The Tale of Chompers the Car

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This is going to stray from my usual topics of travel and food, but I just can’t resist sharing this with you!

I’ve never been one to name inanimate objects. I leave that to my sister. For as long as I can remember, every car, cell phone, and iPod of hers has had a name. Heck, even my electronics have had names – despite my disdain. One particular object, my car, was given the name “Chompers”. The name Chompers was a combined effort of my sister and my friends, and was inspired by the license plate frame I USED to have on my car. To make a long story short, my dad was really into collecting shark teeth for a while and bought a license plate frame depicting the jaws of a shark. My friends told me I should name the car “Jaws”, and my sister suggested Chompers (or maybe it was the other way around?). Chompers seemed a little less sinister than Jaws, hence, my car became known as Chompers (ugh – why?). I’ve never quite understood why one feels the need to name objects, especially electronics, but I’ve certainly gained some insight as of late.

It all started with me staying the night at a friend’s apartment this past week. My close friends and I have a rotating weekly get together. Since I live in a rural area, I sometimes stay the night depending on where we meet. This week was a bit of a drive for me, so I decided to sleepover at my friend’s place. I also didn’t have work the next day, so I’d scheduled a doctor’s appointment on my day off. Staying at my friend’s house was the ideal situation. I would be able to spend time with my friends, and arrive at the doctor’s office with time to spare. Or so I thought.

The next morning I woke up to go to the doctor’s office. I packed my things, ate breakfast with my friends, said my goodbyes, and walked outside to my car. Despite the limited parking, I’d found a spot close to the apartment complex the night before. As I walked to the street and began the well known ritual of scrambling to find my key chain to unlock my car door, I realized I didn’t see my car. Wait. what? My car was GONE.

As you can imagine, a slew of four letter expletives ran through my mind, yet I still felt oddly numb. This couldn’t be happening. Sure enough there was a sign a few feet from me stating, “No Parking Monday-Friday 7 AM to 4 PM”. At that moment, I suddenly realized that every one of my previous visits had been on weekends, thus parking at this spot was never an issue. After calling to cancel my doctor’s appointment, my friend and I reconvened to plan our course of action. Evidently, the street I parked on was used for loading and unloading for students at a foreign language school up the street. (A foreign language school?! C’mon! Betrayed by my own flesh and blood.) After speaking with personnel at the school, I was given a number to call, and eventually found out that my car had, in fact, been towed.



Gosh, if there was ever a time to wish for a parking ticket this was it. Heck maybe even a speeding ticket. At least I’d still have the car.

After getting the address of the tow lot, my friend selflessly drove me the 20 minutes to retrieve my car (of course the lot was 20 minutes away). Upon arrival we saw a sign reading “Vehicle Impound Facility”. It sunk in even more. My car had been impounded. I don’t know why the word “impounded” carries such gravitas, but it seems to strike a nerve more than “confiscate”, “seize”, or “expropriate” ever could. Ugh. My car had been impounded, and now I was dealing with the consequences.

As we continued to the facility, I couldn’t help feeling a bit nostalgic for my car. Weird, right? It’s a machine. Yet as I continued through the lot, I saw all of the other cars that had been impounded. Some were missing windows, some were missing tires, some had been completely totaled from accidents, and my poor car was here among them. I couldn’t help but feel like I was part of some bizarre Disney storyline in which I was visiting a car graveyard. My poor car. Taken by strangers in the morning, to a strange place, and all because of my carelessness. Poor Chompers.

There was a lot of administrative work that needed to be done before I could have Chompers back, but after obtaining a notarized letter and paying a steep fine, my car was finally returned. Although the day was incredibly stressful, I learned some valuable lessons. One, I have amazing friends. Driving me to the impound lot was but one step in time-consuming process to regain my car, and my friend stayed with me until the end. Two, and this is just something I feel the need to share,  it’s important to act with kindness and respect in the midst of confusion and chaos. Even though I was only there for a fraction of a day, I witnessed how difficult it can be to be the customer service at an impound lot – dealing with frustrated and emotional people. I can’t imagine doing that every day, and I now have a high level of respect for these individuals.

In the end, I still don’t care for the idea of naming electronics, but perhaps Chompers will be the one exception.

What about you? Have you ever had an experience similar to this? How did you deal with it?

“Many people pray to be kept out of unexpected problems. Some people pray to be able to confront and overcome them.” – Toba Beta


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