Sacramento Midtown Parking and Hair Stylist Woes

Hairdresser salon. Woman during hair washOnce the city of Minneapolis towed my car because it was parked across the street from the Star Tribune during rush-hour traffic. I had an appointment at the paper with the advertising staff to review an open house ad for selling my home. This is how we had to do it in the old days, physically go to the newspaper, or at least those of us who didn’t want to discover a surprise in her print advertising come Sunday morning.

Right after 4 PM, I found myself paralyzed on the sidewalk on Portland Avenue, staring at the spot where my car had once been. It was gone. This is when you have that shocking realization that first, well, perhaps you’re in the Twilight Zone. Or, maybe, just maybe, there’s a hidden camera stuffed into the fire hydrant and Allen Funt is about to pop out of the Strib doors to holler: Smile, You’re on Candid Camera. Then, a bit of paranoia creeps in, and you begin to explore the possibility that you had parked elsewhere, and not across the street from the Star Tribune. Is it early dementia?

Finally, I did what any self-respecting girl would do who was about to mushroom into full-blown panic, now contemplating that it must have been the Mafia who swiped my Miata, and grabbed the first intelligent looking woman I spotted to ask: Dude, Where’s my Car?

Perhaps the towing company took it, she surmised, pointing at a tow truck a block down Portland Avenue, toting a little white Miata. I tore off running. High heels and all. Panting, panting. Good, the guy was stopped at a light. I screamed at the driver but he didn’t hear me. Dangnabit. I grabbed the door handle and pulled my body up on the door frame, fists pounding the passenger window: that’s my car!! I offered him money but he refused, nope, he had to go directly to the towing yard, shaking his head, crazy woman.

My eyes swept the scene in a frenzed panic. Cars whizzing down the one-way like no tomorrow. No wonder you can’t park on that street. Aha, I spotted a cab. I waved him down, and he ignored me. It’s so irritating to be ignored. I dashed after him, opened his door and plopped myself in the front seat. Ma’am, I’m off duty, says he. Ha, ha, like that would deter me. We’re going to the towing yard.

That was a $200 lesson.

This experience of having my car towed crossed my mind yesterday when I was searching for a parking spot at the hair salon on J Street in Midtown. The parking lot in back was jammed full of vehicles parked every which way and some in line as though they were waiting to pick up their kids from nursery school. It was a zoo. All of the parking spots in front were nabbed. Aha, I spotted a few spots across the street, so I pulled my self-allotted real estate maneuver, but officer, I am a Sacramento real estate agent, is what I figure I will say if caught, and I spun a 180 in the middle of the street, across a double yellow.

Grabbed a fistful of quarters and got out. The parking meter digital screen read: No Parking Before 6 PM. There were other words below it that seemed confusing. If they had just said no parking, I would understand, but they added confusion. I glanced around. Other cars were parked on this side of the street. They didn’t have tickets on the windshield. I inspected the meter next to mine. Same thing. OK, well, maybe it’s a malfunction. I inserted a quarter. Flashing 00. Maybe THAT was a malfunction or a bad quarter, you know how sometimes you end up with quarters that some doofus has obviously repeatedly smashed with a hammer or run over with a Hummer?

I inserted a second quarter. 00. OK, that does it. Around the corner and down the street, I located another spot to park. Inserted my quarters and the meter flashed: Time limit, 1 hour 4 minutes. Wait a minute, this is 2-hour parking. I can see why people might kick a parking meter or pound on the machines or maybe just collapse on the sidewalk and sob. Then it dawned on me that 6 PM is free parking, so while the meter will accept more quarters, it won’t give you any extra time if it’s not required.

Beats having your vehicle towed, I sighed.

I dashed into the hair salon for my monthly appointment with minutes to spare. This is when my long-term hair stylist drops the bomb: she is pregnant, moving to Winters next month, and I’ll have to find somebody else to do my hair.

Well, my new hair stylist ought to offer a good-sized parking lot.

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