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Fuel

Blagg the Axman / August 22, 2007 11:44 AM

I once witnessed a pitched debate between a constable and a hog-farmer, in from the country to sell his fatted pigs at market-day. The farmer apparently had elected to park his wagon in the flower bed of the mayor’s wife, and despite the constable’s best efforts, he was unable to communicate to the farmer understand the full gravity of the situation. Things did not improve when a pig got loose and rooted up half the yard before he was captured by several red-faced members of the town guard, while the mayor’s wife looked on, shrieking all the while. These, of course, were simpler times, before shadow fell over this land and men’s dreams were wrung from their hearts by the Dark Lord Kayne’s cold hands.

Leelah / August 22, 2007 11:47 AM

Oh, I've got this one...
Worst parking ticket story? I got the boot for having three tickets... only I got the boot in the parking lot of my school. Once a year the city comes into school parking lots and nails the teachers (they don't go into the student lot). Imagine teaching your class and having a kid run in to tell you "They're putting an orange sticker on your car!"

The best part? I had already paid for two of the tickets, but I paid online and accidentally put in the same ticket number twice. What did the city of Chicago do? Oh, they gave me a $50 credit, then doubled the fine on the other ticket for non-payment. I had challenged the third, which was a ticket for not having a front plate, only I HAD a front plate, it was just mashed into my grill because of a car accident. I had sent in photos and documentation, and I thought it was taken care of since i never heard back.

Other ticket? I once got pulled over and ticketed for honking my horn on the expressway. (I was honking at the gaper who had slowed down to 35 to watch a cop giving someone a ticket.)

jen / August 22, 2007 11:55 AM

I see someone was reading the discussion going on over at yelp...

I will say again, there is a place on my street where the curb is yellow. This place is near the intersection, but parking there as far back as you can in no way obstructs either the intersection or pedestrian traffic. I got a ticket for parking there late one night of course (Logan Square on the whole has good parking, yes. Whipple north of Diversey? No no no no no.) OK, fine. Have I ever seen a single other car parked there, particularly one very large black SUV, ever get a ticket? Nope.

Steve / August 22, 2007 11:56 AM

My worst? That would have to be the events that transpired after I sold a total beater with expired plates to someone without removing the plates, which were held on with rubber cement, back in March 1997. I figured that what with being expired and all, they were just junk anyway. Oops.

Flash forward about six months and I get several envelopes from the city -- one telling me that I owe on 17 parking tickets, and another letting me know that my former car had been impounded. Yep, the dude who bought my car knew better than me, left my old plates on, racked up a mess of tickets, then let the car get taken in after it was booted. (I never got the notices because the DOR's mail had a "do not forward" notice on it, and I moved not too long after selling the car.)

But I wasn't worried, because I know that we (me and the buyer) had transferred the title to the vehicle. Surely if I could prove this fact in parking court, the fines would be reassigned to the guy who owned the car at the time, right?

Wrong 'em boy-o. In the second-sickest financial pounding of my life (the first being the time that a third-party ATM lost yet somehow cashed an $1100 security deposit check that I was depositing, debiting my former landlord without crediting me), the judge basically ruled that I was a dumbass, and that even though the car was clearly owned by someone else at the time of the offenses (which she verified), the tickets go to the plate, not the registration. Almost two weeks' worth of take-home pay down the drain in the blink of an eye, what with the tickets all doubling and all that.

Almost as bad -- the judge read through all 17 counts and her finding in open court. I tried to stop her after the third or fourth one because there was a long line behind me, but she just took her sweet time reading through them.

On the mildly positive side, I did get a lot of sympathy from the people behind me in line as I went to go pay the tickets off. (The car, presumably, was crushed into a cube.)

skafiend / August 22, 2007 12:11 PM

Ticket story 1: I got in my car one morning to drive to work, about three cars ahead of the cop giving out tickets for street cleaning that was set to begin that morning at 9 a.m. (He was giving out tickets at about 8:45 am, but that's another story). Apparently pissed that he couldn't give me a ticket, the dumbass came back the next day and gave me a ticket for not moving on street cleaning day, but Idiot Cop wrote the current date, not the date of the acutal street cleaning. I sent the ticket in challenging it, told them there there was no street cleaning that day and the ticket was thrown out.

