Today was quite a day. Productive, fun, informative and expensive.
We had a meeting with an historian and family history expert in Karlsruhe, about an hour south of Heidelberg. We arrived in the leafy neighborhood and I parked the van in a well-marked zone near his house. About 90 minutes later, we emerged from a very enjoyable and productive meeting. My van was GONE. Now, this is the second time in my career that I’ve found an empty spot where my van once stood. The first was in September, 2005 in Prague, at a four star hotel right at the foot of the Charles Bridge. My van had been stolen by a professional thief during the night right under the “watchful” eye of a security camera, spotlights, and a so-called full-time security guard. (Yeah, right. I wonder if he had any trouble spending the money earned from looking the other way while my van was driven away at 12:25 a.m. on that warm September evening) It was only later that I learned that VWs were of particular interest that summer in Prague. Mine was the 5th stolen in the last 45 days. OK, would have been nice if the hotel receptionist had mentioned that little nugget of information when I asked about parking overnight in their lot!
Anyway, this morning’s shock was much the same. I walked over to the empty spot and looked around. There, hidden by foliage, was a sign about seven feet high marking the spot as a private handicapped spot. There was no painted white wheelchair on the pavement, as is usually the case in both Germany and America. I’d backed into the spot and so the sign, even if I had seen it, was pointing the wrong way for me to have noticed.I went back to our meeting place and informed the kindly gentleman that I needed to find my van. A quick call to the Polizei gave him the information I needed, and we were soon off in his car to the impound lot. He said, “my neighbors are not friendly people.” Well, I couldn’t really blame them, because it is their spot. We get annoyed in Sarasota when someone parks in one of our reserved spots at our retail store. But still. Did they really have to have me TOWED? A nasty note on the windshield would have taught me enough of a lesson.
The towtruck driver took pity on me as he collected my cash. “The city is trying to save money by not repainting wheelchair symbols on handicapped spots,” he said. “You must always be looking for the special sign.”
My donation to the city of Karlsruhe in the amount of 130 Euros (about $170 plus a fine I have to pay later in the amount of 35 Euros) will hopefully pay for a half gallon of white paint so that the city can once again properly mark private, handicapped spots.
Oh, the German version of the Supreme Court is located in Karlsruhe. Do you think I have a chance at an appeal? I can buy a lot of schnitzel for 165 Euro…