An expensive lesson learnt

Trip Start Dec 06, 2006
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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lesson 1: Always read the sign
Lesson 2: Where there's a sign, it should be read
Lesson 3: Read it carefully
Lesson 4: Take action, bearing in mind the information written on it
Lesson 5: Remember that sign I was talking about, read it.

Yesterday I had a nice lie in and then pottered off back to the airport reversing the directions given and travelling a lot lighter than when I arrived in LA. I was heading to pick up the hire car and had no trouble getting the shuttle bus and signing away my life to the evil car rental people. They were having a few dramas whilst I was there; apparently they'd gained a stolen car. After the usual paperwork I was told to go outside to the Compact section and pick a car.

Choose a car, any car you like. As long as it's red. It wasn't even a joke, there was only one car in the compact section so that made the choice of car fairly easy. Someone just after me came out and probably ended up with a free upgrade so maybe I should have tactically dawdled. Never mind, it had four wheels and an engine and other than the steering wheel being on the wrong side it seemed to be in perfect working order. So I ended up with a Pontiac coupe which hasn't got the best visibility but should be ok for fuel consumption compared to some of the alternative gas guzzlers knocking about.

I drove back to Hollywood and called in to get some grub at the grocery store (that's a supermarket, keep reading for more quirky American sayings) and then headed back to the hostel. It was a bit before the free on street parking kicked in so I fumbled together enough change, fed a meter and headed in for the night.

Today I was up bright and early as I fancied taking advantage of the wheels and also getting in a bit of driving. I also needed to be up due to it being left in a metered spot. So, off I tootled out to chuck a bit of change in the meter to give me a chance to get some brekkie before heading off. Only one problem... NO CAR. It was at this point I read the signs that I'd previously glanced at in the dark. The ones saying that it was a tow away zone and that any cars parked there after 9pm would be towed. In my defence I'd read the signs on the street opposite and further along the same street and those spaces would have been fine. No wonder it was easy to get a space. Hmmm, great, I've no excuses really, I'm just plain stupid.

Then the fun and games would begin. I tried calling to find out where it was from my mobile. After a long wait being told my call was important I ran out of credit. I then tried calling to top it up and was told that my credit card wouldn't be accepted. I then remembered the freephone number on the rental agreement and gave them a call. The nice man listened attentively to my sob story and called LAPD for me about the gangsta problems I was having with my ride and found out where it was.

Not quite the start to the day I was looking for, a 2 mile walk and a $185 bill to pay. Talk about kicking a man when he's down, the car had a parking ticket on it. Another 50 bucks, you'd think they'd have the decency to cancel it as they STOLE MY CAR.

After those laughs I thought I'd get back to the original plan and headed off south for a drive. I drove down the coast towards San Diego and had a wander on a beach to see how the Pacific Ocean was doing from the other side. I then drove on and in theory was trying to get somewhere near San Diego but ended up at a Westfield Mall (that's a shopping centre, crazy isn't it?). I went to see an exhibition on the human body which was the plastination (??) stuff that crazy German bloke was doing where it's real people's bodies but they look like plastic. Or chicken. It's a bit freaky but it was interesting to look at the magical bit of kit we all use every day. Makes you think that it's worth looking after as a few of the body bits were unhealthy and it gave the reasons behind it. I pondered that whilst I tucked in to some enchiladas with lashings of cheese. Mmmm fatty cheese. I did learn that my American dream of gaining 10 stone so that I could then lose it and stand in one leg of my fat boy trousers could be difficult to achieve. It takes 3,500 calories above the normal amount to gain 1 pound, so I'm looking at stuffing almost an extra half a million calories. I think I'm going to have to give up on that one.

I had a quick wander about the shops, saw that there's plenty nice Nike's to add to the shopping list and then headed back to the car and attempted to drive downtown San Diego. I ended up somewhere on the East Side heading towards the Mexican border I think. I turned around and thought I'd done enough driving and headed back to LA. I wasn't too worried about seeing the centre of San Diego, I'd seen the coast and some countryside on the way and that was enough for the day. It wasn't really surprising I missed it as I didn't have a map. Where's the fun in a road trip with a map?
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