Ticket story 2: I was parked on Clark street across from the Century Theater. Because of people with no idea how to park, combined with poor parking meter layout, I fed the meter that I thought was for my car. I got a ticket anyway because apparently I fed the wrong meter. I challenged this ticket as well, taking photo of the street and Photoshopping some arrows to show how the meters were spaced in a way that it was difficult to tell which meter went with which car (the spaces were meant for one car per meter but were so big two cars can get into them and that's just what was and is happening). Beat that ticket too.

Ticket story 3: Just bought the sticker for my license plate and for the window. A day or two later someone stole both (what I get for having a Jeep Wrangler with zip-up windows). I got tickets for not having stickers. This made it my 2nd and 3rd ticket and I was booted. Before I could get the cash to pay for all of that, I was towed. Had to beg, borrow and almost steal the money to get my car out of the pound a day or two later, a financial hole that I think I'm still trying to get straight.

skafiend / August 22, 2007 12:20 PM

Oh, snap, Steve...

that was the other part of getting my car towed. I had forgotten about an old semi-beater I had that was towed off the street and presumably to the pound about two or three years earlier. It had a few tickets on it for not being moved or something, but the city had it and I figured, hey, we're even. HA! When I went go pay to get my Jeep out of the pound, they also added in the tickets (now doubled) and towing and impound fees of the OTHER car, adding another $400 or so to what I thought the fee was. I almost started crying like a baby right there in City Hall...

Clarke / August 22, 2007 12:21 PM

I fell victim to bewildering side street parking regulations on July 4 on the Gold Coast, Scott St. I think...

No parking on Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, and on holidays 10am to 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.

This is exactly what the sign said. So is is 9-5 on holidays or 10-3? Neither, it is no parking in that spot ever on holidays. Desperate for a spot (since I had been driving the streets for 20 minutes and had used every foul word created) and unwilling to pay the ransom to park in a garage, I found this spot, thinking I was ok after 5pm at the latest. One trip to the lot under Randolph St. and $130 later I got the car back.

One good story though...Sister said I could park in her apt complex's lot. Turns out that was wrong. Car was in the process of being hooked to the tow when I ran down to the lot and told the driver I would move the car -- he gladly dropped the tow and went on his way. Every time I tell that one to someone familiar with Chicago parking, they either say "bullsh--" or that it must've been the driver's first or last day on the job.

beaan / August 22, 2007 12:35 PM

In a hurry to get to work for a meeting one morning I rolled through a stop sign. I got tickets for that, not wearing a seatbelt, and having expired insurance.
Halfway to work on LSD the AC blew up, shredding a belt and causing me to lose my power steering.
I finally got to work only to find out that the meeting had been canceled.

anon / August 22, 2007 12:44 PM

I do not own a car, yet, I have a story.

Chicago Avenue from Fairbanks to LSD. There's a wee little sign posted in a space that's already no parking. It says No Parking 7-9AM, 4-6PM. This little tiny sign means both sides of the street for the entire block. The police come out every afternoon and ticket at 4 on the dot. I can watch this from work. Sometimes they come back and ticket again. I've even seen them tow a few cars. The towing seems a bit random, but the ticketing happens every day.

carrie / August 22, 2007 12:53 PM

Let me start by saying parking in front of hydrants is OK. But...

I was in the car with my mom once and she double parked to run into a bagel store. Flashers were on, I was in the car (passenger seat), but we were double parked in front of a hydrant. Cop comes up- "where's the driver?" Me- "she's in there, she'll be out soon" Him- "you've got to move this" Me (deer caught in headlights b/c who doesn't drive stick? yeah me)- "um, well I don't know how to drive stick. She'll be out in a few" Him- "move it or you're getting a ticket" Me- "umm"

As he's walking to the back of the car to write the plate number, I'm climing to the drivers side to at least attempt to move it. I put it in gear, he's shaking his head and then hands me the ticket.

My mom actually yelled at me for not moving the car (yes, she was the one who parked it and knew I couldn't drive it), wouldn't even try to fight the ticket and made me pay for it. I'm still a little mad about it 10 years later.

