Hell on Wheels

In the last week, I've developed something I never thought my sweet little heart could harbor: hatred. But I'm not going around hatin' all willy-nilly. No, this is hate brought on by three separate experiences with transit, or lack thereof, in this city.

First, I do not fault the Dallas police officer who pulled me over and cited me for an expired inspection sticker last Wednesday. In fact, he was exceptionally helpful, going so far as to give me an envelope I should use to mail in my proof of inspection, pointing out the number to call if I had questions and reassuring me that we all overlook details sometimes. A nice, efficient fellow. I'm also not irritated with the very helpful woman who helped me decipher my citation and told me I was still within the two-month grace period for just having to prove inspection and pay a $12 court processing fee. My wrath was born after the seven calls I made over the span of two days before I was able to reach said helpful woman. Seven! What if I had been on the cusp? What if that extra day had made the difference between $12 and $200? Just a thought, but perhaps staying open just a second past 4:30 p.m. might help the Central Collections Office service a few more people. More problems after the jump.

Then, last Thursday night, some friends and I patronized a venue on Lower Greenville. The area has a reputation for ruthless towing, so we checked our block long and hard before parking. No signs. My friend also checked where he had parked. Again, no signs. He estimated that a fire hydrant was about 15 feet away. He was wrong. He got towed. A nearby officer advised him to call the City of Dallas Police Auto Pound (214-670-5116, located at 1955 Vilbig Road, for future reference). My friend did. After pressing buttons for English and directions he heard, "The auto pound is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays." So after driving him to the auto pound around 1 a.m., we were both a little surprised to find all the service windows decorated with "Closed" signs and a security guard saying that the pound closed at 10:30 p.m. and would reopen at 6:30 p.m. "Changed hours back in October 2005," he said, a little too chipper.

He suggested we tap on the glass and see if someone would let us know if the car was officially in the lot before making the morning trip back. We did and, fortunately, a woman confirmed the whereabouts of the car. She also advised us that if the car was not retreived within 12 hours of the towing, an additional day's storage fee would apply. Now, the woman behind the glass seemed to have a good grasp of the computer system. Hell, they can even update the auto pound Web site. Guess that automated recording on the phone is beyond anyone's reach after 10 months. By the way, I just called that same number and hit those same buttons. I heard the same thing: "The auto pound is open 24 hours..."

And, finally, this one's simple. Everyone who has ever driven, or even ridden in, a car has seen a sign that says, "Right Lane Closed" or "Left Lane Closed." After driving down Ross Avenue in morning rush hour traffic behind a utility truck, I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that a "Center Lane Closed" sign might be a good idea too. Just put it, you know, right behind the first sign. Give us a heads-up that we're not dealing with three-down-to-two lanes, but that we're going whole-hog and this is a one-lane voyage. But then perhaps I'm not a typical Dallas adventure driver. I signal, I follow speed limits, and I wave when people let me in. Hmm, look at that. Despite the hate, I still wave. --Merritt Martin


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