Details can bite you in the butt

By Steve Estes

Sometimes yours truly doesn’t pay attention to the smallest of details.

And that invariably gets me into trouble.

Such was the case recently when we decided to take the small male children to see the Avengers movie at Tropic Cinema.

Some probably think we were nuts anyway to take three boys six and under to see a large-screen movie anyway, but hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The first problem was that we got caught behind every slow driver between here and Key West, so we got to the theater with just seconds to spare.

Try herding little guys in the same direction at the same time. I’ve heard that herding cats is a similar experience.

I remembered something about parking being available at the post office downtown for folks grabbing a show at the Tropic. And then there had been talk of it being a pay lot now, so I looked everywhere for an attendant to pay. There was no attendant.

What I didn’t pay attention to was the fine print that said I needed to have the permit in my window or I could be towed. I guess believing that local tow operators would have a heart and wait for the movies to let out before they snatched cars in the lot was a pie-in-the-sky dream.

So I had the permit in my pocket.

I also didn’t pay attention to the fine print on the permit that said you could only park on the side of the lot facing Whitehead Street. When we arrived there were no spots facing Whitehead.

In the rush to herd the cats…err young boys…in the right direction before the movie started, I read past that fine detail.

Normally I turn my cell phone off when I’m attending something like a movie, but the cat herding episode had my wits a little out of whack. Three times during the flick my phone vibrated against my hip. I didn’t recognize the number so I ignored the call.

I had other things to worry about, like three little boys stuffing their faces with popcorn, sucking down monumental amounts of soda, and making a trip to the bathroom every 15 minutes.

We made it through the movie, and I actually caught enough of it to know what was going on, and left the theater.

My Jeep was gone.

It had been towed by Arnold’s Towing for being on the wrong side of the lot.

I listened to the voice mails on my phone. It was a friend of mine who got a call from another tow company telling me my Jeep was being hooked up to be hauled off.

I guess if I mistakenly leave my phone on when it should be off, I should answer the calls. Another little detail overlooked.

So there we were, in the heat and threatening skies, with three little boys amped up on soda and popcorn who had just watched a movie with lots of stuff blowing up.

Holly and our daughter were in town shopping while we went to the movie, so they came by and grabbed the little ones to get them out of the weather.

I called the tow company.

It was not a pleasant conversation. I asked about the plan to make it a pay lot. Not yet. I asked about the parking pass. Not in the window. I asked about the side of the lot being full. Not his problem.

And of course since I had no wheels, I lost the battle.

My friend had called my buddy Bobby and he called to say he was on the way down to pick us up and go get the Jeep out of lock up. I thanked him.

When we got to the tow yard, I had to make one last appeal, which of course I lost, but was quite snippy with the driver when the truck I saw wasn’t a flat bed. You can’t tow a Jeep with the transfer case hooked in except on a flat bed.

He assured me he knew what he was doing, with a silly smile, and that he had indeed used a flat bed to tow the vehicle.

Just to make sure, I crawled under the Jeep before I would sign off and checked to see that the transfer case was still in one piece.

So triple digits lighter in the wallet, I pulled out the parking pass from Tropic Cinema, tossed it on the dashboard, started the Jeep with a great deal of fanfare and pulled out of the lot.

So I guess this is a lesson in attention to detail, and a new policy of not herding cats…err little boys…with only seconds to spare for a timed event, and in making sure that I know what the heck I’m doing before I do it.

But just for kicks, I called some old friends of mine in Key West government just to vent.

And guess what. Wednesday I read where the post office is going to become a pay lot after hours, with no more free Tropic Cinema parking.

I don’t know whether to feel bad or partially vindicated.

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