I get home from my business trip to Washington DC only to find that my car is not where I parked it. Nor is it anywhere to be found. Am I surprised? Fuck no. After all, this is me we're talking about! The only people who have access to it are myself and my roommate who is an auto mechanic. He isn't home at the time, but I assume that he has the car. When I question him later, he's baffled. I panic and call the police. I feel a bit nervous doing this if only because I got arrested just a week ago. I file a missing vehicle report. But this is only the beginning of my troubles.
The next day, I have to walk to work. It's only about 4 miles, but the temperatures had dropped quite a bit and it was about to start snowing. I decide that this sucks. I had tried to make arrangements with a co-worker for a ride, but he never got the message until the next day, the bastard.
Soon, I get a call back from the police. They have found the car. Is it crashed? Vandalized? Destroyed? Nope. It's sitting safely in an impound lot at Allen's Towing in Savage, MN. WTF? How? When? Turns out that the Property Manager where my townhouse is located had it towed off the community parking lot the day after I left town. It's been impounded for a whole fucking week. The fee to get it released is $451.58. And they add $30 every 24 hours. Well, shit.
I ask my roommate for help finding some phone numbers, and I get a hold of somebody from the townhouse Association. I ask about the car. Surprisingly, they know nothing about any car being towed while I was gone. I ask who the Property Manager is. Turns out he lives on the property as well. I march over to his townhouse.
Property Manager isn't there, but his wife is. She looks strangely familiar. I think I used to work with her at some point in my twisted career. I quickly brush that thought away and question her about my missing car. She knows nothing about it, and heard nothing about it. But she was kindly, took my info, gave me her husband's cell number, and said she'd call her husband immediately.
She wasn't kidding. Property Manager calls me back within minutes. He also knows nothing about any car being towed. Wait... WHAT? The police and the towing company said that the tow was requested BY the Property Manager. So if he didn't make the call, who did?
Property Manager makes some phone calls, and gets back to me a few hours later. He suggests I speak directly with a certain lady at Allen's Towing first thing in the morning.
I call Allen's Towing, speak with the person in question, and ask how it was my car got towed. She pulls up the report and read it to me.
"Vehicle was towed because it was parked on private property."
I respond with, "I LIVE ON THAT PRIVATE PROPERTY." Towing Lady gives me a few moments of confused silence. She asks if I live in an apartment or townhome. I do. Towing Lady curtly explains that the Property Manager had the car towed because it was parked in a designated parking space. No it wasn't. There's no signage in that space at all. (See photo above). She tells me I'll have to take that up with the Property Manager. I explain that I've already spoken with him and he doesn't know anything about this incident. In fact, he's the one who suggested that I talk directly to her.
I ask for the name of the person who called for the tow. Surely they had to sign for it. Turns out his name is Greg Lind. Who the hell is that?
I call Property Manager back and ask just who the hell Greg Lind is, and if he's the Property Owner or Manager. He isn't. In fact, he's just a regular resident of one of the other townhomes. Apparently, he simply impersonated the Property Manager in order to have my car towed. Property Manager tells me his address.
16766 Brunswick Ave. SE
Prior Lake, MN 55372-2942
After work (got a ride from co-worker this time), I march over to Greg Lind's residence. He's not home. I leave the following note attached to his door:
My name is Frost. I am your neighbor. Please call me ASAP. [xxx-xxx-xxxx]
About 7pm I get a phone call from Greg Lind. He speaks in a mumbly voice, nearly slurring, and accentuated with expletives. He sounds like some kind of moany high-school dropout, or maybe a football jock who couldn't get into college. I explain that I was out of town on a business trip for a week, and when I returned home my car was missing. After filing a police report, it turns out that it had been towed in his name. He gets belligerent says he doesn't know anything about it. Tells me I'll have to take it up with the Association.
Oh, super. Funny, that I've already talked with the Association President and the Property Manager and neither of them know anything about it. Oh yeah, and THE TOWING RECEIPT IS IN YOUR NAME, JACKASS! He denies all responsibility, and tells me to talk to the board. Then he goes into some enraged monologue about how that's HIS fucking parking spot for visitors and how he left goddamn notes on my car and how he just couldn't fucking take it anymore and he's sick and tired of people like me who have no goddamn respect and I'll have to take it up with the Association Board.
I ask him who he spoke with. He says, "the Board." I ask for a name. He says, "Look, I'm not going to start naming names. You'll have to take it up with the fucking Board." I explain that in order for me to further my investigation, I need to track down the person who called my car into the towing company. He responds with several colorful metaphors and groans, "Where is this conversation going? I really don't have time for this. I've got shit to do." And basically hangs up on me.
We have a winner, folks. Greg Lind is the jackhole that stole my car. Or essentially did so by messing with my personal property of his own accord, even though he has no valid reason or authority to do so.
I report this to Property Manager. He says he's going over to Greg's place and is going to confront him about it. About an hour later, he calls me back and says that Greg fed him the same bullshit line over and over: "You'll have to talk to the Board."
