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no-parkingThe sign pictured here was not present at today’s events. If it had been, today’s events would not have occurred. Just saying.

It began so well. I drove to Greenville to have lunch with friends. For 3.5 hrs, we were that table — you know, the one with shrieking bursts of unruly laughter, with lots of people all talking at once and yelling stories from one end of the table to the other. It was great fun for us… maybe not so much for the people around us.

Fun, that is, until I stepped back outside into the 98-degree Carolina heat and discovered that my car was gone. G.O.N.E. I just stood there and stared at my empty parking space, forlornly holding my take-out box. Called Bobby, and told him that I thought our car had been towed.* Calmly, because Bobby’s good like that, he told me to track down the car, and he would come pick me up.

*Edit: Why did I get towed? Excellent question… it was one that I asked myself several times during this episode. Answer — Because I didn’t pay before I parked. I thought I could pay after, as I was leaving the lot. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Of course, the signs didn’t make this crucial detail clear, but whatever. Grrrrrr.

So off I go with my take-out box, trekking around the perimeter of the very large parking lot. South Carolina in June is like the 10th circle of hell. Rivulets of sweat are running down my legs, my back, my stomach. Dis. Gusting. Even my elbows are sweating. Supposedly, southern girls “glisten” (you know, because sweating just isn’t ladylike). Yeah, I passed “glisten” and headed straight to “drenched” in 2 minutes flat.  Finally find the parking lot info up next to the street with the phone number to the towing company. Call it, and the guy is just plain mean, which seems like overkill to me. Dude, you took my f-ing car and left me wandering around a 148-degree parking lot. Spare me the attitude. Ass-munch.

Then Bobby calls and tells me that he still hasn’t left the office to pick me up because his car won’t start. Seriously?!?  He calls his mom, who happens to be working at the local hospital ER, and she offers to come rescue me. She picks me up off the curb, and off we go to the towing company. Deeper and deeper into the sketchy part of town, until the road is one lane and there are grungy, barefoot children and women wearing bathrobes sitting on the sofas in their front yards staring at us as we drive by. MIL mentions that this neighborhood is where most of her ER patients live…

Pull into the tow yard, where we’re greeted by a toothless old man who — SURPRISE!! — is a frequent flier at MIL’s ER. He grins a big, gummy grin and proudly says “I’m not drinking nearly as much anymore.” He smells like he might have been sneaking a nip right before we pulled up. We knock on the door of a tiny metal building with hot pink air-brushing on the side, and a young guy opens it, releasing a blinding cloud of cigarette smoke. Flapping his arms to clear the air, he invites us in. Because MIL knows toothless man, young guy gives us a discount on the towing bill — instead of $80, he only charges me $75.  Yeah, overwhelming generosity there, buddy.

Annnnd he doesn’t take debit cards. This is a cash-only establishment, which means that my measly $22 just ain’t gonna cut it. So my kind and patient MIL pays the $75 bill. Then she walks me to my car, asks me if I have enough gas to get home (one would think that I could take care of this sort of basic function, but based on the last hour, I guess she had good reason for being doubtful), and tells me to lock my doors and follow her back to the main road.

Good times, people. Good times.

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