to get my van back. There was only one woman in the waiting area with me! I could not believe there was nobody in there. The only problem was I could not get the door open! I believe  that is in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I approached the first window and started to talk to the man on the other side that was also not wearing a smile. 

He told me what I needed to get my van and when he asked for my ID which I cannot get out of my wallet. My wallet would not fit under the window and he was not willing to come around and help me get my ID and a credit card.

Fortunately, my new friend, Allison, who was there to get her car because it had been towed after she had a little too much to drink the night before. I love to start conversations with complete strangers and get their stories. She was more than willing to tell me her story.

Allison took my ID and slid it under the window. After a quick check of finding I had no outstanding warrants, the nice man behind the window passed my ID back for Allison. Then she gave him a credit card and helped me through the entire process.

The nice man behind the window told me to go over and wait by that door and another nice person would come and take me to my van. I did as he instructed.

When I was waiting at the door a woman drove up in another nice SUV and told me she would take me to my van. I told her, "No you won't, because I cannot get in your vehicle. If I could, what will we do with my wheelchair?"

She agreed and told me to just follow her through the lot. My van was parked in the far lot and she told me to take these papers and give them to the first nice lady at the exit to the lot. 

I told her I would not be able to pass them to the first nice lady, and asked her if she would please go ahead of me and pass the papers through to my first new friend. She was more than willing to help me. She was very nice and very helpful.

We got back up to the first nice lady to check out and my new friend handed her my papers. Then she took off! She left me alone with the first nice lady and I knew I was in trouble as she wanted to hand back my papers. I told her I could not reach them and asked her if she would put them on my passenger seat?

She would not get out of her booth, so she threw the papers through my window and fortunately landed on the seat. I did not look back at her and did not say thank you. I guess I was being rude. That was not nice of me. In my defense, I was in no mood to extend any courtesy to the impound lot employees. I was just glad to be out of there and have my little urban orienteering adventure finally over.

The bottom line is, "Pay attention to the details!"

As always, I look forward to your comments.




Barb said...

My goodness - I was out of breath just reading that story! I'm glad it all turned out OK.

Colleen said...

Mike, look at it this way; you were given material for your blog. I must say it was a wee bit expensive though! Oh well, there is always another one hopefully free of charge!

Ed said...

You'll be glad to hear that we all get treated alike at the impound lot, like squished dog poop. I haven't been there in 30 years but it sounded like we dealt with the same people. It might have been children of the original employees. I remember I went into the place thinking I would be "very polite" no matter what happened, just because they probably see enough angry folks everyday. Needless to say it didn't work out the way I expected, I left muttering four letter words wishing I had a tank... An expensive lesson, don't get towed.
Take care Mike and thanks for the memories,

Jean said...

Love the 'nice ladies' and Allison! Great story, Mike!

Diane said...

Mike, you have a way with words, as you already know! I loved your "story" although I'm sure it was not amusing at the time. How can people be so rude! It was funny reading it, but also frustrating when I think of your situation! Thanks for sharing!


Mary said...

OMG, Mike what an exercise for you in how to keep your cool. As the old cliche' muses, "When all else fails, PUNT." You certainly did that last Friday. I laughed, was angry at the impound lot employees - such dorks - and was amused at you and your techniques to get what YOU wanted. Good job. Sometimes, we just do what we gotta do. Figuratively speaking, sometimes we just bend over and take it, don't we? Been there, done that.

Lynn Jeppeson said...

What a story - I hope you don't have too many days that are this trying.

Daniel Shipp said...

Nice blog Mike, it reminds me that some people just seem to have a strong desire to try to ruin everyone's day, every day.

Ms Sparrow said...

Surely those bad-tempered public employees could have cut you a little slack under the circumstances! The fact that you couldn't open their door or use the transfer slot speaks to how lax their compliance with the ADA is. I think you might do well to forward the details of your experience to one of the columnists at the Strib.
Jon Tevlin often covers issues like that. I must say that you handled a frustrating situation with much dignity and grace!

Paul said...

Wow! What an ordeal. I am glad you prevailed. Once again, you amaze me.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I was appalled at how you were treated by the City of Minneapolis Employees. So much so, that on Sat. AM after reading your blog I called the city and filed a complaint. No one should be treated the way you were. And to not have any sense of courtesy or professionalism on their part. The customer service agent asked if I wanted my complained escalated all the way to the Mayor's office! I said YES. You'll probably be getting a call from someone from the city of Minneapolis. I told the woman you were model citizen and no one should be treated the way you were treated. Turns out her boyfriend is an amputee and had a very good understanding of the situation! I hope the city reaches out to you and I hope you leverage this into an opportunity to do some sensitivity training. Those impound lot people need plenty of it! Let me know what happens. I'll always be your advocate. Phyllis