Thursday, December 10, 2009

Charleston Farewell, Maybe

Ignoring the raindrops my captain and I peddled to one of our favorite Charleston restaurants, Basil, for a farewell dinner. It was a tasty Thai meal savored all the more knowing we were prepared to set sail the next day before noon--timing carefully planned to approach St Augustine, FL during daylight and enter the town cut on a rising tide. I remember thinking how it was an unusually relaxing evening despite it being pre-departure night. Then the phone rang. Our 2009 VW Jetta parked in a downtown Newport garage was missing.

Had it been stolen? Or was it towed? No one knew what had happened but it was definitely missing.

We hopped on our bicycles in disbelief and debated what was worse, a stolen car that was surely mistreated or a towed car that has potentially accrued enormous fees? Once back to base we dug out the car paperwork and called the Newport police. The police checked rustled papers and records while we waited… No record of it being recovered by the police… No record of the police towing it… However there is a record of it being towed by RI Towing.

The next call was made to RI Towing who enlightened us. The car had been parked in the wrong spot. Despite having a permit hanging from the rearview mirror for a nearby spot, the car was towed by the rightful owner of the parking space on Nov 21st. Moral of the story; don’t long-term park during the dark of night. (Luckily I was nowhere near the car when it got parked.)

I’d like to say our angst ended then. After all, we got lucky. Someone was kind enough to notice the car missing—just imagine the fees owed if no one noticed before we returned in the spring!—and the $25 per day fee is a fraction of what most towing companies charge. Our restless night was based on learning one of the car title holders was required to appear in-person with paperwork in-hand to reclaim the car. After describing our situation, we were advised to speak with the boss after 9AM the next day in hopes of making alternate arrangements. In the meantime we checked flight options and debated who should go and what to pack.

Awake early and bleary eyed we tried to be optimistic. Surely the towing company would be accommodating and then we could move on feeling grateful. I went about my typical morning and started to make breakfast. That’s when I noticed several cans of soda had frozen and exploded over everything in one of the refrigerators during the night. After several expletives, which always make me feel better, I went about emptying and cleaning the refrigerator. Later my captain joined me at the sink to help with the rinsing of the contents when all of a sudden the faucet spout fell off revealing a tall fountain of water that was streaming everywhere. I was too stunned to react. That’s when my captain took over and lowered the lever to stop the water flow and then made a quick repair to secure the faucet. Normally not superstitious, I was definitely feeling some bad juju.

Eventually it was 9am and thanks to an understanding lady, modern technology and friends, my captain was able to make calls, take photos and email documents that allowed someone else to retrieve the car and us to set sail. Florida here we come…

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