Saturday, December 15, 2012

Late Night Williamsburg Nightmare...

What an emotionally confusing weekend.

Yesterday was my birthday.  I actually have been having a wonderful birthday weekend and I will talk about that at a later date since the weekend is not over yet and more shenanigans are to follow tomorrow.  I had an awful experience yesterday that started at 12 midnight so I my head it was no longer on my birthday.  I am saying it was all today.  Originally I had planned on spending today watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy before seeing The Hobbit, but that plan got canned quick.

Every year for my birthday I spend the day in New York City (the last three years anyway).  This year I decided to drive in.  I have become one of those people that finds the train a nuisance.  I can zone out in my car and raise the music.  I like that comfort over reading a book with loud passengers and then carrying the thing around all day.  So I drove into Williamsburg Brooklyn.  I am very familiar with the area and I am comfortable with the subway in the area.  I got into Brooklyn at 10:40am, parked my car, walked down to Bedford and 7th and then hopped on the subway.

Spent a very long day wandering NYC finishing up at about 11:30pm.  I hopped back on the subway and returned to my parking spot at midnight to no car.  I questioned if I had even returned to the right spot because I did have a drink at dinner.  I walked up a block and down a block.  I knew I had been right next to the bike rack.  There were no bike racks a block up and a block down.  I was in the right spot.  This is one of the roads I park on when I go to our training gym.  I normally park on the actual road the gym in on but Con Edison had it blocked off.  So I parked on the side street where I have parked before and had no issues.  I had checked for parking signs and there were none.  Plus I have left my car there in the past.

I immediately thought my car was stolen since from my knowledge it was not in a tow zone and I don’t have outstanding tickets or violations.  As one could assume I freaked out a little.  I called a friend that I had just been with in the city who told me to call 911.  I did the same thing when I was in a minor car accident in 2005.  I called a friend freaking out who told me to call 911.  I need guidance sometimes.  I called 911 and they said I had to stay in the spot where the car had been and wait for an officer followed by a message saying the NYPD was very busy and it may take time to respond.

So there I was at midnight in Williamsburg by myself, on a vacant street corner, in a warehouse area and it was very cold.  Eventually, I sat down on the corner which I am very much aware the residents in the area would disapprove of.  They had spikes added to the spots where one could sit comfortably.  As I was sitting there a dog with tags and no leash came strolling down the street.  I immediately thought “oh no, now I am going to have to call this person.”  There is no way I would leave a friendly tagged dog to wander the streets.  Then it’s owner came around the corner.  I scared her but she lives in the building I was sitting in front of and asked if I needed anything.  See New Yorkers are friendly.  Wait until I talk about my birthday wandering Manhattan and all the nice people I encountered and that’s not sarcasm.

Anyway, after sitting in the cold waiting for exactly an hour, I called 911 again.  This time I made sure to tell them I was alone on a street corner, scared and very cold.  They showed up 20 minutes later.  Not one car but two.  This was 1:20am.

The first thing I learned is make sure you know your license plate number.  I thought I knew mine but I wasn’t 100% sure.  I definitely knew the letters but I was unsure of the numbers because of this the one cop was speaking to me as thought I was really dumb.  “Do you know the make and model of your car?”  She wasn’t an ass about it and I am guessing their experience with this are people that truly have no idea.  She kept telling me that if I can’t get my plate number they can’t help me.  Until I asked if they could find it by my license which I had.  They had also asked if I had outstanding fines which I don’t.

I also learned that people in this situation must have a tendency to leave their license in the car (or drive without it) because from beginning to end everyone was surprised I had my license on me.

She was able to look up my license plate number since I was driving a vehicle registered to me.  Another thing I am guessing is unusual since again people were surprised by this.

The good news was my car had not been stolen (best case scenario).  She said there were no signs of a break in because there was no glass in the area (shattered glass, never occurred to me).  Therefore the car had to have been towed.

