30 MINUTE PARKING
STRICTLY ENFORCED – 24 HOURS
VIOLATORS WILL BE TOWED
I’d be 20-minutes. Tops. I parked the Chevy in the heavily wooded narrow street and dashed into the lobby and up three flights of stairs into my son’s new apartment. After helping him navigate a couple of medical insurance forms, I was back on the street. No car. Gone. After less than 20 minutes, my car had vanished. A closer look at the sign revealed the following fine print:
PARKING FOR RETAIL STORES ONLY
TOWING BY SISK
Sons of bitches made it so that if you were unfamiliar with the area and not standing within a few feet of the sign you’d miss it. The asshole’s voice on the other end of the phone informed me that $200; cash only, had to be paid. He asked me the sign’s location, gave me his address and said, “You’ll find it.” Before hanging up, Mr. Customer Service Award Winner of the Year added, “$75 a day storage for every day the car sits here.”
ATM machine. Cab ride. I’m standing behind a woman at Sisk’s Garage. The lot is full of cars, from a beat up old AMC Gremlin to a showroom-new Tesla. The woman shells out crisp bills that were no doubt neatly stacked in a nearby ATM machine moments before. By the amount she counted out, it appeared as though she had taken advantage of the “Sisk Extra Special $75 / Day Storage Fee.” A worn King James Bible sat on the counter. It was opened to Matthew 7:12. A “Jesus Saves” sign hung on the wall behind T. Sisk. That was the name stitched on the oval patch of the guy’s oil stained blue shirt. A partially eaten hamburger rested near his grease shined fingers.
“I just want you to know, sir, that my daughter’s inhaler was in my car when you towed it and she suffered a near fatal asthma attack. If a good Samaritan hadn’t come by and seen her gasping for air….I’m just so upset by this. You really should make the sign more clear,” she finished and blotted tears with a tissue.
T. Sisk didn’t bother looking up. He took a bite from the burger, rubberstamped “PAID” on a hand-written receipt and said, “Shudda read the sign. Next!”
I stepped toward the counter. “That’s some racket you got going on here. That poor woman is right. The fine print on that sign is impossible to read. I can’t imagine how many cars must get towed here day and night.”
T. Sisk jammed four normal bites worth of hamburger and bun into his mouth. He barely chewed and then swallowed. “Make and model car,” he responded. He looked at his watch. It had a cracked crystal. The slob could afford a new Rolex. I bit my tongue, paid and turned for the door. The fellow’s expression on line behind me looked as if he had just swallowed a bottle of colonoscopy prep liquid. He dug into his pocket. I didn’t hang around to hear his tale.
A week later under a moonless sky, I hammered a stick into the ground at the entrance of the narrow street and affixed the following sign:
GRIZZLY BEAR ACTIVITY
I added some fine, very fine print:
DOUBLE SPRING-JAW BEAR TRAPS IN ROAD
I illegally parked the Chevy and bee lined it into the apartment lobby. The wait was a short one. I had the perfect vantage point when minutes later I watched the tow truck’s two front tires blowout.
“Jesus still loves you, T. Sisk,” I said to no one.