Meanwhile, I've called the police back, and asked what my options are for prosecuting Greg Lind. By this time it's late in the evening, and I'll have another day for further action.
At this point, it costs over $500 to get my car out of impound. I don't have $500 just now. Ultimately, this bill is going to be paid by the person who had my car unlawfully towed.
I get a return phone call from the police: "While what Mr. Lind did could be considered immoral or unethical, it's not technically a crime... nothing we'd consider criminal, since your car isn't technically stolen, it's just moved." Gee, that's super.
I disagree with this cop. I think I can throw the book at Greg Lind. I begin researching towing laws in Minnesota. Turns out I can also sue the towing company.
Meanwhile, Property Manager calls me back and says that he needs to confirm Mr. Lind's statements with the Board, so he's calling an emergency meeting over the weekend. If in fact the Association had my car towed prematurely and without proper reason or process, then they will reimburse my recovery costs. Furthermore, until I can retrieve it on my own, Property Manager offers to drive me to anyplace critical. Property Manager +10!
He continues by saying unfortunately, the Association treasury is quite low, and between garbage service and snow removal, they won't have enough to pay me this month. Association -500. Fucking great. Looks like I'm going to have to forfeit my entire next paycheck to getting this car released.
In the meantime, should I need to leave my townhouse for anything like, say, groceries, I can simply walk to the Village Market grocery store, only a few blocks away. But because it's me, and because God hates me, it turns out that Greg Lind is the manager of that grocery store. *palmface*
Pending results from the weekend meeting, I begin hunting for a criminal attorney (pun intended). I find an appropriate one and speak with him on the phone about my case. Firstly, he tells me that no lawyer is going to take my case because the damages are less than $7400 so this can be settled in conciliation (small claims) court. Secondly, he advises me that the towing company can easily deny responsibility, saying that they were working under the verbal credentials that Mr. Lind gave them, believing that he was the Property Manager. And thirdly, since my property is recoverable, what Mr. Lind did cannot be considered a crime punishable by law.
"So what you're saying is that, through no fault of my own, my vehicle was towed and impounded for 2 weeks at a major financial expense, canceling all of my plans for that time, becoming a detriment to my employment and a serious inconvenience to me personally, and now I have to pony up the dough and just bite the bullet?" I asked.
"Yes, that's correct." the prosecutor said.
"And Mr. Lind gets no penalty for this. Does that seem right to you?"
"You'll have to take that up with the county attorney's office. I'm sorry, I can't help you."
Friday the 13th
My direct-deposit paycheck comes through. Normally, this automatically disperses into several interest-bearing affiliate accounts for retirement, personal savings, weekly expenses, and so on. Instead, I cancel all of my transfers for this week so that I have one lump sum of cash I can forfeit to Allen's Towing when they open at 8am.
My co-worker takes me there. Inside the office door on the reception desk there is a framed sign that reads, "If you are grouchy, irritated, or in any way unpleasant, you will be charged an extra $20 for us putting up with you. Extra will be charge for swear words." I put on a smile. Nobody is at the reception desk. A middle-aged lady with a frown sits at a desk in the corner. I greet her cheerfully. He simply looks up and says nothing. After an awkward pause, I tell her that I'm here to pickup a car. I give her the make, model, plate number, and date it came in. This woman is completely stoic. Without any expression at all, she gets on a radio and tells somebody to bring my car around front. With a smile, I'm charged only $541.58 for their wondrous "service". Then I ask for a copy of the work order. Without looking at me, she says it's attached to my receipt. I say, "When I spoke with you on the phone, you told me that there was some kind of a note attached, saying who called in the vehic--"
"It's just our call log, and we already gave that information to the police. You can get it from them." she waved me off condescendingly.
"Yes, I know." I chimed. "Officer Richards is the one who called here, and per his instructions, I'm supposed to get a copy of that call log directly from you. So if you wouldn't mind making a photocopy of it, I'd appreciate it."
No reaction. She opens the call log to the appropriate page, and puts it in the copier. She makes a copy, picks it up off the tray with no real urgency, walks near the reception desk, doesn't stop, looks anywhere but at me, literally drops the copy in mid air in front of me, lets if float down to the countertop, and mosies back to her desk. I look it over. The contrast is so light, you can just barely make out the print. But while squinting really hard, you can make out the name "Greg Lind". AND his address. Without a doubt, he's the one who called the car in.
When my car is brought around, there is a note under the windshield wiper that reads, "Park in your own SPOT not over here or it will be TOWED". There is no signature or phone number, but during our phone conversation on Tuesday, Greg said that he had left notes on my car. This must be his handwriting.
I relay this information to Property Manager. He confirms that nobody on the homeowners association board had anything to do with the tow, and is willing to prepare a written statement to that effect. I also prepare for conciliation court and file my claim, including the towing fine, the interest lost on funds used to pay for the fine, and a long list of punitave damages. According to the court clerk I talked to, my court date will be at the end of June, which means if I win, I won't see any of my missing money until July or August. *headdesk*