Turns out the street I was parked on is a no parking Monday through Friday 6am until 8pm.  There is a sign and it’s on the other side of the block.  I am used to more signage plus quite a few cars were parked there.

So I left off with NYPD telling me that they were not able to get in touch with the Navy Yard to verify my car was actually there.  She also said they can’t track it via the NYPD because parking tows are not NYPD.  They gave me the two phone numbers, one being the public phone number and one being the NYPD line.  They also wrote my license plate number down.  Turns out even though I was unsure of my plate number I did have it correct.  She wouldn’t check the number if I was not absolutely sure.  They also told me that yard was 24 hours and they were not sure why the yard was not answering the phone.

When I finished with the NYPD, I walked to the bodega by the Bedford subway stop on my way I witnessed a man get jumped by several other men beating him on top of someone’s car while screaming.  This made me walk to the bodega faster which was very close by, but what shocked me was the amount of people that stopped to watch including groups of women.  I pretty much ran into the bodega and with frozen fingers managed to make a hot chocolate with no disasters.  I don’t normally drink hot chocolate since it has milk in it but I needed to be warmed up and I don’t care for coffee, plus 2am is not the time for caffeine.  I asked the cashier if I could wait inside for a bit and warm up.  He was more then fine.  I then saw NYPD come down the road which made me feel a lot better about that man getting beat up.

While I had been waiting for the NYPD I started trying to get in touch with people that might be awake.  Reality is regardless of whether my car was towed or stolen, I had to find somewhere to go for the night.  Part of it was also to distract me, as I did get in touch with a friend of mine out in the Philly area.  As long as I am focused on a task or distracted I can’t get to upset.  I was also in complete disbelief about what had happened.  Two friends were up (or woke up) and willing to have me for the night.  I am crazy independent so asking for help is really hard for me but I definitely needed it.

Unfortunately my closer friend passed out while I was occupied with the NYPD.  So when I was warming up in the bodega contacting that person failed.  I had a decision to make.  Either attempt going there in hopes they wake up and take a guess at the address or take a cab out to Kew Gardens.  I knew there was no guarantee my closer friend was going to wake up so I decided to go to Kew Gardens.

Hailed a cab and the first cab refused to take me there.  He said if I didn’t have directions he couldn’t take me there.  Defeated, I got out of the cab.  I panicked a bit thinking “okay now I either try going to my sleeping friends place or pay for a hotel.”  I can’t exactly afford a hotel on top of whatever fees I was going to be faced with.  I hailed a second cab and asked him about Kew Gardens and he said “Yes.  I have GPS!”  Unfortunately, he was very new so not used to his GPS and I was worried he was going to take me to the wrong place but he didn’t.  He did however direct me to walk up the road which was the wrong direction.  He got a very nice tip.  I was very happy to have gotten there especially after the first refused to take me.

After the fact, I learned cab drivers risk losing their license if they refuse to take you.  Next time, I will be taking down their medallion number if that happens.

I got to my friends at 2:40am.  She had to be up for work shortly.  I feel awful for keeping her up all night but very grateful.  We were asleep by 3 and up by 6 when we both went into Manhattan.  Before falling asleep I made sure to text friends I had contacted to let them know I wasn’t roaming the streets of Brooklyn and scare them when they wake up.  In the morning, I called 311 and verified that my car was in fact towed.  The woman also told me it had been towed at 5pm by NYPD.  So I can’t not wonder if the NYPD was just trying to get rid of me last night since they said it was not towed by NYPD.  She also let me know that I would need both my license and original registration or title to pick the car up.  My registration was in the car and getting my title is a four hour trip home and back via trains and cabs at best.  She told me to call the yard when it opens and talk to them they might be able to let me get the registration out of the car.

When they opened I called and spoke with another lady who told me to come on over and if need be they would give me access to my car to retrieve any needed documents.  Huge sigh of relief I completely word vomited and said how I barely slept and got suck in the city and all I wanted to do was get home and go to bed.  She just said make sure you get here before 3pm.  Otherwise I would be stuck until Monday morning.

