Had a little scare last night thinking my car was stolen...I even put a quick post up about it this morning. Did you see it? It was up for about a half hour, until my gut instinct told me to call again and see if it had been towed. Yep. So, false alarm. If you read my "stolen car" post, well, consider it a collector's item. I deleted it. ;-)
But, I figured, why not take this opportunity to present Lesson Number Two of Behind the Wheel in Rome: Be Careful Where You Park.
Last night I went to a friend's birthday party and drove around the block for 20 minutes looking for parking. The situation was getting desperate. I saw one car wedged in at a 45-degree angle, another bumping up the curb to park on the sidewalk. So, when I saw a spot just around a corner, I was so exausted, I took it. It was behind a row of cars, all lined up neatly.
When I got back about 3 1/2 hours later, my car was nowhere to be found. Turns out it had been towed by the city, but when we called last night, they told us it hadn't been towed, hence my stolen car scare. I found out it actually had been towed when I called again this morning, just to be sure. So, good news is the car wasn't stolen. Bad news was yet to come. How much was this little parking lesson going to cost me?
I rode public transport for an hour to get to the depot where they leave the cars whose owners made a little driving boo-boo like I had. To my relief, when I arrived I found a sprawling parking lot not unlike those huge ones at the airport, full of row upon lettered row of cars. Well, at least I'm not the only one who doesn't know how to park properly.
When I got up to the window to pay, the lady said I needed to show her my libretto. Ok. Now. I know this is a document that goes in that folder where you keep all your important car documents. The trick was going to be figuring out which one it was.
You see, "libro" in Italian means book. When they add "etto" to the word, it makes it little. So, bring me your "little book." Um, yeah. Not really helping me out here. I was trying to call back all those boring hours of driving lessons, but I was drawing a complete blank, and couldn't really remember which document it was.
I know this will sound like a very "blonde moment" (even though I cover it with a beautiful shade of henna :-), but I just brought over all the important-looking papers I could find in the car, obviously none of which really resembled anything close to a little book. In Italy, you have to display your insurance on the windshield, and it's usually a normal sheet of paper folded up like 6 times over and stuffed into a little plastic envelope. So there were like 3 of those. And some other stuff.
I start holding one up.
Me: "Is it this?"
Tow-truck lady: "No."
Tow-truck lady: "NO. And how am I supposed to know when you've got all your documents folded up into a million little pieces?"
Alrighty then! Excuuuuse me if you people can't spring to add a little perforation action around here. Luckily a tow truck driver stepped in and saved the day by finding the right paper, and the lady started processing my bill. Turns out my car was parked on a corner where a bus couldn't get by, so that's why they towed it. Oops.
This turned out to be quite an expensive lesson. 100 euros to get the car out of the land of tow-truckdom. Then, the traffic cops had left me a little greeting card on my windshield, which asks me to send them 77 euros. Man, oh, man. Not the best day. My potential Christmas gifts are starting to look kinda shabby...
So, when in Rome, if you really must drive a car, may you always be blessed with finding a valid, legal parking space. It's akin to a small miracle. Speaking of which, it did happen once, in a classic Finny video at the end of this post.