K / August 22, 2007 12:58 PM

Steve, I think you win.

1) Ticketed for no city sticker when I wasn't a Chicago resident

2) Ticketed and towed from a no parking from 8-4 on school days zone during the summer. The street was packed with cars without incident for most of the summer but during a Cubs game half the street was towed. Because I was towed I had to set a court date to contest the ticket. I was told I should have known not to park there during summer school. Anyone ever heard of summer school for grade school? Suggested the sign should have said no parking M-F 8-4 but the judge couldn't have cared less.

3) Parked my car around 5 am on a Saturday. There were no parking restriction signs. And I don't mean I missed them or they were poorly marked...they weren't there. Came back at 10:30 AM to find the street littered with temporary no parking signs and the streets being cleared by tow trucks. Fortunately they hadn't made it to my car yet.

4) Ticketed for no front license plate while parked on a residential street. I had recently had the front end of my car repaired and the repair shop lost the plate. I contested the ticket because I was waiting for the replacement from the state. City didn't care so I had to pay $50 for someone else's mistake.

Because my car isn't registered in the city, I now add up the bogus tickets I get each year and if it's more than a city sticker I feel I've made my contribution for the year and skip the sticker.

Liz / August 22, 2007 1:24 PM

-NEVER- buy a city sticker if your car is registered in a different city or state. You are not obligated to, so F them!

mike / August 22, 2007 1:24 PM

I was fresh out of college and I landed my first job. Decided to go buy my first car. Brought my brand new car home on a Sunday night and parked it in my apartment lot. Walked out the next morning and it was gone. Towed. Because I didn't yet have a sticker to park in the lot.

Shasta / August 22, 2007 1:32 PM

One of my relatives has handicap parking in front of their house. There is clear signage saying not to park there, but someone decided to anyway. Why my relative got home, they couldn't find a place to park, so they called the local police. That car got towed AND a $250 ticket for parking in a handicapped space. Not the worst story, but I was shocked at how much that ticket was. Dang.

fluffy / August 22, 2007 1:58 PM

I've talked my way out of tickets about 50% of the time. I act like I'm going to have a nervous breakdown and start crying.

Once, I got stopped by a cop in Texas because of my expired plate sticker. I was underage, didn't have my drivers license with me, had no proof of insurance, had 2 cases of beer in the trunk (which they never knew about) which my underage passengers and I had just purchased from a liquor store that sold to anyone with a fake id. I didn't get a ticket. Why? Cause I was lucky to get a pig of a cop who let me go because I was wearing a super cute mini dress with thigh high boots and I gave him my phone number. OINK!

cliff on rosedale / August 22, 2007 2:24 PM

I had just gone through hell (aka DuPage/Wheaton Courts) clearing up my driving record and getting suspensions removed from license, taking the test to get an IL Drivers License (got my license revoked in WA for stupity), and was in the process of buying a car.

The company I worked for at the time approved me getting a rental car and when I went to pick it up, they upgraded me for free to a brand new Maxima. Pretty nice!

So I park on North Cannon in Lakeview after making sure that it was a legal parking space. What I didn't know and didn't see was the November to April Tow Notices for Snow routes.

I return the next morning and the car is GONE. Of all the times in my life I've been in trouble, I've never felt like this. I was hyperventilating, and sweaty. I had just fixed my DAMN license and then this happens!

Long story short, I had to go out to the Sacramento lot, pay $120 for the towing and $50 for the ticket.

I've gotten tickets and such since then, but that one was the worst...

mike-ts / August 22, 2007 2:28 PM

I usually drive to the city, then park, pull the bicycle out of the trunk, and cycle the rest of the way, or use the CTA. I had a favorite spot in front of Reebie on 14th and State. Parking there was stiff, but I was always able to get a spot. Well, one day about three years ago, I come back to see the street free of all parked cars - No Parking signs were posted in my absence, and all cars got towed. After going to the lot on lower, lower, lower Wacker Drive (comparable to going to the Land of the Dwarves in Middle Earth), I just got the car and left. You can't fight City Hall.

