Saturday, May 23, 2009

Welcome To Chicago! Now Get The Hell Out!

Last night I’m cruising down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago on my way to pick my son up from school to bring him home for holiday weekend. It’s about a three hour journey from my garage to his apartment on Diversey Parkway, so when I finally arrive what do you think is the first thing I need to do? Yep! You guessed it! I NEED TO PEE! Then, I get a list of supplies he needs for his apartment: toilet paper, contact solution, toothpaste, and whatever else his little heart desires, and bop over to the Walgreen’s across the street from his apartment. This is a ritual I have conducted for the past three years while he has been in school there. Parking is a pain in Chicago! You need to feed the meter every hour and even if you feed the meter, you will often get a parking ticket stating you were parked in the same spot too long. Since my son has lived in Chicago I have had at least three parking tickets to the tune of fifty dollars each, but last night was my first experience with having my car towed.

I was not inside his apartment more than five minutes when I looked out his window at the Walgreen’s parking lot to see that my car is GONE! I can’t believe it. I left my purse, camera, cell phone, check book and all my credit cards in that car because I was coming right back down to go shopping and didn’t want to haul it all up 3 flights of stairs. In utter disbelief, I run down to the parking lot hoping and praying my car was simply veiled in another dimension. I could not have been more wrong. I am in shock! My son calls the number off of one of the signs posted in the lot and find out Lincoln Towing Service has my car. They will be glad to return it to me when I arrive at their office five miles away with $170, a driver’s license and proof of insurance. I grab his cell phone and go off at the thief on the other end of the line asking him if this is how Chicago welcomes people to their fine city. He didn’t give a shit. He had me by my balls (if I had balls) and he knew it. I waltz my ass into Walgreen’s and find the manager, who informed me it was a private parking lot and they have nothing to do with it, but the “spotter” sits in a Chevy Impala right outside the door.

I return to the parking lot and spy the car immediately parked in the space closest to the store. Where are the disabled people supposed to park if Lincoln Towing has their thugs sitting in those spaces? I march up to the driver who makes me wait while he gets off his cell phone. He, then, informs me the minute I left the premises of the parking lot, I was illegal. If I had chosen to pee inside Walgreen’s I would not have had my car towed. Dear God, I am not making this stuff up!

Thankfully, my son had a debit card so he could get the cash to pay a taxi to take us to the Lincoln Towing garage. Our taxi driver was the best thing that happened to us that night. I immediately noticed his accent was West African so, we talked about President Obama’s trip to Ghana coming up in July, as well as my daughter’s two years in Togo. He was also very informed about Lincoln Towing’s thievery and their reputation. He explained how the clerks who collect the money sit behind bulletproof glass because they are the most hated people in the city and he was right! We pull up to their fine establishment and the first thing I see is a line of people waiting to pay to have their cars returned to them. I head to my car to retrieve my purse and make sure everything I left in my car hadn’t been stolen. The clerk begins banging on the bulletproof glass for me to come back, but I ignore him. I didn’t care if he did call the police. In fact, I was hoping he would. Call the Chicago Tribune for all I care! Get this entire incident in the papers! Then explain to me how in the hell Chicago expects to host the Olympics when people can’t even pee in their city without having their cars towed.

When I finally arrived home at two in the morning, I began Googling Lincoln Towing. I found page after page of gripes about this company, who apparently operates like the friggin’ mob and has gotten by with it for 40 years.

Dear Walgreens at the corner of Diversey and Halsted, I will never honor your establishment again.

Dear Mayor Daley, screw you for making it impossible to find decent parking in your city and for now charging $1 an hour for parking by the lake that was free for years. Your city can’t handle the Olympics !!

The best thing I found when I Googled Lincoln Towing was this song written by Steve Goodman which explains perfectly the parasite practices of this wretched company.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet!

My phone rang last night around 10:30 PM. I knew it had to be one of the kids. I tried calling my daughter about an hour earlier but didn’t get an answer. On the other end of the line was my daughter’s frantic voice, “MOM! We just had an earthquake!”

Oh dear, my imagination took off in a devastating direction. Are you ok? Is David ok? Yes, and yes. After getting all of the logistics out of the way, (it was a 5.0, they were nearly at the epicenter, it originated 8.4 miles below the earth’s surface, people were frantically running out of their apartment building and into the courtyard) my daughter finally got to the good stuff.

She was in the shower stark naked with shampoo on her hair when she heard the rumbling noise of the earth cracking all around her and then she felt the trembling of her entire apartment building. She screamed. Petrified, she kept screaming and jumped out of the shower. David, her husband, who was sitting quietly in the living room, heard her screams and here is where it starts to get funny. He also hears a rumbling noise, but being from the Midwest and having spent a good deal of his life around the Chicago area, he doesn’t put two and two together to come up with an earthquake. He hears his wife screaming and hears the rumbling noise and is sure an intruder is running up the staircase to get them. With his eyes on the front door of their apartment, he readies himself in fight mode.
My daughter tells me she wrapped herself up in a towel, hair still sudsy and made her way out to their living room. There, she sees her husband, feet spread in a fighting stance and arms spread wide waiting for whoever he thinks is out there to come crashing through their door. By this time, of course, she has finally stopped screaming and is now laughing hysterically at the sight of her husband ready to protect her. He spies her staring at him in laughter and realizes his mistake, “I heard you screaming and I didn’t want anyone to hurt you, Paige.”

I love this man! I love that his first thought was to protect my daughter. I love the picture in my mind’s eye of him ready to take on the world for her. I know he could do it too. This is a man who exercises his fingers (I kid you not!). This is a man who built a rock climbing apparatus in his dorm room at the University of Illinois. This is a man whose abs gave me pause the first time I hugged him when he was dating my daughter. Brains and brawn! Thank you, David, for loving my little girl!