Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wow, what a night

Last night, I went to MacDinton's Irish Pub in the South Howard part of town to watch the Lightning game with four co-workers. This was a historic occasion because it was the first time I'd been to MacDinton's for a reason other than seeing the Johnny G Lyon Band and it was the first time I'd gone there when I wasn't already drunk. It was also historic because it was BY FAR my shortest visit there...and most likely my last .
Let me explain.
We started the evening with dinner at the Chipotle Grill in the plaza next door. After dinner, we went across the street to Marble Slab Creamery for ice cream. Then we made our way back across the street to MacDinton's to watch the game. We were there for maybe 20 minutes when somebody mentioned that cars parked in the plaza next door should probably be moved or there was a possibility of being towed. Guess what happened? Three out of the five of us had been towed. Thankfully, I wasn't one of them (Why? I honestly think it's because they took one look at my car, Jeeves, and figured I wouldn't be able to pay to get it out of impound. thank heaven for perception being reality). So I wound up taking everyone who had been towed over to the impound lot, which is not in a nice part of town, where we learned the fee to retrieve their cars was $162, each, in cash, exact change only. Further adding to the fun was remembering halfway there that I had started running a tab at MacDinton's, which meant I had left my credit card behind...and I was low on gas. Bottom line: My co-workers were seperated from $486 and none of us got home before 1:00 in the morning.
These tow truck/impound lot operators are scumbags. There's no other way around that. They're parasitic scumbags who have figured out a way to steal people's property legally and get paid to do it. As a sidebar to this story, when I lived in Sarasota, I managed a movie theatre that lacked adequate parking and our customers often tried to park in the lots of antique shops across the street, all of whom closed by 6:00PM. These merchants didn't like it and started towing cars. Not the friendliest thing to do, but it's their private property, so fine. Whatever. In an effort to be neighborly and respect their property, and save my customers some grief, I went out and bought great big orange traffic cones and used them to block off the driveways to these lots after they closed. One night, one of my employees told me that a guy in a tow truck was outside taking the cones. See, as it turns out, it wasn't really about keeping people out of the parking lots; it was about towing people's cars out of the lots and then basically demanding ransom to get them back. Nice, huh?
To answer the unasked question, yes, the lot was marked as a tow away zone for people who were not customers of the plaza, but remember we started the evening by eating dinner there. And the thing is that South Howard, or SoHo as the euphemeisters would prefer you call it, is the kind of neighborhood where parking the car and exploring the eclectic collection of shops and restaurants should be encouraged. Heck, our group patronized three of them in the hour we were there. But after last night, it's going to be a long time before any of us think about going back.


MacDinton's Irish Pub said...

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate incident with the towing companies of SoHo. MacDinton's customers are encouraged to park in our lot only due to the tow away situation here in South Tampa. We do offer a complimentary Valet service for all of our customers. I think you should bring your receipt back to the restaurants(Marble Slab, Chipotle) where your cars were parked and have them reimburse your friends for the money they had to pay to get their cars back. MacDinton's understands you and your friends are genuinely upset but please understand it was not MacDinton's that towed the car's.

Why, it's Clark! said...

Thanks for writing. I understand your establishment wasn't responsible for towing the cars. In fact, your staff was pretty helpful to us. But the overall experience has definitely left us with a negative impression of the area and none of us are eager to return.
Think about it; given the choice of A) moving your car less than 50 yards three different times because you want dinner, ice cream and an evening at the pub or B) possibly getting towed and having to shell out over $150 to get your car back or C) going somewhere other than SoHo, what would you do?
For what it's worth, we did ask for help from the manager on duty at Chipotle and he was less than interested in our problem. It's a shame your neighbors don't share your concern for their customers.

Anonymous said...

JGLB still rocks! you're right on about the tow trucks. but forget Soho, check out JGLB!

Elise said...

What was the towing company? The MacDinton's valet staff is being incredibly unhelpful and my car is missing.

Clark Brooks said...

Elise, I don't remember the name of the company but they towed the cars to a big garage on Cass Street, between Orange and Nebraska. Bring cash, exact change, because they don't give change and most ATMs only dispense $20 bills. Like I said, they're scumbags. Good luck.