Since then, I always wonder if my car is there when I get back. I don't worry about thieves (I drive a beater p.o.s., plus thieves seldom drive stick, so they wouldn't get far); it's the government that worries me.

p.s.: they used to have ticket amnesty periods, years back, when if you pay an overdue ticket within a time window, they'd wave additional fines and late fees and just charge face value. Is that ever coming back?

d. / August 22, 2007 2:43 PM

once i got towed for parking in the wrong lot while picking up a quick lunch.

a $6.00 burrito quickly turned into like a $206 burrito! the bitter taste of agony wrapped up in a flour tortilla shell. nooo!

i know, boring story. but whatever! i saw both al roker and danny glover at airports randomly on vacation, so THERE. that should make up for it.

eep / August 22, 2007 3:18 PM

And I thought my no-park Oak Park stories were bad...

Still, that crap town has made me pay nearly $1000 in parking stickers and tickets since I moved there three and a half years ago. I can't wait to move next month to a town with NO parking ordinances.

Jill / August 22, 2007 3:19 PM

d,
I've had something similar. I went to 600 N. Michigan to catch "Good Will Hunting." Thought I could park along Ohio (it was Sunday, I thought the street was open). Tow truck comes up, and the guy yells out the window, "Uh Ah, uh ah." I didn't know (or want to know) what that meant, so I continued on.

Movie's sold out. I go back to my car and it's in the process of being towed...and the tow guy yelled at me for thinking he was hitting on me. How about being more clear, buddy?

Point is, "Good Will Hunting" isn't worth $258.

Jill / August 22, 2007 3:23 PM

Oh, and my favorite ticket story? I took my car to the mechanic for some work, one of their guys drove it around the city during the day and got a parking ticket. That was a nice surprise in the mail.

skafiend / August 22, 2007 4:06 PM

one other story...

was on on a date with someone I had recently met (2nd, 3rd). she was driving and I told her it was OK to part in a particular spot. Lincoln Park Towing yanked the car and I paid for the cab to get there and paid to get the car out, since I'm the one who told her it was OK to park there, effectively wiping out all the money I had for the date.

Meems / August 22, 2007 5:01 PM

I left my car parked overnight at a meter near Clark and Chicago because I was too drunk to drive and I knew I'd get a ticket. When I finally got to it the next day there were two tickets on it written within 90 minutes of each other. Well I paid one and fought the second saying since it's a 2 hour meter I should only be able to get a ticket once every 2 hours. I won.

Then, my boyfriend was mildly retarded when it came to remembering to watch for no parking times or he'd just get lazy and not move it. He got towed at least 4 times in a year and I was sick of it. One day I'm walking home from the train and I see a cop parked behind his car. I ran to our apartment, grabbed the spare key, ran back to the car, and threw the key in the door as a tow truck was backing up. I flashed him a smile and some cleavage, and he just nodded and drove away.

I told my boyfriend he owed me $300.

lori / August 22, 2007 5:39 PM

this happened to a friend of mine- she went to Foster Beach with kids, one of whom was a little baby at the time, and parked in the lot. She came back after their day at the beach, kids tired, hungry, wet and sandy, to find that her car had the boot.

bastards!

Samantha / August 22, 2007 5:43 PM

I once parked in a spot that had a concrete stop painted with the word "ATM" on it. I used the ATM, but then some friends of mine were walking by and we started to chat about 10 feet from the machine.

Suddenly, one of them says "Hey, is that your car getting towed?". I rush over, argue with the tow truck driver that I had JUST gotten done with the ATM. He said "How much did you take out?" I ended up giving him $150 in cash to unhook my car.

Know where it went? Wadded up and shoved in the pocket of his jeans. No receipt. Freakin' crooks.

Kelly / August 23, 2007 8:23 AM

Well, I've only lived in the city a year and already have about 20 of these stories to share - but here's the best:

I live in Wrigleyville and pay for a city sticker and a parking permit sticker each year. The permit sticker doesn't do much good as the Cubs fans take all the spots anyway, but hey - it's the thought that counts. A few weekends ago I cam home late Friday night and parked at the corner of Southport and Grace per usual. I always check every tree, fence, bush etc. for signs indicating some random no parking exception and there were none to be found. I wake up the next morning and head out to my car - only to find that there is a line of port-a-pottys where it was once parked. Apparently there was a "Yay Wrigleyville" block party going on and that whole street was towed to make way for the toilets. Did I mention that there were no signs posted?!?! So a $20 can ride and $160 in towing costs later - I got my car back. Nice.

