In our little town, there are diagonal parking spaces along the main streets instead of parking lots, but when it snows, I do not like to park along the street. I don't like the idea that someone could easily slide into the side of my car, or the fact that the snow plows would bury my poor, freezing Jenny. Instead, I "borrow" a spot in the Happy Joe's/Subway/Dollar General lot for the day, and when I do this, I make sure to spend money at one of those places so that technically speaking, I am a customer using their lot.

On Tuesday, after I left work, I found a note on Jenny's windshield tucked under the driver's side wiper. Thinking it was probably an advertisement for something going on in town, I slipped it from under the wiper and opened it, prepared to grin and tuck it away. Instead, I was shocked to find a hand-written note with my first and last name printed in large letters at the top. The rest of the note informed me that I had parked on private property and that I had cost three business owners $80.00 that day in lost revenue. It proceeded to tell me that I needed to hand my address over to the business owners so that I could be billed for the $80.00 that I had cost. The note's wording did not sound professional, and the tone of the note was distinctly angry. I could not read the scrawled signature at the bottom of the page.

Since the parking lot is a block away from a small college, I first thought that this must be a practical joke from a college student. But how did this person get my name? Then I wondered, if it is really from these three businesses, can they legally bill me for lost revenue since my car was parked on their private property? The more I thought about this, the more disturbed and frightened I became. The cute, little police station is across the street from my work, so I decided to take the note in there and see if they could give me some insight into whether I should really be scared or not.

I handed the note to a uniformed, young receptionist with short, blond curls, and I said, "This note was on my windshield just now. I'm not sure what to think about it, but I'm a little worried about the fact that someone I don't know has my name. What do you think?"

She read the note, and then looked at me with something like panic in her light blue eyes. "I am SO sorry!" She informed me. "I was the one who gave your name out. Oh, I'm sorry!" She hesitated, then said, "I'm not sure what to do about this note. I'm going to give it to an officer. I think I heard one just pull up outside. Do you mind waiting a minute?"

"Sure, no problem." I replied. I stood in the waiting area by the reception desk and watched through the Plexiglas as she took the note into the back. She spoke with two officers, one of which read the note and began shaking his head. He walked into the waiting area and said, "Would you mind coming with me, miss?"

I followed him into a small room, wondering just how much trouble I could possibly be in for parking in a business-owned parking lot. We sat in some plastic chairs at a small table, and he put his head into his hands, his elbows on the table. He sighed. Finally, he spoke, "I am so disappointed. So disappointed."

I waited.

"First of all, I want to apologize to you on behalf of the police force. Our receptionist gave your name out, and she should never have done that." He shook his head, and his soft-looking brown hair did not stir. "Her mother works at Subway, and I suppose they used that connection to get this information from her. The caller, Craig," he indicated the note, and I realized part of the signature must have said Craig, "told her that he needed to ask one of his employees to move his car, but he did not know which employee the car belonged to. So he read the license plate number to Chris, and she gave him your name. She thought you worked for Craig." (Well, I do, but not for this Craig!) "And she thought he was just going to walk over to you and ask you to move your car, not leave a nasty note like this! I am very sorry, and she is devastated. She should never have given your name out."

"Oh," I brilliantly stated.

"So as far as safety is concerned," he continued, "that's how he got your name, and I know him. You have nothing to worry about. Now as far as legalities go," he rubbed his thick mustache, "we're not so lucky there. Nothing about this situation is legal, and the note is also completely inappropriate. I am so disappointed. So disappointed."

Well, so was I for that matter. I wondered what was going to be done about it, but I wasn't sure how to word that question without sounding pushy, after all, I had also illegally parked on private property...although, I had been a Subway customer on my lunch break, I wanted to remind everyone.

The officer continued rubbing his brownish, pumpkin colored mustache, and he continued to tell me how disappointed he was in Craig, in his department, in the world in general, I guess. Finally, he said, "I'd like to keep a copy of your note, if you don't mind. I plan to address my officers on this subject at our staff meeting tonight. This cannot continue."

"Continue?" I questioned.

"Yes." He explained, "Normally, if a car is parked in a questionable location, and a party calls regarding that car, an officer is supposed to go to the car and leave either a ticket or a warning note, or find the person and ask them to move their car. However, recently, we've been allowing the calling party to ask the person to move. We're going to have to put a stop to that." He rubbed his mustache some more, and I studied the fine lines around his eyes. I watched as he thought of something else, probably the added time his officers would have to spend to personally attach a note to every windshield of every phone call that came in, and I saw his expression change. "I'm definitely thinking of bringing that up at the staff meeting tonight." He rephrased his earlier decision. "We'll probably for sure need to stop doing that."

I noted the change in definite-ness in his wording, and I wondered out loud, as passively as I could, "So you're for sure going to tell your officers to stop giving names out, and you're going to talk to Craig about his note?"

"Well, I'd like to keep this note business under our hats, if you don't mind," he backtracked. "You see, we are just as much at fault here at the station as Craig was with his inappropriate note." (I was glad to hear that my name wasn't listed in the at-fault list, even though I HAD illegally parked.)

"So you're not going to tell Craig that his threatening note was illegal?" I questioned again, hopefully gently. "You're not going to tell him that it's okay to write a nice note asking the person to not park there anymore, or informing the person that he will be calling the police if it happens again, but that he should not write another note like this one?"

"Well, I'd rather drop the whole thing since we were the ones who originally gave your name out," he responded.

Now, I know when my luck has run out, and this appeared to be the time for it to happen. So I said, "Thank you, Officer. I really appreciate your time with me, and I'm very glad that I'm not in any danger, and that I am not expected to hand my address over for billing purposes!" I smiled as I stood up and shook his hand, but inside I was seething. How dare the police give my name out to just anyone who makes up a story! How dare that Craig-guy write a threatening note to me...this is America! Yes, I used his parking lot illegally, but he could have called the police and asked them to give me a ticket...that's the way the justice system should have worked. Now, there's no justice happening at all, and Mr. Craig thinks he got away with threatening me!

I continued to seethe as I buckled my seat belt and navigated through the snowy street. I continued to seethe as I headed towards Kimmie's school to pick her up. I continued to seethe as I waited at the stop sign for another car to pass through the intersection. Finally, I flicked my right blinker on and headed back to the Subway parking lot. I was going to inform Craig that his note was illegal and inappropriate, if the police wouldn't!

To Be Continued...
1 Response
  1. wow thats interesting i never herd any ting about this befor

Post a Comment