Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The ZoeMobile is Free!

Well, I've just come back from picking up the ZoeMobile, and it's none the worse for what it's been through.

Aunt Shelly picked me up and drove me first to the ATM at the Schnucks across the street, and then to the hell that is called Barcliff's Towing. Barcliff's Towing consists of a large, fenced gravel lot and a small, gray trailer with a faded sign. I groaned in anticipation, and my angel Shelly said, "I'll go in with you." We were careful to park where she wouldn't get towed.

After I climbed the steps and opened the door, I immediately realized that I'd be going for chemo treatments later in life to combat the lung cancer I was going to get just from standing in this trailer for five minutes. A woman with one arm in a cast flashed her filmy, tobacco-covered teeth in what I took for a smile and I said, "Hi. I need to get my car?" She asked, "What is it?" "It's a '99 Honda Accord..." As I got out my title (proof of ownership) and driver's license (pitcher ID), then stripped off the twenties to pay, Shelly commented to me, "They take cash so it's under the table and they don't have to claim it." Nicotine said, "Oh no, ma'am. We have to claim it all. We gotta turn it in to the po-lice and errything. The ah-RS knows how many cars we take in." She then proceeded to make change for me out of her cigarette case.

No kidding. Who even uses those things anymore? And who uses them as cash drawers? Yeah, I bet that's real IRS-approved.

I asked her, out of sheer morbid curiosity, "So, how many cars did you get off that lot last night?" "Oh, about 12 or 13. There were 25 or 30, but we couldn't get 'em all. Ran outta time." But you managed to get ours. Great. Just our luck. Nicotine and her pals made at least $3,000 off that lot last night, and probably more with the other lots they were called to. Beano has a colleague whose husband tows for a living, and he was running hither and yon last night. It was a good night for the fine City of St. Louis and their towtruck pardners.

Nico made copies of my title and my license, and then waved me out the door and to the side of the building, "Ya'all just go out there and I'll tell 'em to open the gate."

A man who looked like Cooter from "The Dukes of Hazzard" opened the gate and waved me through. There, all alone with autos that looked like they had just completed their fifth demolition derby, sat my little car. Patiently waiting for me to bust it out of the joint. I did a quick perusal and the only thing that looked funky was that my e-brake wasn't on. We always, always, use the e-brake. It's just habit, like putting on our seatbelt. So that was strange to me, and made me wonder how they got into my car to take the brake off. And then there was that weird, surreal feeling that someone else has been in my car, and how it was strange to be getting my car from a place that I hadn't driven it to, nor had ever been before.

And, hopefully, will never go again.


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