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.