Jim / August 23, 2007 9:16 AM

My worst towing story... My car was missing off the street so I called the city and found out it had been taken to the pound at California and Chicago for being "a danger" or something similar.

When I got to the pound, the car was way in the back, which is unusual for only being there a day or so. When we got to my car it was just the sheel. Someone set it on fire. What's worse is that it was an old old Volkswagen convertible beetle that was in great shape that I spent several years maintaining and improving. So not only did I lose my car, but a lot of my time, a hobby and a bit of my heart along the way.

I never expected to see the car burnt down to the shell at the impound lot so it was a complete shock. At least I didn't have to pay anything at the lot.

Utimately the car was insured but it was irreplaceable.

Emm / August 23, 2007 9:29 AM

I had borrowed my ex's car for the weekend while she was out of town. I came home and found the street towed--no signs in the morning, but apparently the school decided to unload all their new goods for the school year. I had to get her from the airport *or else*, so I called to find out what I'd need to get the car out before she got home--notarized statement, etc... scrambling to find a notary over Labor Day weekend? Not pretty. I had to call her hungover ass on Sunday to get the VIN and/or plates to find the car in the system. I was hung up on twice, finally got the VIN and some pretty choice remarks about our (ex-) relationship; then the city couldn't find the car, 311 couldn't find the car, but finally some good soul *did* find the car--they had moved it down the street and it only had a $50 ticket on it.

On the other hand, my scooter has had more tickets in 6 months (don't count the winter) than gas refills. I've contested most of them and won, and have been the repeated victim of "my boss is over there and I have to ticket you anyway" bogus ticketing.

Sol / August 23, 2007 9:30 AM

Wow. I am so thankful that a) I don't have a car anymore, and b) when I did, I had VA plates.

And all my worst parking/ticket/towing stories happened in Boston, so they don't really apply here. That city is the 9th ring of parking hell compared to Chicago.

paul / August 23, 2007 12:43 PM

Sol's right, Boston is ridiculous. I drove there a few times a month as a messenger and once almost got towed while I was still in the car!!

I'll reserve moving violation ticket stories for another time, but I have the usual story of sludging down to the pound in freezing weather with just enough cash, only to find that they've added more on to the fine cause of no sticker (I don't live in Chicago, just work there) so I go home and wait for another paycheck to pay for another week of fines.

I had a roomate once who had racked up over 10 grand worth of tickets. No joke.

I had a rental car towed, and it took three days for them to find it, since I didn't remember the plate.

I just got a notice for a parking ticket I got in 2002 on street I never heard of.

Taylor / August 23, 2007 5:44 PM

I easily racked up somewhere in the ballpark $500 worth of street cleaning fines when I lived on Christiana Ave near Irving Park when I first moved to Chicago. I worked a second shift job and would be going outside around 3 am or so for a cigarette before bed. No orange signs up and down the street to speak of. The next morning I'd roll out of bed around 11 am or so and look outside to see the dreaded orange signs lining the side of the street (where I likely parked) and a nice matching orange envelope stuck on my car. 48 hours notice my fucking ass.

Sadly, I was too ignorant back then to realize I could have likely fought the tickets off so I just blindly paid them as I got them. My current neighborhood has permanent street cleaning signs and they still manage to get the orange ones up 48 hours before the cleaning occurs.

Recently, I received notice in the mail that I was parked in a no parking zone, but never saw a ticket placed on my car. If I recall what I was doing at the time of the violation I had had my flashers on and had run into my girlfriend's apartment for a minute. I thought about fighting that one, but figured there was no way to get out of it.

I hate parking tickets.

Anne / August 23, 2007 6:24 PM

Years ago, my car was towed and when I went to pick it up, the lot couldn't find it. The city LOST my car for almost two months. When they finally found it in a different lot, I had to pay $50/day storage to get my car out, never mind that the "storage" was completely their fault.

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