I got off the bus late night as usual, checking my car in the parking lot like I always do before I walk the 10 steps to my door. Only this time, there was no car. My sunshine car was gone. I realized that people who breakdown hearing a bad news (usually on television) show a bad example of enacting the human emotions. When tragedy strikes, you actually feel nothing for the first few minutes. You just feel numb. When I didn’t see my car, I strangely did not panic. But deep down, I had this sinking feeling, as if someone had punched me in the belly, as if someone close to me had died. My legs felt weak. My car was actually stolen, right from my parking lot. My beloved sunshine car was gone.
Very mechanically, I dialed 911. I called the cops. I gave them the details of my car. My roomie who had overheard the conversation came out to see what happened. I think she panicked more than I did. Very calmly, I talked to the cops. Then I called the owner of the car parked where mine was that morning (we are friends). I had to know when she last parked her car at that spot. Having done that, I got my car keys and went to inspect the parking lot. It was freezing already, but I didn’t feel a thing except that heavy feeling in my chest that my car is gone. I walked the dark parking lot and inspected every car. Yes, my sunshine car was gone indeed.
10 minutes later, my friends who had parked her car came hurriedly in a panic. I was confused that while my roomie and my friends were so panic stricken, I did not feel a thing. I just waited for the cops to arrive.
The cops called back in 30 minutes to tell me that my car has been towed. They gave me the name of the towing company, but could not tell me the reason it was towed. It did not make sense. My car was parked in the paid parking lot and had the validation sticker too. There was no way my car should have been towed. However, I felt a rush of relief. At least my car was not stolen. I called the towing company, but no one answered the phone the first few times. When I finally got to talk to someone, they confirmed that my car was indeed with them and I have to pay them $125 as towing charges.
“But may I know why my car was towed in the first place?”
The guy seemed confused. He said he will get in touch with the driver who towed it and call me back. He didn’t call back. And all this while I kept wondering about the possibilities for the towing of my car. Was it because I hadn’t yet paid for the speeding ticket I got in Florida 2 weeks ago? Was it because I hadn’t changed the Washington license plate still (which did not make sense, my car was in the parking lot and it doesn’t matter the old license plate was still there)? Was it because I hadn’t oil changed and I needed to get the antifreeze level checked? All this I was procrastinating to till my final exams for over. But it did not make sense. Surely, they cannot tow my car because I haven’t done some timely maintenance on it. After 30 minutes of waiting, I called the towing guy again to know the reason. This time he just asked me to come pick up my car.
At midnight, my roomie drove me to the towing company’s parking lot. It was in one of those shady downtown areas behind the train tracks. I wondered if in an attempt to get back my car, I was putting myself out there susceptible to any number of dangers. I was greeted by 3 huge men, and don’t underestimate my sense of proportion when I say huge. Huge, bald, fat red necks about six and a half feet each, I realized if they attacked me, there was no way I was returning home alive. They looked more intimidating that they might have actually been it seems, for when I reached them, one of them smiled a foolish (boka boka in Bengali) smile and told me,
“Sorry, it was a mistake.”
I didn’t think I heard right. A mistake? You mistakenly towed my car? Your mistake made me think my car was stolen. It was due to your mistake that I was in this shady place in the middle of a freezing night.
“Are you sure? How do I know my car will not be towed again?”
“Oh it will not be. Please sign and leave your number. We will call you if it really needs to be towed again. And no need to pay the towing charges.”
So I hopped on to my car and drove back well past midnight.
I felt a mixture of emotions. Confusion, why was my car towed by mistake? Loss, that I thought my car was stolen. Relief, that it was actually towed and not stolen. How do you tow someone’s car by mistake, without any grounds? I guess I don’t have to know now. Sunshine car is back, and that is all that matters. But for one realization I had. I think my car means a lot more to me than I thought it did. It’s a vital part of my life now, like a family member. I think I’d be very miserable without my sunshine car any day. And I cannot wait for summer next year when I can start going places with my sunshine car again J