Calling all Cars

Especially the one I drove in with. 

By Luke Robinson

I decided to take my ten-year-old daughter to New Orleans last January 1 for the Sugar Bowl. There was certainly some hesitation because it was going to be a quick trip. She and I were going to leave on New Year’s Day, watch the game and head out at 6:15 the next morning for Birmingham (just in time to make a flight to Columbus, OH).

You see, when it comes to holidays I am generally logistically challenged with 3 kids in Ohio, a wife and one-year-old in Birmingham and my job in Alex City.

But my oldest daughter is a trooper and I had free tickets to the game in New Orleans so why not, right?

We get to NOLA, walk around the French Quarter, watch Alabama win and crawl into the hotel beds about midnight. I was all packed, prepared to drive back on short rest and the car was gassed up for the ride.

Nope; big city traffic wasn’t going to delay this small-town guy!

All that remained was to get my car from the valet the next morning. Easy-breezy, successful trip!

Valet parking is great too, right? It’s one of the few times we will completely trust a total stranger with what is probably our second most expensive financial investment. We are all literally more possessive of our iPhones than our vehicles even though only one can double as an 80 mile per hour weapon (unless your wife scrolls through your phone to see that you have been flirting with Angela from accounting via text—-then the phone can go 80 mph at your head.)

Anyhoo, 5:30 AM Tuesday rolls around and the hotel (which will remain nameless to protect the guilty) gives me my wake up call. That’s great, but it was thirty minutes earlier than I requested. The attendant called and when I answered she said, “ OoooooooWeeeee…. I called the wrong room!”.

No sweat; I am a morning person! That just gives me an extra half hour to get ahead of the game!

I call to the front desk and ask them to bring my car around. After the big Alabama win, I was all ready to listen to some sports talk radio for five hours.

My extremely tired daughter and I get downstairs and the valet tells me my car is “comin’  around now.”

So we wait outside in the unreasonably cold and windy morning darkness.

And then we wait.

And wait some more.

Finally, I ask the valet what his definition of “comin’  around”  is. He tells me my car is next up.

Fifteen more minutes pass. I ask him if there is a problem.

He looks at me for a minute with a puzzled-if not frightened- expression.

Then he asks me, “ Ummmm…. Sir…. Are these your keys?”

“YEAH THOSE ARE MY KEYS!”, I reply while immediately realizing that if those are my keys there’s NO WAY my car is “comin’ around”.

“Ok”, he says, “Then…then we apparently…have lost your car.”

Hmmph. Lost my car, huh? Seems like keeping track of the vehicles parked would be a key component of a valet company’s business model though, doesn’t it?

Well, I asked him that very question. He responded with, “Yeah…it doesn’t happen often!”

As if I should be IMPRESSED the valet only loses cars every now and again! It’s like a dentist telling you, “Hey… I am 85% when it comes to pulling the right tooth…. Not too shabby!”

No worries though; the hotel manager got wind of the situation and rushed right to my aid by letting me know, “Sir— I have this handled. You WILL NOT be charged the $40 parking fee…..You’re welcome.”

That’s awesome. You aren’t going to charge me 40 bucks for losing the car it will still take me 4 years to pay off. That’s pretty….Pretty…. Sweet! (That last sentence was very sarcastic—Not sure if it translated to paper well.)

All is well that ends well two hours after the fact I suppose. The hotel literally woke up the valet manager and had him come down to search for the car. After several minutes of his searching, he finally found my ride and my daughter and I were back on the road. All the kids and I made the flight to Ohio and everything turned out fine.

Soooooooo I guess this story just kinda tails off into nothingness here. Sorry. It’d be A LOT cooler if it had turned out that my car had been stolen by a recently forced –to-retire cop dealing with his anger management that got him kicked off the force who was trying to rescue his kidnapped ex-wife (who he still loves though she is now dating the new head of Internal Affairs) from a gang of unusually well-armed cyber-criminals from Germany.

But alas, it was not meant to be. They just lost the car and then eventually found it. That’s it.

It is funny that a valet misplaced my car though, right? I mean… give me that much.

Yeah. In hindsight this story isn’t great I guess. I will try to do better next month.

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