So You have to Go the Impound Lot: A Helpful Guide

5 Oct

My car got towed yesterday. Fuuuuuuuuu…

…dge.

Anyway. As a public service, I have compiled points from my recent experience with the impound lot. (Full disclosure: this was my THIRD TIME in a year. WHAT THE HELL, SELF.) For me, the reasons had to do with me not seeing signs, or just being an idiot. So my first and best piece of advice? Don’t be an idiot. Applies to just about everything, but it’s nice to be reminded, yes?

The other Most Important thing is attitude. As tough as this will be to accomplish, be nice. Most likely you will see the dude/dudet behind the counter deal with some ridiculous shenanigans and unbelievable asshattery before your turn. But remember: They didn’t tow your car. Save your indignation (if appropriate) for someone else. They really don’t give a shit, nor should they. Aside from that, they may appreciate the reprieve from teh crazies. This may not make much difference to you, but speaking as someone who works in the customer service industry, some days it’s nice to have people who are simply not jerks talking to you. Not flirts or the Nicest People On Earth (OMG I LOVE your SWEATER), just non-jerks. Plus, think of your karma!

Ok, now a quick run down before this gets too long:

1. Make sure your car is actually at the impound lot you think. In Minneapolis, you can check online, provided you know your VIN or licence plate. You can always call, if it’s a private lot. But do this before leaving the house or calling a cab. What’s that? You don’t know your license plate number? HaaaaaaahaaReally? Ok, well NOW IS THE TIME. But if you really can’t memorize 6 CHARACTERS, put it in your phone or something.

2. Don’t cry/make a fool of yourself. Save that for natural disasters. You’ll only attract unwanted attention in one of the grossest places you’ll ever visit.

3. Speaking of which, here are some things to know about the physical environment of the impound lot/building (and every impound is the same in a few key areas):

– It will most likely be in a slightly remote area. Try not to think about all of the mafia killing scenes in abandoned industrial parks you’ve seen in movies throughout your very short life. You’re about to walk into one (though hopefully without Tony Soprano).

– It will smell weird. Try not to think about it.

– If you’re lucky there will be multiple lines open. If not, well… you didn’t have plans tonight did you, fool? Regardless of staffing, plan on over an hour wait. Much like the DMV and Vikings football, I find it’s helpful to have low expectations.

4. Unless the police have impounded your car for a reason aside from parking violations, you shouldn’t need to proof of insurance (which should be in the car anyway). The impound dude either won’t care, or will see in his computer program that you’re set and not breaking any laws. Still, never hurts to be prepared just in case. Also: showing the impound guy you have your shit together never hurts. (If a parking violation isn’t the case, the police/DMV should provide you with the right information. If not? CALL THE IMPOUND LOT AND ASK. The LAST thing you want is to have to leave and return. It’s simply embarrassing, aggravating and unnecessary.)

5. If the impound does need more paperwork, they should make it Very Clear what additional paperwork/documentation that is. If not, ask exactly what you need to bring back to get your car out, and if faxes/photocopies/email attachments will work. Again, attitude is important. In my most recent case, my new plates hadn’t completely processed yet, but the receipt was in the car (as the DMV instructed – I’ll take my merit badge now, thankyouverymuch) so Impound Guy held on to my ID and gave me a piece of paper that allowed security to take me to and from my car for the one piece of paper. I grabbed my insurance just in case while I was out there.

Finally, it’s going to hurt, financially. But that’s the point. The city/private lot doesn’t want to tow your car, they want you to pay attention to the posted (or not…) laws. At least it’s not missing or stolen or totaled. Get over it.

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One Response to “So You have to Go the Impound Lot: A Helpful Guide”

  1. Jen November 10, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    Printing and putting in wallet. And LOLing.

    A friend of mine once got his car towed at 11:30pm and found out about it around 12:30 or 1am. He had to pay for 2 days of storage at the impound. Another thing to note. Get your car quickly, and don’t be an idiot late at night.

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