Moving Day & Brushes with the Law

We set out on Wednesday, January 4 to move Steven to Calgary. Steven stuffed his Jetta, and we pulled a borrowed trailer with some furniture and odds and ends. It wasn’t a particularly speedy trip, given that our Honda Element isn’t really a trailer-towing kind of vehicle, but we managed to get to Calgary just in time to enjoy rush hour.We moved Steven in and went out for supper to The Casbah, a Morrocan restaurant just a couple of blocks from Steven’s apartment. It was a neat experience, although I question whether the atmosphere justifies the $13 price tag on a bowl of couscous and a few vegetables. It was very fluffy, but come on, folks, it’s couscous; I could make that for about $0.13 in 13 seconds at home. Ah well.

When we got up in the morning, Irene and I walked over to the Starbucks just a 1/2 block from Steven’s to get some morning coffee, but when we got outside, I noticed that both vehicles and the trailer had been towed away from in front of Steven’s apartment. As it turns out, we had failed to notice that one of the three signs outlining parking restrictions said that it was a tow-away zone from 7-8 in the morning.

Needless to say, this is one of those circumstances in which one would really like to bite someone’s head off, but since the whole thing was our fault, there really wasn’t anything we could do but take our lumps. I started calling around 10 in the morning (SK time) to figure out how to get the vehicles back. Steven lives on 12th Ave SW, and the Calgary parking Authority compound is on 39th Ave. SE, so we walked downtown and caught the train to the compound.

We weren’t particulary thrilled about the situation, but we thought we would get out of it just losing a couple of hours and a big chunk of cash – WRONG!

The hitch (pardon the pun) came with the trailer. In order to release any “vehicle” the parking authority demands that one produce the registration AND provide a letter of authorization from the owner allowing for the release of the vehicle. We got the two cars out in an hour or so, but alas the trailer was going to be a bigger problem, because:

  • We didn’t have the registration, and
  • I knew that Dave, the owner of the trailer, was not at home.

Irene had the stroke of genius to contact the local licensing agency and ask if they would fax a copy of the registration. Of course, that’s not entirely kosher, but this is just one of those glaring examples of an advantage of small town living over city life. Now here’s where the story gets complicated. It appears that Dave, who has more than one utility trailer, somehow got the license plates mixed up. He actually had the wrong license plate on the trailer. The plate number on the registration did not match the plate on the trailer. But after an hour and a half or so, the agent faxed the registration and we finally made it through the lineups again, all to no avail. They wouldn’t release the trailer without a letter from the owner, not even when I explained that this would probably mean another 1,000 km of driving and another $70 in compound fees ($10/day).

By this time it was well into the afternoon, and I was ready to give up and head home without the trailer, but Irene thought we should continue to try to get hold of Dave. We also considered who we might be able to call to forge the letter, but we weren’t sure who we would ask to compromise their principles like that. So we went back to Steven’s and out for lunch, and afterward, while I tried to relax and reduce my blood pressure, Irene made countless phone calls. In the process she found out that Dave would be home by 6:00 p.m. She left a message on his message manager. Around 5:00 p.m., Dave called us back. He was kind enough to compose the letter right away and fax it.

So we made another trip down to the compound, but we were still very nervous that the license plate discrepancy would bite us in the butt. Fortunately the girls behind the counter were nearing the end of their shift. The one who took our case couldn’t stop yawning. She knew that there was something amiss, but she wasn’t in the mood to examine the documentation carefully enough to figure out what it was.

In the end here is the tally (not counting Steven’s car):

  • Portion of our lives we won’t get back – 9 hours

  • LRT tickets to the compound – $7

  • Parking Ticket – $38

  • Car towing – $56

  • Fee for unhitching the trailer (yup, you read that right) – $42

  • Various impound fees and taxes – $15

  • Trailer towing – $56

  • Impound fees and taxes on trailer – $12

  • Motel room in Medicine Hat (because we were late leaving Calgary) – $80

  • Lesson learned as a result of this experience – PRICELESS!

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