So, here’s the deal: I don’t have medical insurance. I lost my COBRA coverage about a month before my heart attack in 2011. Having a heart attack without medical insurance SUCKS major balls. They tend to tell you things like “We are going to do this really expensive test to see if there is anything seriously wrong, but if there is, we won’t be able to do anything to fix it.” Awesome!!
So, after that, I really got better. Mostly because the bill to the hospital is as much as a luxury car. So, going back to the ER twice last week was a major blow and made me really unhappy. It has been almost 2 years since my last trip and that was a major record for me. But, my health is important and needed to be addressed. I also knew that I needed to figure out a way to get continuing health care for my condition without going broke.
For the past few years, my husband has been using a community health center to have his health monitored on a sliding scale. He suggested that I follow-up with them and see if they could help me without having to shell out major bucks for self-pay visits to a doctor. So, last Monday I went in for my appointment. Now the clinic is very nice and practically brand new, so it wasn’t creepy or anything. But the neighborhood is a pain. This is in a really trendy urban area, but a lot of it is transitional, so it can still be a little sketchy. Also, parking in this area is a massive pain. This building actually has four parking lots, each the size of a postage stamp. The only other option is street parking. And unfortunately, that is what I got stuck with.
So, I scoured the neighborhood looking to make sure there weren’t any No Parking signs hiding. I found a spot with NO signs and parked there. There was a car in front and a car behind. Behind the last car was a driveway with an electronic gate, so I wasn’t about to block that. I parked the car and walked the block to the clinic building. I was stuck in this building for a good 3.5 hours trying to do paperwork, get in to see the doctor, and get more blood drawn. (Admittedly, I was totally freaked out by the simple blood draw after getting my lightning hands the week before)
After this long ordeal, I just wanted to get in my car and go home. Plus, my cell battery was getting low and I knew I had forgotten my charger at home. So, when I walked the next block, I noticed that it was… well… empty. No cars. Not even mine. I’m pretty sure I just stood there for a minute looking where my car used to be. Then I went into Scooby Doo detective mode. I checked again for signs. No signs. Then I checked the ground for glass, or something that might have fallen out of my car if it had been stolen. Nothing. At this point, I am really worried. My cell was at 4% battery life, and my husband was miles away at a game night with friends. Yikes!!
I managed to get him on the cell while walking back to the clinic and he was already out the door and on his way. I went back in to the clinic and told them my car was gone. “Oh, it was probably towed. They tow all the time here” says the guy behind the desk. Awesome. Fortunately, during my three plus hours in the building, I had built a rapport with this guy. He gave me the number of the impound lot where they usually take the cars from the area and let me hang out and make my calls. I called, and of course they couldn’t find my car in their system. During this, both Paul and my sister were blowing up my dying cell phone with texts trying to figure out if I am ok and where I am. At this point, the clinic is closing and now I have to figure out where to go hang out in this sketchy neighborhood while waiting for my Knight in Rusty Red Armor to arrive.
The reception dude told me NOT to go to the McDonalds next door (which was exactly where I was planning to go), but to head over to the Half Price Books across the street. Then, my cell phone died. Uuuuugh! I was able to tell both Paul and my sister where I would be waiting.
The lady from the impound place was really nice and told me that she would actually go walk around the yard to see if the car had been brought in without being put into the system and she would call me back. I asked her to please call Paul since my phone was dead (never thinking she actually would). So, I hoofed it over to HPB to wait. I will say that through all of this, I never panicked. I stayed pretty cool. But, I also started trying to remember if there was anything in the car worth stealing (there wasn’t). What a nightmare!
Paul showed up really quickly and we went back over to where I had parked the car. There were cars parked there now (not mine), but I noticed that the parking area looked smaller than I remembered. We called the impound lot again, just to check, and she told me that it still wasn’t there. But, she suggested a couple of things I could do to track it down. So we did as she asked. We ended up calling the main towing number and they confirmed that the car had been towed, but to a different lot. As soon as I hung up, the lady from the lot actually called back to tell me that she had located it online. I will say that I was a little shocked because this lady really went above and beyond to help me find it. It was really unexpected but completely appreciated.
We made it out to the middle of warehouse-ville to the other impound lot, but as we were driving out there, I told Paul it looked a lot more like we were driving out to meet someone from Craigslist to murder us. I managed to get the car back, only to also find a parking ticket on it (my first ever). Ugh!! Parking blocking a private driveway.
Apparently, the guy originally parked behind me was parked in front of (and blocking) another driveway that I never saw. I guess when I parked in front of him, part of my car must have been blocking as well. It’s a lesson. A stupidly expensive lesson.
But, with all this mess, there was a bright side. The clinic was able to find a grant that I qualified for to get covered for medical care for the next year. That is great news. This means I can get meds and treatment when needed, not just suffer through because we don’t have insurance. It also means that I will have to really watch where I am going when I have to go back.
Holy cow that sucks! I am glad they were even able to find your car, that is a huge fear of mine – car getting towed and paying impound fees for days while I am trying to track down the car.
According to the impound lady, by law they have to have the car listed as towed within two hours of it being picked up. There is a website for the City of Houston http://www.findmytowedcar.com where you can locate which impound lot your car has been taken to. You have to know either your license plate or VIN number to track it down. I didn’t have any of that info on me, as it was located in the car. You can bet I now have all of that information in my purse, my phone, and I have extra phone chargers in my purse and car. Being without a phone during all this crap was a nightmare.
Also, the tow fees are a freaking racket! $223.80 for the tow, and an additional $22/day if you don’t pick it up right away. That on top of the $40 parking ticket made it a very expensive and stressful day.