Trust Cost Me $193

Day 98 | $50,944 paid | $39,773 till freedom

I stopped by Kasbah at 10:30 PM last night to see some friends, then my buddy drove us all downtown where we went to bars till 2 AM. I came back to the parking lot near Kasbah where I parked my car, and it was completely empty. That’s when I spied a No Parking sign on the side of a nearby building. I called the number listed for the towing company, and they confirmed that they had my car and I could get it out for $193.

When I do something wrong or make a mistake, I learn from it. I don’t beat myself up, and I don’t dwell on it. I admit fault, internalize it, learn from it, and move on. However, last night, when I found out my car had been towed, I had one of those very rare moments in my life when I was so frustrated that I just wanted to destroy something…anything.

Why? Because when I parked my car in the spot at 10:30 PM (yellow and black icon in image above) , a tow truck (black and blue icon–no pun intended…I think?) was idling directly in front of my car. After I parked my car and locked it, I walked over to the tow truck and had the following conversation with the two people sitting inside who had seen me park and lock my car.

Me: Hi, is my car going to get towed if I leave it here?

Passenger: No, you’re fine.

Me: Okay, but even after hours? Like, 2:30? You’re not going to tow it?

Driver: No, you can park there.

Passenger: Yeah, it’s okay.

Me: Okay, thanks a lot.

So when I parked there, I didn’t look around for a No Parking sign (red line in image above)–I went straight to the enforcers to ask, assuming (perhaps naively?) that they would be honest and forthright with me.

I reported this interaction to the towing company that took my car, but the woman at the front desk apologized and told me that those weren’t their people. To her credit, she seemed genuinely sorry, and I think she was actually right–I looked at the tow truck parked out front of the building, donned in the company’s regalia, and it looked nothing like the tow truck driven by the people who told me I could park there. The area where I parked does have lots of restricted lots, and I guess they’re all enforced by various towing companies.

That being said, this surely wasn’t the first night on the beat for the driver of tow truck that told me I could park there, and he almost definitely knew that I couldn’t leave my car there. Yet he let me park there anyway.

My frustration on this one knows no bounds. Is it too much to ask for honesty? Look, I get that people want to make money, but a tow truck driver intentionally misleading a victim so that their buddy benefits? I mean, does he get a kickback for that? There are a ton of illegal/dishonest/unethical/immoral things I could be doing to pay down my student debt right now, and I haven’t done a single one.

As I said earlier, I learn from my mistakes. Did I make a mistake, and if so, what lesson do I take away from this? Don’t trust people? Don’t trust tow truck drivers?

$200 down the drain. Unbelievable. I’m at a loss of words.

(Moment of reflection–I can’t believe I just wrote that entire piece without thoroughly lacing it with the string of violent profanity racing around inside my head right now. 12 hours later and I”m still furious.)

Another Satisfied Customer
Michael and I had another landscaping job on Saturday. It took about five hours. Everything turned out pretty well (before/after pics below), but the gravel bed around the garbage can ended up looking incomplete, even though it was done to the customers’ original specifications. Michael and I probably should have seen this coming and recommended he do a full build-out of the bed when we were still in the planning stages. Anyway, he’s having us come back out to extend the bed. We’ll get paid for that, and he’s going to have us do some other stuff, too. Continued business is a good thing.

The job will net us about $320 in profit or $32/labor hour, so not bad. Unfortunately, I won’t get the full $150 because 1) we bought $90 landscaping software to mock up “After” images, 2) Michael built the quote and I want to make sure he gets compensated for his time, and 3) I spent about $90 on landscaping materials for my own yard yesterday. I got bored last weekend and took out over 300 square feet of sod in my front yard that was patchy and weedy, and this past weekend, Michael and I covered it with mulch.

It was a $90, 6-hour project that didn’t have to be done, but it was completely worth it because it convinced me that I should rip up all of the sod in my yard and go to 100% xeriscape. I’m going to cap most of my sprinkler heads, and replace the sod with mulch and gravel and limestone rock borders. It’ll look good. I can then get rid of my lawn mower, weed whacker, fertilizer spreader, $150+ monthly water bills, and I can get back an hour+ of my time every weekend that would have otherwise been spent mowing my lawn.

