My dad’s first rideshare

“Maybe stand over there,” I said, pointing at the balcony that overlooked the lobby of city hall. “We need more candid-looking photos.”

My sister and her fiance looked over the railing. I pressed the shutter button. *Click* *Click*

Then I heard a familiar voice come up behind me. “My car got towed,” my dad said. “I need your help. It’s at Mcallister and Market.”

I gave the camera to my sister and told them that we’ll have to meet them at the restaurant. I started walking down the stairs and started asking questions. Is that an intersection? Is that where all city government towed vehicles go? What would get your car towed? Aren’t we usually very careful about parking in the city? How was that possible?

My dad explained that he called the number posted on the sign. He didn’t know why the car was towed. I listened to it and got lost in the complicated numbers. Then he asked the security.

“I don’t think that there’s a garage at McAllister and Market,” I said. “I know where the impound lot is.”

How can anybody not miss the snazzy Autoreturn lot across from the Hall of Justice off of Bryant. Not only did it have a well-designed logo that suggested that the service of getting towed was swift and happy, but it suggested that people got their cars in a happy fashion.

I pondered asking Chris to drive us there, but time was not on our side. And unfortunately Lyft was not on my windows phone so I called an Uber. With calmness, I led my dad to the car and I accepted the surge charge. My dad never had experienced a rideshare and slipped into the front seat. I chatted briefly with the driver who expressed sympathy at the situation. And we arrived at the building. Bulletproof glass greeted us. It separated the common folk and the workers. Nobody else was there beyond the employees. My dad rushed to the open window, explaining his plight—he was there to see his daughter get married and he didn’t see any signs that would suggest that a car was towed. “There’s nothing you can do,” I whispered. “I learned this from a friend. You can’t plea here. You can only plea in court. The best thing to do is pay the fees and get out of here. You might be able to get the fees reversed later.”

And so the fees were paid and a man handed us a slip through the bars to get the car. Everything was in perfect condition, a newly purchased car that my dad proudly chose a month prior sat among other law breaking cars. A ticket sat underneath the windshield blades. “I can’t believe it!” he exclaimed.

“Maybe you can argue in court,” I said. “That’s the best thing you can do. But the best thing right now is to return to where you parked and determine if there was a mistake in the ticketing.”

with guidance from Waze, we returned to the scene…of the tow. I stood in middle of the former parking spot, examining all angles. The sign at the front, the sign at the back, the meter. But there was nothing. I waved my hands in defeat. From every angle, the sign clearly stated no parking between 3 and 7 pm. The anti-gridlock laws of San Francisco. “I didn’t know,” my dad repeated. “We got here before 3 pm and we have a handicapped sign because your grandmother came with us. I didn’t know that we couldn’t park there.”

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