My older sister Janet bugged out of Greater Boston almost immediately upon her graduation from college, decamping for Greater Baltimore where she resides to this day. I was only a year out of school myself when a college housemate, John Sledge, resolved to wed the former Isabella Penna somewhere between Baltimore and our nation’s capital. ‘Twas an excellent connubial blow-out, as I recall, and naturally — being young and poor — I stayed with my sister for the weekend. One night she, some fellow Weskids and myself went out to the Fell’s Point warehouse district of Baltimore to see a Boston-based band we all loved, the one and only Dumptruck.
We were all too skint to have even considered flying the 800-odd miles to Baldimer, so for this junket I borrowed my dad’s newish Honda Accord to make the journey; surely it was more reliable than the shit-box ‘82 Accord I was driving at the time. In any case, my dad’s 4-door sedan was a sort of metallic taupe color, and I parked it on the street that night a block and a half from the club (the name of which escapes me). I don’t remember having parked illegally, or even on the edge of legality — though I pushed the envelope so frequently back then, it’s hard to rule it out.
I’ve mentioned this before in the course of my Great Moments in Towing series (see earlier entries here and here), but it bears repeating: This was 1987, an era well before the computerization of parking records. Accordingly, when one traveled out of state, there was little to no fear of some Baltimore parking cop running a search on my plates and discovering my laundry list of Boston-area parking violations, dozens of which surely languished in multiple file cabinets, unpaid, at the time. These were far more innocent times, in so many ways, and they frankly emboldened one to park, out of state, with an even greater degree of impunity.
In any case, after a predictably kickin’ show (search this site for Dumptruck to find additional, more in-depth references to this seminal, alt-country forebear), we all stumbled out of the club in the direction of my dad’s car. When we turned the corner, there was the tow dude, latching his mighty hook to the front undercarriage of a newish, metallic taupe-colored 1986 Honda Accord.
I broke into a run and upon arrival at the scene, commenced to begging and pleading with the guy to put the car down. How much will it cost me? Allow me to make it worth your while, good sir! Surely we can work something out!! … The tow dude was unmoved (they’re so rarely moved) and seeing as I was several beers to the good by this late hour, I quickly transitioned to a more outraged, aggressive and ultimately profane tone. The situation was deteriorating: Already 1 a.m. and the car (my dad’s car) only now being towed away. We were looking at another couple hours for retrieval, to say nothing of the cost — and the matter of delivering others back to my sister’s place, whilst I endured impoundment-lot purgatory.
Just about the time all this was sinking in (maybe as I whirled around in frustration, plotting my next fruitless, argumentative gambit), my eye happened to wander a few yards down the street and right there, three cars down, on the same side of the street, was the exact same car — make (Honda), model (4-door Accord LXi) and color (actually “Misty Beige”, according to my brother the car geek). I remember consciously pressing the pause button on my tirade, stepping back from the tow scene, a bit further into the street so I might see the rear plate: Massachusetts!
God love The Bay State. I looked at the tow guy, who was now looking at me — curious, no doubt, as to why I had stopped haranguing him. “You have a good night,” I told him. We piled into the car and got the hell out of there, feeling truly blessed. Way better than we’d ever have felt had we simply found the car directly and driven away without incident.