Before my wife and I moved out to the suburbs and began our gang of mayhem, we lived in NW Portland, on 23rd Avenue, which was just beginning to be hip/upscale in the mid-90s when we lived there.  It was 10 blocks from my work, the impound lot under the Interstate, so I walked to work, as well as to PSU for college courses in the mornings.  The main advantage, however, of living there was the condensed selection of restaurants, pubs, tacquerias, coffee shops, bakeries, and homeless people, all packed within 10 blocks in any direction.

One of the lots we patrolled that produced a lot of impounds was 2 blocks from our apartment, an old closed restaurant called Quality Pie. Because it was right in the hub of the Vegas Strip, and because it was an open parking lot for an abandoned restaurant that everyone assumed was free parking for anyone visiting the neighborhood, it produced a lot of impounds.  I mean a LOT.  The impound signs were very clear, and the neighborhood locals all knew what was happening and would try to warn people, but often there would be as many as 10 or 15 cars a day getting towed, and even more near-tows.  The day-shift guys got most of them.  There was a lot of circling.  I remember going by the lot one afternoon, and it was empty, and as I went around the block I saw one of our other drivers stopped, talking to a passerby.  I decided to continue around the block, and when I went back around, there were now 2 cars in the lot.  I radioed in my discovery, and the driver I had passed scrambled to get turned around, but as I approached the lot, a third driver came from the other direction for the second car, leaving the second driver out in the cold.  Literally all you needed to refresh your chances was about 2 minutes.  By evening, the people working in the neighborhood had cleared out and left some space, and the shoppers also, so parking opened up a little.  

One afternoon, right after I got to work, I drove up to Quality Pie, and there was a Subaru parked there, so I started hooking up.  There were people milling all around, and one guy started yelling at the top of his lungs that a car was getting towed, trying to find the owner.  I
just smiled and continued to do what I was doing.  I never let stuff like that bother me.  However, I also worked quickly to get
the car up on dollies, and as I did so, I noticed that there was a tall to-go coffee cup on the center console.  It was a clear cup, iced coffee, and it was full.  It wasn't in a cup holder.  I slowly pulled out of the lot, trying to keep the car as parallel to the ground as I good, using the inside wheellift controls to raise it and lower it with the contour of the parking lot exit and the road.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t drive around with an open cup in your car without spilling it, but if you’re like me, you can spill something without moving.  It was lucky that I had seen the cup at all.  I really wanted to avoid spilling that coffee.

Before I got to the impound lot 10 blocks away, the owner had called.  She had been at the phone booth, 20 feet away from the car the whole time.  When she showed up, I recognized her and remembered seeing her there.  She had kept her back to me the whole time, evidently very engaged in her phone conversation (this was in an era when very few people had cell phones).  She had even ignored the patriot running around yelling, "Hey, somebody's Subaru is getting towed!!!"  I sat in the office and listened to her rant and rave while she paid the bill, though she was more in disbelief than anything else.  The last thing she said before she left the office was something like, "And I'm sure you spilled my coffee all over my car!"  I watched her out the window as she walked out to the car, peered in the window, unlocked the door, reached in, and picked up the full coffee cup, looking at it like she was inspecting it to make sure it was the coffee she had bought.  That was priceless to me.  I laughed out loud watching her look at that coffee.  She was truly mystified.

Have a safe and profitable week.
Nick Kemper

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