Gaining Perspective

A dreary place at 7:00 a.m. Lincoln Towing
There's this ridiculous situation where I live.

The condo association offers guests parking in the Circle Drive close to the front door of the building. But not to residents, who presumably have their coveted spot in the garage.

That's not so bad. But if you do dare to park in the Circle Drive in the evening, if for some reason you take this risk, maybe you think you'll be right back, or maybe someone calls you and you get involved in a conversation, or you put a soup on and have to watch it and forget about the car--

if the car is still there between 2-6 a. m., a tow truck will certainly hook it up and tow it away in those wee hours.

There are signs in the driveway that communicate this; it isn't exactly rocket science. People have to move their cars from the Circle Drive.

Why? The rule is so old nobody remembers why anymore. It doesn't matter, but last night I forgot to move my car and this morning, thinking he would find it in our usual spot in the garage, FD returned to the condo, confused.

I'm pouring the coffee he has made.

"Car isn't in the usual spot," he informs me, unemotionally. "I'm walking to shul (the synagogue). See if you can track it down. Stay in touch." And he's gone.

My immediate response is an expletive, only one expletive, just so you should know, one that is preceded by a loud

OH! as in,  OH, ___!

It's the kind of thing that doesn't come out of my mouth very often, so when it does, I know I'm upset. This happened once before, this rendezvous bit with Lincoln Towing. It had been pouring that night, deafening lightening and thunder, and being terrified, I hid under the covers and fell asleep. Never did move the car. Surely innocent to a jury of my peers.

But no. To get it out of the auto pound a crummy $198.00 is required. And they don't have change.

I dig out the cash, throw on a coat, and trudge downstairs to wait for the bus. At the stop I text my kids to see if anyone is around to pick up their father. Everyone is willing, but FD is fine. He'll wait to see how things play out. His early meeting at the hospital is optional.

Chicago CTA bus
My bus comes right away and the driver is garrulousness, in a fabulous mood (this is the end of his shift, we'll see). No, he can't change a twenty, and no, this bus will not get me anywhere near 4882 Clark Street. I'll need to transfer at Lawrence. He lets me on for free and offers an "emergency" transfer.

I am tickled. It isn't as if I don't pay lots of taxes for this sort of bail out, but still. Perhaps when your car is towed it is considered an emergency to the CTA. If so, What a wonnerful city, as the late Mayor Richard J. Daley would have said. And it is, truly.

The bus is getting more and more crowded, but I have a good seat. About a half-mile before my stop I see that my driver is getting up to leave, has pulled over to the curb at the light. He's switching with another driver at Foster. I sprint to the front to thank him again and ask if I can take his picture.

I have this blog, I say, it's a therapy blog, Everyone Needs Therapy, and if he wouldn't mind, I could post his picture, tell the world what a great city this is, how a kindness like his, just being really nice at 6:30 in the morning, changes everything for the low-lifes in the world like myself, those who leave their cars overnight in the Circle Drive.

He laughs, "This isn't going up on YouTube right?  I don't want that!"

"Oh, I won't even put up the picture," I tell him, "It didn't come out very well. Don't worry."

He seems disappointed.

Now. The new driver has heard this conversation. "Yes," he nods, "Therapy. People do need therapy.  I swear, the people who ride the bus, man, do they need therapy some of them." He is whispering so that if what he's saying is inappropriate, maybe I won't hear. This man has a true conscience, it is refreshing.

"Uh, huh," I agree, "tell me about it."

He proceeds to tell me quite a bit about himself, how his Mom raised him right, and how she and his father paid attention to him and watched who he hung out with, and made sure he did well in school, and parents today don't do that, and so many of them are on drugs, what is a child to do? Mom made sure he knew that there was a God, too, and he is forever grateful for that, too.

"The most important thing," he tells me, "is kindness.  If you're nice to people they'll be nice to other people. It's a pay it forward thing, like in that movie, Pay it Forward. That's absolutely the most important thing we can do is just be nice. That's all," he says. "That's all."

And I'm thinking, that $198.00 I'm going to spend is a drop in the bucket compared to what people spend on drugs, those who spend money on cocaine, maybe heroin, and probably isn't that much to some who spend their money on lottery tickets or beer and marijuana, either.

And if I only do this, fail at moving my car, lose that gamble, say, every six months, that gamble on  parking in the Circle Drive, the one for guests only, not even a gamble if it is there between 2-6 a.m., a surety, then maybe that isn't so bad either.

Could be worth it to hang out with these guys turning the corners on the CTA in the very early morning rush hour.


PS: The late folk song writer/performer Steve Goodman did a wonderful spoof on a car towing company in Chicago, The Lincoln Park Pirates.  Totally worth a listen. Back then I think it was only $135 to redeem your automobile, but how would I know?


Meansomething said…
I love this story. I love your take on life in general, in fact.

It's good to be reminded that mistakes happen and that when they do, there is usually a bus that will get you where you need to go.
Syd said…
Glad that it all worked out okay. And that the bus drivers were interesting and compassionate.
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