A few weeks ago, while the spouse was hauling the children off to Ye Olde Family Homesteadde in Ohio, I went up to DC to visit friends. (This was the occasion of multiple cars ON FIRE on 495. AIEEE.) In any event. I had a lovely dinner with M and B and wee-Belle and drove over the river to stay at my sister's nearby apartment. I had asked her if I needed a parking pass and (ominous foreshadowing) she told me no. I hasten to add that there were no signs in the parking lot or lobby indicating the contrary.
Naturally, I woke up the next morning and the car was gone.
I called my sister. She told me to go talk to the building manager. I talked to the building manager about this red, ancient Honda I had borrowed. He told me to call the towing company. I called the towing company. They told me that the car was somewhere nine miles away and all I had to do was present them with [ludicrous sum] in cash and proof that I was registered owner of the car, such as my driver's license.
I explained to them that, in fact, a colleague of my spouse had lent us her (piece of crap) car (with a variably-present fourth gear) and that the colleague was, as far as I knew, in Puerto Rico and I had no contact information for her. I offered to describe the random contents of the back seat, which included half a bag of miniature chocolate chips, a large peeled onion, a pink zip-up fleece, and a road atlas with no cover. They cheerily suggested I have the owner go to the nearest American consulate and fax a notarized letter that gave me permission to retrieve the car. I thanked them politely and hung up.
I briefly stood in the parking lot, in the freezing cold wind (my coat was in the car) and envisioned various strategies including calling Dr. S's boss and asking for colleague's phone number and.... or going back to Mountain U in a rented car and then driving back up with colleague once she returned... or possibly throwing myself into the river.
I talked to the building manager again. He called the towing company and explained. They called another towing company, which actually had the damn car. The building manager explained to them. "Okay!" he said cheerfully to me.
My sister arrived back in DC at this auspicious moment. We drove out to Middle of Nowhere Towing, Inc. I told the lady at the desk that the building manager had called... someone... about this ancient red car I had borrowed. She asked "Are you the registered owner of the car?"
I took a deep breath and explained for the fifth time that NO. For the love of god. She was IN. Puerto. RICO.
The lady said "Virginia state law prohibits releasing a car to anyone but the registered owner..."
...I took a deep breath...
"... but if you pay cash..."
My sister and I went to the ATM. We returned with exact change, in cash, showed my driver's license (heaven forbid they should ever be audited?) and walked out to the car...
... where we dissolved into hysterical laughter, because the car isn't even red.
I think the moral of the story is that I'm never borrowing anyone else's car again EVER.