This project will take probably 60+ hours for me to do on my own, which is fine, and I would have loved to do it over winter break when I have a week off of work and won’t be flying home. Unfortunately, the material will cost around $1k, so I’ll have to wait until I pay off off my debt to undertake this project. I’m looking forward to it.

General Malaise
What I thought was short-term post-holiday funk has lingered for longer than I thought it would. Looking in general at the past few weeks, I just feel…I don’t know…not good.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m in month #4 of living like a pauper, maybe it’s that cheap coffee dates at Starbucks suck, or maybe it’s that I’ve become jaded with society and money and material goods and wealth and status and climbing the ladder and social mobility and all that, or conversely that I sold my motorcycle, roadbike, and car.

Maybe it’s all of that.

I don’t know. All I know is that I’m feeling a bit…down.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Trust Cost Me $193

  1. Mike

    Don’t beat yourself up over the towing. You got off lighter than me!

    I had parked in downtown Austin for a date. I parked shortly after 5PM near a restaurant. There was a parking sign nearby advising of free unlimited parking after 5PM (limited to one hour before 5PM). My date and I had a long dinner of about two hours, then I returned to my vehicle. The car was gone. A police officer standing nearby pointed to a “special event” paper *taped-on* sign advising of no parking after 6:30PM due to an event that night — which I still swear to this day *showed up after I had parked the vehicle*!

    I had to pay over $200 to get the car out.

    Suffice to say, I now avoid parking in downtown Austin like the plaque.

    Frankly, these kinds of things happen. As you said in your post, you learn from it and move on. Hopefully you adjust your behavior accordingly, and maybe you write off a quick letter to local businesses to let them know.

  2. GT

    So, what’s the resale value of the lawn mower, weed whacker and any other piece of equipment currently used to maintain your garden?

    Watering @ $150 a month plus the resale value of the equipment easily pays a large chunk of your xeroscape bill, yet you are putting it off until all the debt is paid. If you do the bare minimum now you should be able to save some money towards the debt, and post debt you can add in some funky rocks or desert plants to finish the job.

    • I wish I could justify it like that…

      However, I’ve turned off the sprinklers and I’m just going to let the grass die–I really don’t care what it looks at this point. In July I’ll do the landscaping.

  3. As far as the malaise, make sure you’re getting the basics right. I have had similar experiences and thought about what I was eating and how much exercise I was getting and it made sense that I wasn’t feeling great. Hope this helps!

  4. Alex F

    NMHD, about 6 weeks ago you inspired me to sign up for the Seattle Marathon. I knocked it out last weekend in 3:59:55! Just under my 4 hour goal. I thought I could do it, but I wasn’t prepared for how cool a feeling it was to run through the middle of my city with hundreds of other people. We were all willing ourselves to finish and we did, mostly. It was awesome. Thanks for the inspiration.

    I appreciate the blog. Sometimes things just suck for a while…hope it lifts soon.

  5. P. Hunter

    This is a normal funk. think about it.Out of the possible millions of US citizens with student loan debt, you are one of the few actively paying it down in less than a year’s time. You are going against everything TV, radio, internet, etc says you should spend your time and money on. Its a lonely road, but the road to success generally has few travelers willing to cross the dizzying mountains and deep valleys.

    In June/July, you will look back and laugh…laugh like you never laughed before. And realize what some people pay off or battle against for 40+ years, you did in less than one. I can guess your next debt payment (no you won’t stop lol, its like a drug). Your house will be the next one you pay down, maybe not as hardcore but you will figure “why have any debt if I paid off a 90K student loan debt?”

    • Man, I can’t wait to laugh…

      And I’d by lying if I told you I wasn’t thinking about accelerating my mortgage pay-off. You’re right, it won’t be as hardcore as this, but the thought of always having a place to call my own that nobody can take away from me…no matter where I go or what I do, as long as I pay the property tax (and don’t get sued…), I’ll always have a home. It’s a pleasant thought. If I do the debt snowball, I’ll have another $1053 to put on my monthly mortage and property tax payment of $1,440…I think the property tax portion of that is about $300 (it’s high in Texas), so I’d be almost doubling my mortgage payment, which means I could pay it down in ~14 years instead of 29. Interesting…

  6. Sarah L

    Agreed. I actually feel similar right now. Now that I’ve gotten my finances mostly in order and cut back a lot of my spending, I feel so…idk…bored? Discontent? Unsatisfied? Maybe a combination of all three.

