Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Impound Lot

Have you ever spent a lovely morning at the vehicle impound lot. No!? Well then, let me offer you all a primer to survive the experience.

Impound Lot 101

Step 1
As you are happily driving along the streets of Brotherly Love, you see red lights flashing in your rear view mirror. As a good, law abiding citizen, you pull over, curious about what you have done wrong. You are greeted by a lovely gentleman, usually wearing a uniform, who, unbeknownst to you, informs you that your car registration sticker is not current and that a quick check of the vehicle on his on-board monitoring device indicates the registration has indeed expired.

Step 2
You will be asked to produce your proof of insurance. For this step, it is important to make sure that you have included the most recent copy among the records you carry in your vehicle. If not, you will get a calling card from the nice gentleman usually wearing a uniform. This calling card might also invite you to a gathering at a later date. An individual wearing a long robe and sporting a gavel will also attend.

Step 3
Please don’t panic when a tow truck pulls up along side of your vehicle. The nice gentleman, usually wearing a uniform, will inform you that your vehicle will be kept in a brightly lit, secure lot until you have the opportunity to sort through your administrative difficulties. As your car is being towed away, watch in complete stupefaction, unsure of what just happened.

Step 4
Hail a cab to take you home. Chances are in a city as big as Philadelphia, there is typically one available so you won’t be stranded on the streets of a major city late at night, where, sometimes, real crimes occur.

Step 5
Call a relation close to you, perhaps your mother, and explain the incident. This call will elicit an initial “are you ok?” response to which you should ALWAYS respond “yes.” Be prepared to answer a series of questions that will quickly follow. Make some quick, contemporaneous notes during the cab ride so you are prepared to answer these questions in a clear, coherent way.

Step 6
When you get home, log on to the appropriate Department of Transportation website and update your vehicle registration. Also, locate the correct insurance ID card because you will have to produce both when you appear in traffic court the next day to explain your clerical conundrum to a no-nonsense individual wearing a robe so she can order the release of your vehicle.

It is important to note that the brightly lit, secure lot where your car just spent a pleasant evening is located in a different section of the city five miles away and since someone else is driving, Miss Daisy can sit back and enjoy the riverside tour along the way.

Step 7
Before you proceed to the brightly lit, secure lot where your vehicle has spent a very pleasant evening, make sure that the registered owner of the vehicle is available to accompany you. And for heaven’s sake, don’t step onto the lot before you are invited to do so…that gaffe may delay the release process!

Step 8
After you pay the tow and storage fee of $235 – for your convenience, cash and all major credit cards are accepted –you will then be escorted to your car by a very nice person who has chided several individuals about stepping onto to the lot before invited to do so. You, of course, know the protocol and did not make such a blunder. The very nice person offers to scrape the impound evidence from your windshield with his handy-dandy scrapping tool. I wonder if it slices and dices as well.

Step 9
The very nice person at the gate of the brightly lit, secure lot where your car has just spent a lovely evening opens the barbed-wire clad gate and you are free to drive off. Oh, and don’t worry if you can’t pick your vehicle up within 15 days…the PPA will petition the Court for permission to sell it – problem solved and you won’t have to remember to renew your registration any more!

I hope you find this convenient 9-step reference guide helpful the next time you simply forget to renew your vehicle registration. Of course, you can always choose the easier route of renewing your registration when due but then there wouldn’t be an adventure to embellish with each telling…much more fun!

No photos of the actual process…we caused enough trouble and didn’t want to push our luck by appearing to be covert reporters. Quite an experience.

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