SPY vs. DC Department of Public Works: A Mystery

Gather round young reader(s), and I will tell you a tale of divine intervention, intrigue and mystery that took place in our very District last week. Okay, fine. It’s more like a RANT about DC incompetence that was only resolved by the GRACE of GOD. It will have little educational value for you, but will be cathartic for me. I hope you find it amusing:

 Last Tuesday, Ironcityspy’s car went missing. It was parked in a safe non-street cleaning spot on Swann Street. Since he doesn’t drive to work, we only noticed its absence after work on Wednesday. We inspected the scene. There was no broken glass or evidence of a break in, only a construction sign tightly wound around the parking pole near it’s base. We couldn’t actually read the sign but we knew: we were effing towed. Ironcity went online, it said the car was towed to U and 15th Streets. We looked all around that area, it was nowhere. Everything was closed at that point, so we waited until the next day.

Ironcityspy inspecting the scene

Thursday: Wake up super early, check online. It said it was moved to 16th and Swann. Look around, the car is also not there. Ironcity begins calling around. He talks to two people at DC Department of Public Works (DPW), the department that handles all DC towing and impoundment. One person says the car isn’t in the system and the other says it has been impounded and to call 311 for more details. The towing company itself had no record of the car since it was towed in May 2010 (our only other DC tow). His phone dies. He tells me to figure out what lot the car was impounded in.

I begin calling. First of all, let me level with you: 311, 202-576-6071 (the towing DMV number), 202-541-6068 (the impound number), and every transfer in between, ALL lead you back to 202-541-6083. If your car is towed, just call that number. It’s DPW Customer Service. Save yourself the hassle.

Department of Public Works in action

Anyways, so I call all the above numbers and they all lead me back to this DPW lady who insists that my car isn’t in the system and I need to call the police. She said she spoke to Ironcity already and that both the internet and and the other person he spoke to were wrong. Every number I call leads back to her. She starts recognizing my voice and continues to hold her ground. In an act of desperation, I call back once more to plead that she looks again. Another person picks up. This person says the car has been towed and is in Lot #5 on 15th Street NE. They are open until 7pm.

EXHALE. Finally, after being on the phone from 9-11:30am, I got an answer. Having to attend to my actual job, I figured I would complain about the other woman later. Ironcity and I were in meetings until 6:30pm, we planned on picking the car the next morning at 7am. We were assured this was fine.

ironcityspy's car is found! (approximation)

7:00pm, Thursday: I get a call from Ironcity. “My car is on New Hampshire.” I am confused. What? He repeats, “my car is on New Hampshire Avenue NW and R Street, I just happened to walk by and see it. It was ‘courtesy towed,’ no tickets.’” Jesus EFFING Christ.

So dear reader(s), it was not stolen. It was not in Lot #5 15th Street NE. It was not on 15th and U Street. It was not on 16th and Swann Street. It was 4 blocks from where we parked it, in a location that if we hadn’t discovered by PURE CHANCE, no entity in DC would have known where it was. We would have gone to that lot #5, which has no telephone number, and looked like idiots.

The information in the “system” was from our last tow in May. A “system” that is broken. But at least now I feel better. Thanks DC.

3 thoughts on “SPY vs. DC Department of Public Works: A Mystery

  1. Sweet Lord Jesus what a terrifying story. But LOVE the caption for Ironcity’s car.

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