Yesterday I met Paul Schafer at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis. Paul had flown in from Texas for the Desiring God National Conference (which is being live blogged by Tim Challies). I parked on 10th St. on the North Side of the Hilton at roughly 3:15 PM and went up to visit with Paul. Paul’s room on the 17th floor marks the highest point I have been up in a building in downtown Minneapolis. We spied a Caribou Coffee a block away (next to Brit’s Pub) and made our way there to talk. Paul and I had not previously met, though we had spoken once on the phone and interacted via email and on blogs for a couple of years. So we settled down and talked about life and ministry over a frozen coffee (Paul) and a bottle of water (me!). We eventually made our way back to the hotel, and went up into Paul’s room to talk some more. It was a very nice time, and at about 4:35 we concluded with a prayer so I could make it to work by 5:00. When I left the building and made my way to the North side of the hotel, I discovered that my truck was no longer where I had parked it. Not good. Very not good. Immediately I called work to alert them to my pending difficulties to both getting to work, and getting to work with any work clothes (they were in the truck). I then called the Minneapolis Police to find out what to do. I explained what happened, where I was and asked what to do. I figured there was a chance it was towed and not stolen (I was praying for towed!). The police lady I spoke with was unable to find any listing of my truck having been picked up or delivered to the impound lot. She said it was possibly still in transition, or hadn’t been processed yet. I asked if I should report it stolen or go to the impound lot, and her response was “it’s up to you on that sir”. Not a lot of help. I thanked her, and got off the phone to give it some thought (and to call and leave my wife a voice mail about my dillema). I went back out to where my truck was parked, and saw there was only a single car parked on the street, and the street was othewise very empty, with very little traffic for 4:45 on a Friday afternoon in downtown Minneapolis. The one car still parked on the street had a parking ticket on the window. I looked at all the signage on the street, nothing indicating that I shouldn’t have parked there. Down the street was a sign with some handicapped stuff on it, but not near where I was parked. I looked at the meter I parked next to, and nothing on the side I put the money in. I looked on the street side, and in very tiny print was something saying “No Parking 4:00-6:00PM weekdays”. So I had the doorman at the Hilton whistle me down a cab. I asked the driver to take me to the impound lot, which was about a mile away. $6.68 later and I’m at the impound lot. I tip the driver, who was working on some fractions on a notepad while he drove. They were simple fractions, things learned in 4th or 5th grade. I suspect he is working toward his citizenship, but I don’t ask. I don’t want to pry, and I’m focused on truck recovery. My computer is in the truck, with all of my past 4 years of seminary work on it. My text books are in there. Many of my CDs, my work clothes, a ton of tools. I really want my truck back.

I enter the impound lot, and am dissappointed. The building appears to be built to be bomb proof. I suspect this is because 99% of the people entering here are VERY unhappy people. Thick glass seperates you from the employees, like a gas station in the bad part of town. It has to be a terrible job I think to myself as I watch a very elderly man try to get his car out of the pound. I can see he is in poor health, and is very likely not able to afford this situation. In fact, everyone in the room looks like they probably are not in the best of financial situations. 2/3 of the people are black women, there is 2 groups of Latino men, and one other young white woman, and the old man. We’re all in this together in some warped way.

I stand in line, watch other people’s pain. Eventually I make it to the front of the line, but my truck has not come in yet. I’m getting worried. It is now 5:20, and my truck is nowhere to be found. I decide to give it another 20 minutes, then I’m calling it in as stolen. 15 minutes later a man from behind the thick glass motions to me and calls me over. He tells me it’s my turn, and I begin to explain my truck hasn’t come it yet. He says it just did, and they are finished processing it. $138 in tow fees, $34 in parking ticket later and I get the piece of paper that says I can take my truck. I then have to wait 20 minutes for the “security” to come pick me up and drive me 150 yards onto their lot to my vehicle. No foot traffic is allowed, all persons must be accompanied by security. I make it to work around 6:30 PM, missing some of the most profitable time of my shift. All told, the expense for parking was $2.50 in the meter, and then at least $200 for the last 5 minutes. 5 minutes. My truck was towed at 4:05 PM.

I hate Minneapolis.

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