Oh mercy, do I have another story for you about fun moments in travel! On our weekend trip to D.C. (see Episode 6), we parked in a parking garage as suggested by the hotel where we were staying and left the car there for the weekend. We planned to head out Monday morning to avoid the influx of traffic sure to be heading in on Memorial Day. We headed to our car to leave around 9:30 a.m. When we drove to the exit, there was a car directly in front of us next to an empty booth where someone was supposed to be collecting money. The mechanical arm granting our freedom was in the down position.
We both got out of our cars and spoke to a couple that was sitting nearby, also apparently waiting to get out of the garage. They had been there an hour and tried calling the parking garage company, speaking with the hotel staff and even the building manager that was on site but no one would/could open the gate. They even called the police to no avail. Fortunately, the other family called the police and managed to explain the situation in such a way that they came out and spoke to him in person which followed with a dispatch to the fire department (not sure if he used my term, "false imprisonment," but in my head, that's what made this ball start rolling).
To my surprise, the fire department was apparently located just around the corner and within 5 minutes, firefighters were literally walking into the parking garage with axes. I was internally freaking out because, for some reason, when people show up carrying axes, it is then that I realize something is wrong. They looked over the mechanical arm to figure out if dismantling it was an option. If not, I am assuming, they would have axed it, literally. While the firefighters were doing this, the building manager that had been so incredibly unhelpful an hour prior was suddenly agreeable to calling the parking garage company and getting the matter resolved that way. The police officer took the man aside and seemed to explain to him that he had already missed that opportunity and instructed the firefighters to move forward with dismantling the arm. This was delightful to witness because this guy was smug the first time he spoke with the police officer. Seeing him not get his way and hearing the tone of voice the officer was a treat for me.
Within 5 minutes, we were free to go. No one took our information. I thought sure we would receive a bill from the parking garage in a week or two.
As predicted, a few weeks later, Ben and I received a letter in the mail from Washington, D.C. Walking back to the house from the mailbox I thought, here it is. When I opened it and found a $100 speeding ticket, you can imagine my surprise! Upon researching online, we found out there is a specific six lane road (three lanes on each side) on the way in to D.C. that slows down to 35 for no reason other than a speed trap (this single one reportedly brought in $5 MILLION + within a single fiscal year). Ben wrote a letter requesting the charges to be dropped for several reasons and, to my surprise, they dropped it (thank you internet)!
While the beginning of our trapped adventure had me on edge (there was no way anyone at work would believe me if I told them I couldn't make it to work on Tuesday because I was stuck in a parking garage in Washington, D.C. all day Monday), I rode away with a laugh and a smile because, like my job, you can't make this stuff up.