“Have you seen my car?”



This is no way to locate an automobile. The fact that my automobile needs locating in the first place is not good. Maybe my car is in the same spot it was the previous night, just hidden in the midst of the road workers’ mess. Maybe not.

Perhaps it’s just my naivetZ, but I had, until this moment, been under the impression that there was supposed to be some amount of warning before they tore holes in the road where your car is parked. One of my roommates had been similarly victimized before.

“Call the police.” The police stole my car, apparently.

I looked up the number and dialed. The police told me to call the CHP. I knew it. Super-police – the kind that need neither rights nor reason, arrest first and ask questions later. I didn’t know how much I wanted to deal with these monkeys, but I needed my car.

“I’d like to report a stolen vehicle.”

“You should call the police station in the area where the car was, not the Highway Patrol,” the officer on the other end of the line said. When he said the words “Highway Patrol,” I could hear him try to make his voice deeper. Dork.

“I already did. They said you stole my car.” We’d start the conversation on my ground.

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, my car was parked across the street from my apartment last night, and when I got up this morning, it was gone. Now there’s a bunch of hairy guys in orange vests.”

“It sounds like your car was towed for being parked in an area marked for road work.”

“Marked for road work? I might be wrong, but I don’t think I parked on top of any cones or signs or anything of the sort. I mean, I drive a Civic; if I ran into a cone, I’d just bounce off it. There certainly weren’t any big signs that I parked next to, either.” This was going nowhere; there was no reasoning with these savages. “So what’d you do with my car? Black market? Police auction? Illegitimate monster truck rally?”

“It’s been towed. Try Smitty’s Towing.”

“Thanks, Superman.” Click. I would’ve loved to ruin that punk’s day the way mine was, but he probably didn’t do it himself. Those stations are set up so that no one does anything themselves. The cycle of delegation and responsibility is unfathomable.

I got a ride out to Smitty’s. The guy at the counter looked exactly the way Smitty sounds.

“Can I help you?” Polite, too. Isn’t that sweet.

“You took my car.” It’s too early to be polite unless you’re already as sweaty as Smitty or whatever underling this is. “I’d like it back, please.” It’s hard to stay angry when every person involved was just doing his job. But when all the people just taking orders seem to be contributing to that already disturbing “student ghetto” feeling of Isla Vista, it gets easier. I’m a sucker, though, and don’t want to ruin Smitty’s day.

“That’ll be a hundred fifty-seven bucks.”

“What? Did you paint it? Am I getting a new car? What’s the hundred-fifty for?”

“Hundred fifty-seven. For towing your car.”

“I don’t remember agreeing to pay you to tow my car.”

“Want it back?” He’s got me there. So here I am, somehow even poorer than I was before, and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s a wonderful feeling when you know the system stopped having the decency to even use lube. I wouldn’t be able to sit down for days.

The moral? I wish there were one, but I think it would just be this: Welcome home to Isla Vista, boy!

Cory Anthony is the Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor. Yes, he knows there are a lot of nice, helpful police officers. But none of them wanted to give him his$157 back either.