Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Playing Footsie With Tow Trucks In St. Paul


St. Paul wants to tow me. Bad.

But I am still one step ahead of them.

A couple days ago, a police officer chalked the tires on my car where it was parked in front of my apartment. My landlord's brother was on the porch, having a smoke as they work on fixing stuff around the duplex, and for a moment he thought the officer was chalking HIS tires, since our cars look so much alike. He has actually stuck the key in the door of my car before and--I confessed to him today--vice versa.

So Landlord's Brother Whose Name I Can't Remember said to the officer, "Hey, why are you chalking the tires? That thing moves all the time. Sometimes it's parked over there (points down the block) sometimes up there (points up the block) but it does move."

The officer shrugged and said, "I have to make sure."

My landlord Doug was nice enough to call me and warn me to move my car. Gee, what a concept. CALLING the person and warning them to move their car or get towed. So why can't cities do something like that?

Off-street parking...or mud wrestling?

Doug urged me to use the off-street parking behind the house, but I told him I would just move it down the block. The other tenants use the off-street parking, and I didn't want to interact with them in regard to my 1988 Celebrity, (the "Vernie Mobile") which is truly a piece of crap, but through such economizing as driving a $200 vehicle I've saved enough to buy a house in North Minneapolis this month.

So I said I'd move the car down the block. And Doug seemed a little miffed that I refused his hospitality, his offer to allow my car in the muddy back yard, and warned me the tow trucks would get me, sooner or later, with the kind of tone he uses when demanding I secure the deadbolt or violent hooligans would bust inside and go "Clockwork Orange" on me with "a bit of the old ultra-violence."

I parked down the block. I wiped the tire marks off with a hunk of snow. And while researching the last blog entry, I discovered--good grief--I'm signed up for the email snow emergency alerts from St. Paul, but I was NOT signed up for the phone alerts. Here is the St. Paul website:

Now go figure. Since I'm signed up for the email alerts, why didn't they send an email asking, "Hey, would you also like to get PHONE ALERTS?"

Like Blondie said: CALL ME!

On the bright side, spring is making headway against Minnesota winter, and though I heard we might get hit hard with snow one more time, we are nearly out of the very worst part of the towing season.

But if we have one more snow emergency before it is all over, I will find out if those phone alerts actually reach my phone. I have serious doubts. When U of M set up a text message alert system for the all-too-frequent bomb scares, it was subsequently discovered to have serious issues. In short, not everybody was being alerted. Here is the link to that story, and a fine job as usual by the Minnesota Daily.

Text U Service Doesn't Alert All

But, really, if they can alert the whole city about a snow emergency, why can't individuals be told before their car gets towed? And as a sensible interim measure, I really have to endorse the idea of a website where I could find my car if it gets towed.

In the so many other citizens of St. Paul, I am "playing footsie" with the tow trucks. When I move to North Minneapolis, it will be footsie time up there.

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