Tow Away Lines
I drive a Ford Prostitute van (it calls itself an Escort, but it's not fooling anyone).
It was parked on in a bus-bay on Eden Quay (complete with a prominent windscreen-notice proclaiming that I was doing a job for Dublin Bus, and bearing my less -than- Copperplate signature).
It was not restricting traffic movement or causing congestion. And unless the wisp of last year's straw, peeping from under the rear door, distracted passers by it was not doing any harm.
While I was discussing the proposed Luas system with a bus driver I perceived that the front wheels of my van were about 300mm further from Australia than when I parked it.
A tow-wagon bearing the name Control Plus (it didn't say plus what) and a legend in slanted writing about "getting Dublin moving" was parked in front and already had a BMW in an elevated position.
It also had my little van in the.....the.....I don't know what you'd call the position. I'll have to look up Karma Sutra. Anyway they had it hooked up and ready to remove.
I sat into my vehicle to retrieve my jacket.
As I placed my ample rump in the drivers seat, which was now at a 45degree angle, I was told by a Control Plus official; " you're not getting it back".
I had no way of knowing if he meant my jacket, my virginity (which I lost in this very area of Dublin city, many decades ago).
Then said official gave me an option; "Are you getting out or are you travelling with us"?
Anything is better than walking, I always say, so I replied; "I'm travelling with you".
He didn't seem happy with my reply and rejoined with: "Are you getting out or am I calling the Guards?"
That frightened me! I began to wonder. Does this man know that I urinated on the street of Ballymore Eustace in 1962 in such a way as to "......offend modesty and cause scandal or injury to the morals of the community"?
Or would the Statute of Limitations save me from prosecution for riding an unlit bicycle in Ballinastocken before the Beatles were famous?
Anyway I told the decent man to call the Guards. He proceeded to make the call but didn't tell me why.
A brace of Gardai (one of each gender) duly arrived.
The three of us pondered on why the two of them had been summoned. And when I told them that it was the only time in 55 years that anyone saw fit to call the police for me, the smattering of Psychology in Templemore kicked in. They immediately spotted my hypersensitivity and promptly returned to their beat.
The Control-Plus wagon set off at a steady pace, with my good self in tow. When we arrived at the pound I thanked the driver for the lift and proceeded to pay £130.00.
I had arrived in my own van, the keys of which I now held in my hand. I was paying with an overworked Visa card, the scrawled signature thereon matching the one I was now writing and the larger version displayed on the windscreen. But what was I asked?.........."Do you have any identification?". While I could have very easily been Tom Cruise playing the part of a much harassed peasant worker I managed to convince Control Plus of my identity.
A concerned official (as soon as he established that I wasn't Meryl Streep) offered me the use of a first-aid kit to tend my lacerated face. (I had by now sustained what my late father used to call "The blackguard's mark", to wit a black eye, but more about that anon).
I refused all medical aid but they gave me a leaflet which told me; ".......... Sometimes things do go wrong". And in a separate document I was informed that things went wrong 71 times in the year 2,000; in the millennium year 71 Vehicle Removal Release Fees were refunded.
So I sent a note to the Control Plus;
Just a few lines hoping this finds you well, as we are not too bad Thank God.
It wasn't a bad winter for fodder.
I would like to become a statistic for 2,001, please send me back my hundred-and-thirty quid.
Your obedient servant,
Matthew J. Lennon."
(I forgot to put; "Courtesy and civility assured at all times")
After a month I received a courteous reply from one Ms Fiona Pidgeon who informed me ".....I regret that I an unable to identify sufficient reason to cancel the notice that was issued in respect of the above offence".
Ms Pidgeon also sent me a nice Photo for my album; a picture of my van in shackles, so that I'd know it wasn't all a dream. She also very kindly pointed out to me that:"The onus is on the driver to be fully aware of the traffic regulations and procedures when parking their vehicle". I can only assume that the 71 drivers who had their tow-away fees refunded were more aware than most.
I checked with the Companies Registration Office Dublin and found that not one of the Directors of Central Parking System of Ireland Ltd. (of which Control Plus is the trading name) have an address in Ireland.
I think I blew my chances of a candlelight dinner with Ms Pidgeon when I pointed out that the last time we had a body of men in Ireland whose bosses all had "offshore" addresses, they were known as The-Black-and-tans.
While " sometimes things do go wrong", according to Control Plus I'm not included and so far I'm not a favourable statistic for 2,001.
If you make the mistake of not using Dublin Bus, you bring your car into town and are towed away here's a bit of advice; if you are writing an appealing letter to Control Plus make sure and conclude with;
Courtesy and civility assured at all times.