Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stuck... Twice.

I rarely get "stuck." At least there are few times I've been stuck that used to come to mind... that was until the last four days. In the last four days, I have been seriously stuck... twice.

This past weekend, I enjoyed a fabulous first trip to Seattle. The sun was shining brightly, we had fun friends to schmooze with, and we loved exploring the city. Highlights included Pike Place, Belltown shops, Macrina Bakery, Wild Ginger restaurant, and Rain Sushi.

On Saturday afternoon, we were convinced by friends (after a beer) to go on the duck tour. Have you been on a duck tour before in Seattle? In another city? I went on one a long, long time ago in Boston and must admit, was not overly enthusiastic to embark on another. But I caved into the peer pressure and we headed to the duck nest (do ducks nest?).

The tour was somewhat informative (we learned about the sports teams, Seattle's 217 Starbucks, landmarks, and more). However, our driver was somewhat irritating with his frequent costume changes and cheesy humor. I also got a little bit bored with our road tour and slightly considered a nap... After about an hour on land, our duck headed into the water. This part is always the coolest. In about a minutes time, our land duck had tranformed into a sea duck. Our duck drove around looking at the floating homes, live-aboards, and house boats (and also learning about the difference). It was very cool to see the home where Sleepless in Seattle was set!

Just as we were almost back at the boat ramp, our driver/tour-guide started to say that our propeller (or some similar piece that I wasn't sure what it was...) had stopped functioning. I didn't pay much notice at first and assumed he was just trying to be entertaining. Five minutes later though, I realized that we really were stuck.

Our driver started walkie-talkying with the duck boat home base. We could all overhear his conversation and their responses came through very jumbled and impossible to understand. Eventually, he decided that he had confirmation that they were sending a "healthy" duck with a tow boat. In the meantime, a few other occupied ducks drove past us. The "tourists" on the boats decided that a new attraction on their tour was our silly-looking stuck duck boat. They quickly started snapping photos of us. The six of us in my group started simultaneosly posting Facebook status updates about our stuck duck and our need to pee.

And our driver decided to start a "name that theme song" game. Nobody seemed too into the game as I think most were hoping to get our boat moving in the near future and to avoid any claustrophobia fears. Our crew was pretty excited to sing to the Fresh Prince theme song though and dance along.

About 30 minutes passed before another duck appeared with a tow rope. We all cheered in relief and were slowly pulled to shore. They then had us disembark our duck boat and climb aboard another that was safe to drive. It felt nice to be back on solid ground!

The driver of our new duck might have been more annoying than the driver of the first. At least he had a silly joke about a duck buying lipstick at Nordstrom and the cashier asking if he should "put the lipstick on her bill" ;) When we got back, the photo crew was waiting for us (they must have been waiting much longer than usual!) trying to sell us group "before" shots. These pictures were taken as we boarded our duck more than two hours before. The photo was priced at $27 and when we asked for the pic for free as compensation, they said they were a different company than the duck tours. When I asked the guy wearing a Duck Tours polo if he could get the photo for us, he said the photo crew was a different company. We already knew this... I wanted to go back the next day to ask for our money back but ended up getting too wrapped up in being a Seattle tourist to make the trek back.

Whose duck gets stuck anyways?!

Tonight (Tuesday), I headed to a meeting at the Fairmont. I was psyched to find a parking spot about an eighth of a mile away. I parked fairly close to the car in front of me to avoid my car touching any part of the white curb behind my car. I tend to get a lot of parking tickets in San Francisco. I've had $40 or so for not turning my wheels the right way, $50 for parking in the "light pink," $100 for not sporting a front license plate (they could have opted for the $10 fix-it ticket), and two $50 tickets for street cleaning. Needlesss to say, I am very careful now not to get a parking ticket...

So, happy with my spot, I headed into my meeting. The meeting was great and I enjoyed a yummy glass of red wine but all of this is irrelevant...

When I returned to my car around 9:15 PM, I was clearly totally blocked in. Someone had not only parked in the white zone behind me, they had only left about 2 inches between their car and mind. I stopped three nice-looking guys walking along the street to ask them if there was any way that I could get out of the spot. They jokingly suggested a few super-human tricks to free my car but said, realistically, I was stuck. They recommended that I head into one of the nearby hotels to see if they had any tips.

I headed into a nearby hotel (or apartment building?) on California and met my hero of the night, Jack. Jack came out to my car to check out the situation and was the fourth to tell me there was absolutely no way I was getting out of that spot. So, Jack and I decided that I should call the Department of Parking and Traffic and the Police Department. When I couldn't get through to anyone at the DPT, I called the police who matched me in to a live person.

I felt a little bad ratting out the car behind me to the DPT with all of my own parking ticket woes. I also hoped this this would not negatively affect my parking karma. However, my parking karma seems pretty bad already so I figured it couldn't hurt too much. The DPT took down the color, make, and license plate number of the car behind me and said they'd see what they could do. They weren't sure how long it might take though.

Meanwhile, I was thinking about Ruggles at home and longing to be hanging out with him and even doing a little much-needed work. At this point, I was feeling fairly stranded in the city though.

Right before I left the scene of my car and my buddy Jack to try to meet up with some friends to kill some time, I saw someone approaches the car in front of me. When she opened the door, I was super happy and relieved. Maybe I would get home afterall!

Then she got into her car and she sat... and sat... and sat... For at least 5 minutes, she was sitting in the driver's seat and seeming to write text messages on her phone. I'm not sure if she was worried about being able to fit out of the spot or just chilling and writing some texts.

From across the street, I saw Jack watching the whole scene. I honked once lightly at the other car but it still did not budge. Then, Jack came across the street, dodging the traffic headed in both directions. I let him know that I was just waiting patiently for her to leave. So he politely went up to her window and helped direct her up forwards so that I could finally squeeze my Mini Cooper out of the tiniest parking space. When I was finally home free, I yelled out a huge "thank you" to Jack and smiled!

Be careful and be prepared because you never know when you might get stuck!

You might need a floatie to swim away from a stuck duck or a huge, strong man to push a parked car (emergency brake and all) out of your way!

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