French Quarter Living: Tow Truck Trials


Waldo-image_approvedSince moving into the French Quarter a week prior, my short and fitful spurts of sleep had been punctuated with restless dreams of my truck being towed. I was sure I’d sooner or later forget about Tuesday and Thursdays street cleaning, earning a hefty towing bill. Because of this paranoia I had circled my truck twice Thursday night and returned Friday morning to ensure I wasn’t in violation of street signs or painted boundaries; thus, as I stood Sunday night around midnight looking at another car parked where I’d left my truck, neither option made sense—towing my legally parked vehicle or stealing my old and battered truck.


I was certain of where I had parked but suspected police would question my memory, so I decided to canvas nearby streets on my bike. I raced home, sweating profusely and frantically muttering to myself, and quickly Googled the nearest police station (the other end of Royal) before taking off on two wheels.

thislittlelightofmineBefore moving into the French Quarter I had dropped my bike off to have lights installed yet, per my current string of luck, the light attached to the handlebars had slipped from its mount on my very next ride and then quit working; thus, I was left to take my chances darting about sans illumination.


My memory proved correct, though. My truck was nowhere to be found, so I raced to the police station, talking frantically as I rushed up to the officer on duty. He motioned for me to slow and asked for the make and model of my truck, furrowing his brow at my response.

“That doesn’t fit the profile [for a stolen vehicle]. Are you sure you weren’t towed?”

“But I was parked legally and had my resident parking pass in the window!” I protested

knight riderHe looked unconvinced and dialed the tow yard. I couldn’t remember my license plate number, though, so they said I’d have to come and look in person. The cop gave me directions to take my bike up Canal to Claiborne, turning under the interstate overpass that runs north of Treme. Considering it was now after midnight, I asked if it was safe. He just laughed, but I didn’t find it amusing—I didn’t have a badge or a gun . . . or a vehicle.

Up Canal I went, though, and darting under the dark overpass hardly felt like the best idea but I arrived safely and, after being yelled at for entering the wrong gate, sure enough spotted my truck behind the towering chain link fence.


Storming into the office, I demanded an explanation. The guy looked down at his clipboard and said: “You were towed Saturday night for parking within twenty feet of an intersection.”

I was furious. I hadn’t parked right on the corner and there had been no signs or demarcations. Hell, there was already another car parked there (and has been every time I’ve passed since). When I protested, the disinterested man behind the Plexiglas told me I was endangering pedestrian lives (as if he cared) and then smugly suggested I learn the parking laws.

nuclear_explosion_by_theabp-d59sy3yThus ensued my second major meltdown since moving to New Orleans (having previously went postal in a post office after a similar string of illness and bad luck.)

Let’s just say that my critique of parasitic bureaucrats and city government preying on unsuspecting citizens was biting enough to make him flinch demonstratively. We won’t be exchanging Christmas Cards.


As I drove home I felt drained and disgusted. Who needs street cleaning when you can get towed for parking without a tape measure?! Much like after my post-Mardi Gras illness and run of bad luck, I was feeling beat up and ready to flee back to Florida to recoup. I had been planning to return for a week in mid-June, anyhow, to visit and pick up some furniture but as I laid in bed unable to sleep (piling anger on top of allergies) I decided to leave as soon as I could tie up loose ends.

lewis and clarkI spent Monday morning working on my shortened Robin Barnes article for Offbeat and then went to an interview to volunteer for WWOZ. (The volunteer coordinator seemed eager to have me write for the website, but I haven’t heard back since her initial response the next day.) I spent that night and the next morning packing but, experiencing a slight surge of energy and some respiratory respite, I decided to go for a long bike ride Tuesday afternoon and actually enjoy the city before departing.

I forgot to check Google Maps, though, and what a challenge it is navigating without a smart phone—how did Lewis & Clark ever manage?! Somehow I found my way to City Park—a hard target to miss—and though I’m not familiar with the area near the lake, I followed the park to Lakeview Drive and followed the Pontchartrain for a bit before heading back. It was exciting once again navigating with the sun and stars . . . and street signs and gigantic parks and such . . . and just sweating and exerting myself was a blessing. It was a sublime day for a sublime ride.

And perhaps my little foray in the sun was what I needed to turn my luck, for when I returned, good news was finally waiting.


725_Alls-Well-that-Ends-636055When the editor at Offbeat had cut down my feature on Robin Barnes, I’d asked if we could push it back a month to preserve its length. He said it was a possibility only if she were playing Satchmo Summerfest in August, but when I inquired her publicist said she’d applied but hadn’t been accepted. Monday afternoon I’d sent in my shortened piece with a tactful but direct inquiry asking if my recent omissions, reductions, and rejections were merely me ‘paying my dues’ or if it meant I was wasting my time. I assured him I was willing to patiently wait and work if the former were true, but would prefer his honesty if it was in fact the latter. He’d responded that morning to say he really liked the article and encouraged me to be patient and keep trying.

When I returned from my bike ride, though, the editor had emailed to ask if I could expand the article back to feature length. Apparently the scheduler for Satchmo Summerfest had been in his office to talk about media coverage and when he found out Offbeat was running a story on Barnes, the scheduler immediately declared he was adding her. With the festival expecting a feature, I was back on deck. The festival suddenly wanted Barnes because the magazine did, and the magazine suddenly wanted her because the festival did. How funny: They’d given each other Diva envy. Oh, well. In the words of Willy Shakes: All’s well that ends well.


aa_floridays_frontIt was nice leaving with my karma on the rebound, but that didn’t slow me down. I made it to Jacksonville on Wednesday in under eight and a half hours—a personal record—stopping only once to gas up, potty, and grab a sandwich. By the next afternoon, I was clearing my sinuses in the salt air and recharging my Caribbean Soul in the sand, sun, and sea.





  1. Betty Sarrett says:

    Orleans city living sounds like a pain in the butt. Interesting. I was afraid your temper would get u in trouble.

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