    I think (and I’m still processing these thoughts so they may not be articulated well) that I had previously found some of my identity or worth in what I had, or what clothing I was wearing, or just how people thought of me. Embracing the fact that flashier brands and cooler products wouldn’t really make me any happier was very liberating, but now I just feel a little strange, because it’s like I’ve lost a little sense of self.

    Furthermore, and I didn’t see this one coming by a long shot, but I’ve found that I now feel guilty spending any non-necessary money on myself. Um, what? This has never been a problem for me before, ha. But all of a sudden, I have so much guilt when it comes to spending money. I wonder if my newly enlightened self realizes that I have all I need, and the money could go to a much worthier cause than myself. For me, that cause is helping out the needy in my community. For you, it’s paying down your debt.

    Feeling guilty all the time is exhausting. You previously said that you struggle to identify what living within your means looks like to you, I struggle with enjoying the fruit of my labor while so many people could use the money just to provide for their basic needs. There’s nothing wrong with spending my money, especially since I save & invest a good chunk of it first. So why can’t I enjoy buying a new pair of shoes?

    This might not be exactly how you’re feeling, but I’m glad that I got to process how I was feeling. Oh and for what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re whining. I think you’re simply adjusting to your situation and though your brain may have processed the change, your emotions might not have caught up with it yet. Not to feed into the female stereotype, but don’t shut down feelings just because they may feel like whining. Emotions are legitimate and reveal a lot to us about what we actually value-things that may not have been brought to the conscious surface for us yet.

    • There’s a lot to chew on in your comment. I haven’t really given myself much of an opportunity to splurge–I wouldn’t call fixing my car splurging, or paying for an occassional drinki splurging, either, so I can’t say I have experienced a lot of guilt. I do completely agree that my spending was tied to my identity to a certain extent, but I would have thought that by month four, I would have figured that out and changed my identity. I also have another theory that I’ll write about in my next post.

  7. Diana

    maybe there’s a timeframe on how long the hedonsitic adaption thing is going to take, hence, the funk. Or, it could be that getting your car towed is the single most frustrating waste of money that I can think of. My bf and I got towed 3 years ago after parking in one of those lots where the tow trucks just lurk, it was like $350 to get the car back because of some “after hours” bullshit. when we found out how much it was going to cost- BF flew into an uncontrollable rage and I stood there and cried like a baby. I had no idea we fit gender roles so neatly. I would say you’ll get over it, but i’m still not over the $350 we paid that long ago….

    • there’s gotta be, right? i’m guessing that takes awhile…great story, btw :) I wanted to fly into a rage, but I think I was too shocked for it. I really don’t know how I held it together so well on Saturday night. In my mind, I sort of said “Screw NMHD” and realized that $193 wouldn’t be a huge, huge deal if I weren’t doing NMHD. It would still suck, but it’s not like I don’t have the money. It’s a somewhat dangerous mentality to take, but if I hadn’t taken it, then I might have gotten really upset, and that would have been even more dangerous!

  8. AnaD

    Hey, I know how you feel. Sometimes I just feel low without really knowing why. It’s not fun… (& the towing ticket must’ve felt like a kick when you’re down! ugh. That stinks :-/)
    I read your blog post earlier this evening and then not too long ago this song came on my shuffling pandora playlist: Josh Wilson “Before the Morning”. I’d never heard it -or of him- before but liked the lyrics and they kinda seem to apply to your sometimes-depressing situation of working through your debt…toward a great goal! Hope it encourages you :-)
    (*Disclaimer: I have NO idea what kind of music you like…*)

  9. Carolyn

    Not even sure you are reading your comments now. I just stumbled across your blog and have been reading from bottom up. Regarding your mortgage. Refinance (at some point) to a 15 year mortgage, your payment increase but will not double, and you’ll automatically chop off 10+ years. If you don’t want to commit to the payments associated with 15 years, 20 year mortages are becoming more common these days.

    • I’m definitely reading every single comment word-for-word–I just don’t have the time to reply right now :-/ Thanks for the mortgage advice; I’m planning to refi soon to a 15-yr. It makes so much sense!

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