I have never gotten a ticket.  Never.  Okay once but it was for a suspended registration from an insurance lapse.  Even though I had fixed the insurance I was not aware my registration had been suspended.  That’s not really what people have in mind when one gets pulled over and ticketed.  I have been to impound lots before though and it’s not somewhere I wanted to be again.  My mother used to constantly get pulled over for drunk driving and have to get her car out in the morning.  Fortunately for her the impound was very close to where we lived.  She could walk there.

So I hoped into a cab and went out to Dumbo Brooklyn to pick up my car.  The lady at the desk was very nice.  I told her my documents were in the car and she almost sent me out with paperwork allowing me to access the vehicle.  I realized she thought my license was not on me.  When I made sure she knew I had my license she said if the car is registered to me I will not need the actual documents.  It is and I didn’t need my documents.  Small bonus.  I guess most people that have their cars impounded are severely lacking in documentation and don’t own their cars.  I find this very odd.  NYPD the previous night even assumed the car wasn’t registered to me.  Do most people drive cars registered to other people?  I know there is a catch 22 in leaving the registration in the car or in your wallet.  If it’s in the car and your car is stolen they have your documents but if it’s in your wallet and you loan your car to someone and they get pulled over that’s no good either.

Anyway, I paid for the tow, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Thankfully I have a wild imagination.  They also did not charge me the over night fee.  I had been told over the phone because it was towed Friday at 5pm I had to pay for the additional day in the lot.  Pretty annoying since the lot closed at 6 on Friday and according to the ticket I still have to deal with I was ticketed at 1:30pm on Friday.   The cost of the ticket isn’t bad and it doesn’t carry any points.

So I made it home by 12 noon today, after stopping at the store for food.  I went right to sleep and woke up at 6pm and then ate my first meal of the day.  I am still coming down from the stress.

I have to say that everyone I encountered during this (except that one cab driver) was very nice and helpful.  I can’t complain about the NYPD at all.  The responding officers, the lady at 311, the lady that answered at the yard, the cashier at the yard, the escort that took me to my car, the officer that checked me out, both cab drivers… everyone was wonderful.  I have no complaints.

Thing is, as my friend pointed out, this could have been avoided.  All of it and it is my fault and I am not just talking about parking in a no parking zone.  I am used to being in Williamsburg but not late at night by myself.  I am very independent, but it’s times like these I don’t like being a female.  I also tend to find it tough to get company to be with me regardless of what I am doing.  Unfortunately, most people say they want to do things and don’t actually go through with it.  I have had so many broken plans in the past that left me stuck at home because I was left to be alone.  I choose not plan my life that way because if I do I wind up sitting at home.  People tend to be taken back by the things I accomplish and do and it’s because I don’t let anyone hold me back.  I mean the one thing that I insist on not doing alone is being on a con floor and even that is pulling teeth (though not as hard as it used to be).  So I guess I am mixing safety and independence a bit too closely.  Next time I will either use a car lot or take the train.  Plus the friend, I was with agreed to not send me back to Brooklyn alone at night in the future regardless of convenience.  I was supposed to stay out later also.  I can’t even imagine how last night/this morning would have been like had I stayed out later.

I can’t say how thankful I am to my friends that let me stay over.  I know they will see this.  I thanked them a hundred times over and I still think its not enough.  Love you.

Does anyone know how to get the numbers off my passenger side window?  I tried window cleaner and it is not budging.  I would really like to get it off before I go to work on Monday.  Car wash maybe?  I am not even sure what they used.  Of course now that I am more awake I am thinking I should try soap.  Maybe in the morning.  For now I am going back to sleep and heading back to Brooklyn in the morning.  The same area also.  Fortunately, I asked a friend also coming out to Brooklyn if I could ride with her because I really don’t want to take my car back out there this weekend.  Can you blame me?  If it wasn’t for class and an amazing show I would just stay home.  I could use an extra day of rest.

And that’s all for now folks.