近海る (Kin Kairu)

JET, Japan, Journalism and other J words

The Woes of Snow Part 2

Read part 1 here

It was 9 p.m. the night of the snowstorm. We ended up with about 11 inches by the time everything came through. When Chris and I finally got word that the state had opened up the only major highway out of the city, we decided to grab our stuff, head down to my car and attempt to make the trip right then and there. Our interview was the next day, of course.

But my car wasn’t there.

At all.

100% gone.

Chris and I both sat there, absolutely shocked. What happened to it? Did someone take it? Was it towed? Where was it? Millions of questions rushed through my mind in a matter of seconds, but there was only one thing my body implicitly did. I grabbed my phone and called every towing company in the city. Every single one of them said that they did not have my car.

I immediately called both the city and county police stations to see what I could do. At this point, I honestly thought my car was stolen. They promptly told me that towing companies did not have to contact anyone if they happened to tow a car and they would “eventually” turn in a list of cars they towed to the police departments. “How long would that take?” I asked. “Could be up to a day or so,” the officer replied. While I was about verbally tear down the officer I was talking to, I knew that he wasn’t the culprit. They were just waiting for the information as well. Through the sheer lack of information, I only really had one choice. I decided I was going to file a missing vehicle report.

But I was interrupted by an incoming phone call.

“Hi, uh, is this Kyle?”
“Yes.”
“I’m (name forgotten) from (also forgotten) towing, and we have your car.”
“Ok, great. I’m going to come and pick it up now.”
“Well, uh, I actually can’t let you do that.”
“…why not?”
“Cause we open at 9 a.m. You can come pick it up then.”

This guy basically told me that they stole my car and were holding it for ransom until it was most convenient for them. When I prompted them as to exactly why my car was taken, while every single other car on the hill was still there, I was told it was in the way of a Semi-truck.

While furious, there was nothing I could do at this point. Even when I walked back to my house, (my roommates in a hysterical fit because of the comedy of errors that was unfolding before them) I could barely even think about anything else. I hardly even slept due to the frustration, even though I knew I was going to be able to get my car and head off to my interview the next day. We were able to get in touch with the Japanese Consulate in Chicago and explain our situation. Luckily, there were two open spots for the upcoming Saturday (other unfortunate souls that couldn’t make it because of the storm) and we set our new dates.

The next morning, we called for a taxi to come and pick us up and go get my car. I remember talking to our driver, who was actually the owner of the particular taxi service, about the immense amount of people that needed to get rides that morning. “The only time those damn towing companies make money is when a storm decides to hit,” he said. Our shared disgust enlightened me with a certain bit of clarity, but it didn’t make it any more right, I thought.

When we arrived, there was a mix of emotions when I finally saw my car.  Of course, I was happy to see that it wasn’t “stolen” (quotes on purpose), but the rage I felt over the utter inconvenience these people put me through was quickly overriding the former.  Chris and I walked into the shed, that was improperly labeled as an office, and talked with the woman working the front desk.

Again, I asked, “Why did you tow my car?”

Not even looking at me, she said, “because the state police told us so.”

Before this, I had many family and friends tell me that I had a full right to go off on these people, but there was always an addition to the advice: “they simply don’t care.” They were totally right.  While I had the words in my throat, I just couldn’t come to let myself lash out like that.  Punching walls does a lot more damage to the fists than it does the stone.

I paid the required $250 (yep, ended up being that much) without saying anything else and went out to start up the car.  That is until we all discovered the battery had died.  Luckily the dude working the lot was cool enough to jump my car and get it out of the fresh snow pile that covered my car (better have for how much I paid).

Then we finally left.  Finally.

Minor Epilogue:  As I was sitting in the waiting area at the Consulate in Chicago, I was overly nervous.  In fact, I don’t think I had ever been that nervous in my life.  This was my first real big job interview, after all.  When the secretary finally called my name, and escorted me to my panel room, there were two women and a man sitting behind a table.  One woman at the front of the room stood up and pointed her hand towards a chair.  “You may sit down here, Kyle.”  Somehow, my brain interpreted this as a totally different gesture and I stretched out my hand to give her a firm handshake.  The look on her face was one of total surprise and not a good one at that.  ‘Well, if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down with honor,” I told myself.  I promptly shook everyone’s hands and sat down, and thus grilled as to exactly why I wanted to give up my American life and move to Japan.

It’s kind of funny, because Chris was actually asked during his interview about a time where he was under a lot stress and needed to be flexible (guess what story he told).  I, however, was never asked such a question.  Maybe my interview panel knew about my previous situation or perhaps they had no idea whatsoever.

I must have done something right, because I’ll be there in exactly a month.

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