Sunday, 16 June 2013


STUCK ON THE HIGHWAY WITH NOWHERE TO GO.

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth lived through an annus horribilis, a whole year of horror. So I’m not complaining. I had only one really bad day -- last week when my car stalled in the centre lane of a busy highway. A crowd of angry commuters maneuvered around me, trying not to hit my car. Some of them looked like they wanted to ram it. Fear of skyrocketing insurance rates was all that stood between me and their bumper.

Of course I called the CAA. That’s the “AAA” for my American friends. Der Autoabschleppdienst for my German readers. The break-down service for Queen Elizabeth, if she had to worry about stalled cars.

The CAA promised to send a tow truck within 30 minutes. Meanwhile a police cruiser pulled up behind me. To serve and protect, as the slogan said on the side of his car. Meaning to put on those flashing lights and protect me from would-be rearenders? No, stupid. Meaning that I was in the wrong place.

You can’t stay here, he said.
Yes, officer, but my clutch won’t clutch!

So he called the CAA. The dispatcher was unimpressed. The gist of her answer was: they didn’t have tow-helicopters, and so it was still a 30-minute wait unless cops could work miracles.

As it turns out, they can. A cheerful man with a tow truck showed up within 2 minutes and charged me the special police rate of 270 Dollars/10 kilometers.

I meant that ironically, but a brief search on the net showed me that I did in fact get a bargain. It’s not infrequent for people to be charged $ 800-1400, according to Seattletimes.com.

And worse things can happen:
According to Yellowbullet.com, a couple went off on a month’ holiday, came back, and found that their car had not only been towed but auctioned off.

Another man, whose car had been towed to a pound, signed over the ownership because the vehicle wasn’t worth the $ 900 they wanted to charge him. The car was auctioned off for $25, and the ex-owner is still being hounded for the difference, according to Forum. miata.net.

But that’s still not the worst. On Dbzf.co.uk, Daniel San reported his mother’s white Jeep was mistaken for that of his neighbor and towed by a repo company. They did return it the next day, a little worse for wear.

Well that’s better than a roofing company tearing off your shingles by mistake, right?

Or Senators Duffy and Wallin living in the wrong house by mistake. They submitted expense claims for staying in Ottawa, thinking their primary residence was elsewhere.

Or Mayor Ford being caught on video smoking the wrong pipe, thinking I don’t know what.

And some Torontonians may think they are in the wrong city when they see this sign (thanks, Julius!):

 

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