26 September 2008

My Car Elazar: Lost

I am currently reveling in gratitude as today was the third time I went outside to find my car, Elazar, right where I left it. You might be thinking that is an odd thing to be grateful for, but it really isn't (and even if it was I would still deny it). It wasn't always that way. In fact just earlier this week I went to get in my car and it wasn't there. I walked but to the apartment steps then back to the parking lot, much slower this time. I was hoping that the world had not loaded the parking lot correctly and that by refreshing and going slower it might render the parking lot correctly. Alas, it didn't work. No Elazar to be found. I slowly walk through the entire parking with my keys casually at my side while frantically pressing the lock button hoping to hear my horn honk.

I thought to myself "I am pretty sure that I left my car right here".

I stopped in the office and asked "if I parked my car over there (pointing to the lot) and now it isn't there, where would it be?"

The office manager then informed me that my car would have probably been towed and that I should call "Darren" the towing guy. Apparently, EVERYONE knows who Darren is except me.

So I had to ask "Who's Darren? Why does he have my car? And, what is his number?"
I spent some time talking to the manager who said she couldn't do anything, the next day she called the office which told her they couldn't do anything either.

Minutes later I showed up at the office to talk with the Supervisor. We talked for about a half hour before I realized that she really didn't hear anything I was saying. She kept saying I needed to take some responsibility in this matter (she said those words at least three different times). Finally I stopped her.

"Let me take this from the top" I told her. "I May I pay for a parking contract with you according to your housing rules. That contract, according to Rexburg City Ordinance, entitles me to a parking spot in my apartment complex. Early September I show up at the complex and am informed that you, in violation of my contract and Rexburg City Ordinance 975, have oversold your parking spaces and that I, who paid before most everyone else, will need to park in some other parking lot because of your violation of the law."

I raised my hand to stop her interruption. "I understand you had some sort of a computer glitch, but I don't car. You are still in the wrong." She settles back in her chair and I continue.

"Further I was instructed by my manager that she would inform me when a permit for this other, then unknown, lot was available. This enacted the clause in our contract that states that I require a permit unless otherwise instructed by my manager. Your failure to provide me permit does not void my right to park in your parking lot." I took a deep breath. "So the day that you notify me that my permit is available you tow my car before I can even get to the office to get said permit."

She interrupted during my pause. "We towed your car before you had the permit?"

I rolled my eyes in my mind and knew now that she really hadn't been listening to me up until now. "Yes."

"Oh, I thought that you had been given the permit but just hadn't put it on your car."

"No, I am a responsible enough person to put my permit on my car shortly after I received it."

She reached for some note paper, "sorry, what was your name again."

"Daniel," finally I seem to be making some progress, "do you want my phone number?"

"Sure, let me make some calls and see what I can do."

This made the situation more promising. As I left her office I was grateful that I had walked and not drove. Walking home let me vent some anger. At home I felt drained and just sat in the living room for awhile. My manager gingerly knocked on the door.

"I have some mail for you," she said. "I talked to the office and the supervisor said she talked to the towing guy who said that he would just open the gate and not charge you for your car."

ARRRRGGHHH!! Did they not hear anything I said? Was I speaking in some completely foreign dialect that they couldn't understand? I had clearly mentioned to the manager and the supervisor that I had already got my car and that I wanted to be reimbursed.

"I thought you weren't going to get your car out until after we talked."

"What?! Why would I let the storage fees pile up? It cost $30 a day; do you think I want to pay that?"

"I told you we could get that waived," that manager replied.

"Why would I want to wait for you guys?" I take a deep breath. "I want a reimbursement. That is all I am looking for."

"I think the Supervisor said we could pay $75 of it."

"I want all of it, $160..." I wanted to go on. I wanted to say "I shouldn't have had to pay anything, nor should my car have been towed, nor should you have oversold you lot." But I realized the manager hadn't done this, she couldn't reimburse me. "The office is closed isn't it?"

The manager nodded her head yes.

"I will talk to them Monday." The manager turned and left and I sat back down on the couch. I realized two things. The first, how true my friends words were "every apartment has issues; you just need to choose the one that had the problems you are willing to deal with." As I thought about it, if this issue gets resolved soon I would probably come back next year (this year is already paid for).

The second is that I have a sharp escalation curve. Escalation is an intriguing trait. It is the trait that says if, on Wednesday, they had offered to pay the $100 and I pay the $30 I would have been fine. Even on Thursday I would have been good paying the $60 if they paid the $100. But to come to me two days after my car is towed after I have paid to get it out and to tell me that they will pay $75, less than half of their mistake, at this point I am looking for $160 on Monday with interest accruing Tuesday on. I am not quite sure where I got this sense of escalation from, maybe my dad, maybe my grandpa. But I am grateful that my parents gave me enough tools in life to deal with issues like this. I am also grateful to my parents for teaching me to take responsibility. Though I am pretty sure this is not the kind of responsibility that the housing supervisor had in mind, I feel that it would be irresponsible to not get reimbursed.

After a couple more days of talking with the manager she agreed to pay the remaining $25 of the towing fee. I am glad that we arrived at a reasonable solution.

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