What a day. What was suppose to be an hour appointment in Baltimore turns into a 6hr trip from hell.
Baltimore, or Bawlmur as it's more closely pronounced by the natives, is now full of the newer Pay to Park meter systems. Rather than feed a meter, you buy a ticket with a time stamp from a kiosk and place it on your dash. This undoubtedly ensures no one taking your parking spot, and any remaining time on it, can short the city a few cents. Majority of street parking expires at 4pm on weekdays, with the exception that is of several poorly marked sections maybe 25ft in length at random street corners. These are dubiuosly marked as no parking 3-6pm, if you actually see them. Here's the photo I'll be bringing to court.
As we came up Paca St for the second time looking for a spot we had decided to just park in the garage there on the right (first entrance after the second Pay to Park sign). But there just happened to be a space right infront the entrance by that second Pay to Park sign. Needless to say we never see the first sign with the No Stopping 3-6pm only posted at the corner behind several other signs. No where else except on the oppostite side of the street on the same corner is that No Stopping sign posted above a Payto Park sign. As usual, 1:20 appointment runs late so finally realizing my time should be expiring, I go out with Maddy to re-up the meter. Hmm, no car. Many expletives followed by a call to tell Gina, a few more expletives in convincing her it's not a joke, the car is gone. I call information to get the city impound lot, the girl there says she doesn't have the car and for whatever reason cannot call any of the tow truck drivers to see if it's being brought in.
I was so livid over the poor street markings and disorganizaion of the parking enforcement I called and reported it stolen. The police show up 15min later (2 officers for a non-emergency call, hmm, and this city has a budget crisis and one of the highest crime rates i nthe country?) . 45min later the impound lot finally confirms it's there so we walk over to UMD hospital so I can catch a cab. Now I have to leave Gina and Maddy sitting there in the atrium while I cab it across the city to the impound lot, during rush hour. $262 and a $10 cab ride later ($2.50 of which was just getting out of the hospital) I have the car.
While I'm there I see this guy sitting with three little kids, two boys and a girl all under the age of 4, looking pretty dejected. All I could think of was Maddy, then I got worried for the kids so when I go out to get the car I stop and ask him if he wass ok. He tells me how they got towed while at John's Hopkins hospital during his son's Dr.'s appointment. Worse part is they are from PA, two hours away. Feeling even worse for these kids I give him $40 and tell him to at least get his kids some food if they have to wait around for a ride home and at least take a cab to a better part of town if it gets dark. As I'm ready to leave, his girlfriend comes out of the office crying saying she has no idea how they were going to afford $262 to get their car out since it's an entire week's paycheck for him and they don't get paid until Friday. I wasn't sure what to do but I had to get back to maddy and Gina so I wished them good luck, got the car and left.
As we were leaving B'more I was telling Gina this story and she got a bit upset so we decided to drive back across town to the impound lot. It just kind of sucked to think of those kids and the sacrifices they would have to make to go without a week's pay for one of their parents. When we got there they were gone but the girl in the office said they had walked down to City Hall to try and get someone to help them revoke the fine. A few minutes later they were back since City Hall was closed and still with no idea how to pay for the ticket. The guy was so surpised and happy to see me, and started telling us how he had just started going to church and turning his life around for the sake of his kids. Just as we were ready to pay his fine so they could get home his girlfriend finally got a hold of a family member half willing to pay their fine but she wasn't sure the impound lot would take the credit card over the phone so we stayed with them for next hour until it was all sorted out and they were on their way back to PA.
We finally got home around 7, 6hrs after getting into the city for a 1hr Dr.'s appointment. The guy called me around 10:30 to let me know they all got home and the kids were in bed. All I can say is, when you think things are bad, just remember they could be worse.