Great Moments in Towing: “Long Night’s Journey into Night,” 1987


The irony of most my-car-just-got-towed situations, which require clear thinking and practicality, is that most times you encounter them when half in the bag. My friend Rose and I were considerably more buzzed than that on this night, at 1 a.m., when we bounded out of Bunratty’s to find my car missing. This one still stings because parking in that BayBank lot after-hours was just flat out mindless and, of course, I was perfectly sober when the decision was made. I knew better. We were probably racing to see Dumptruck, our favorite band and the headliners that night. Great show.

However, when we emerged and found the car gone, we doubled back to the corner outside the club, the intersection of Commonwealth and Brighton avenues, where we might find a pay phone. Remember them?

Indeed, the standout moment from this evening, or one of them, was the way Rose ordered and then savagely attacked an Italian sausage sub from some street-cart vendor as I navigated the telephone information system (remember that?) in order to locate the appropriate impoundment lot. The fact that Rose is now a vegetarian plays a role in this amusing memory, but mainly it resonates because it was the template for how a 20something male might impulsively buy and inhale street food in a drunken, late-night,  haven’t-put-anything-in-my-stomach-for-6-hours-except-8-Black-Label-bar-bottles sort of way.

It took a long time to determine that my car had been transported to Alewife, 20 minutes away on the Cambridge-Arlington line. I mauled a sausage sub myself, waiting on the phone. Having estimated the cost of liberating my ‘82 Honda Accord, plus cab fare, I hit the ATM. When we arrived at the lot, it became clear we were 10 bucks short. The attendant would not negotiate. Would not take my license or credit card as collateral. Infuriating, and by now it was 3 a.m., and Alewife is way off the beaten track. We faced the prospect of walking all the way out to Mass Ave., hailing another cab, finding an ATM, and going back.

As we walked sullenly through the chain-link lot gate, a cop rolled by us at observation speed. By now, we’re pretty damned sober, or so it seemed. Counter-intuitively I flagged him down and told him the whole, sad story. “Get in.” He took us to the ATM, waited for us and delivered us back to Alewife. By now it was close to 4 a.m. and we were totally sober.

We went straight home, as we’d already eaten.


[This is the second in a series on urban parking misadventures and their sometimes harsh repurcussions. See the first installment here.]

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