There are a thousand Christmas stories in the naked city, and this is one of them. It's a tale about a brain misfire that could have resulted in a huge expense and a terrible inconvenience, but instead, thanks to a kind gesture by a police employee, seemed like a Christmas blessing.
Here's what happened: My friends from Kansas, Linda Schlegel and Robin Hawkins, came to Colorado Springs with Linda's mom for a Christmas shopping trip. On Saturday, after they lunched at the Ritz, Robin, Linda and I agreed to meet at Colorado College for the annual art show and sale. We got together, spent some money and then headed for the west side in my car. In Old Colorado City, we strolled Colorado Avenue, leaving a money trail behind us. Here's one place we visited:
Feeling shopped out, we dropped in at Meadow Muffins for a quick one. While sitting there, I mentioned the time, 4:45, which immediately brought horror to their faces. Seems they'd parked Linda's mother's van on Tejon Street, where the Parade of Lights was to take place within the hour. The signs had said to move vehicles from there by 2:30 or be towed. Robin and Linda had incorrectly remembered the sign saying 4:30; either way, they were now in trouble.
We jumped into my car and sped across town, but, of course, were too late. Turns out that starting at 2:30 and continuing for an hour, the cops walked up and down, checking every store in that vicinity of Tejon, looking for the driver of the van. They then called a tow truck but had it sit there until 4, hoping the owner would show. The officer at the scene gave us a card with the impound lot's phone number.
Heading for the lot, Linda called the number, only to get a message noting the lot's hours were 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. As we wondered what to do, a Randy's tow driver pulled in, his truck loaded with another car. I asked him about the white van parked on North Tejon. "Yep," he said. "I towed it."
Well, it never hurts to ask, so I called police dispatch, asking to speak to the Gold Hill division duty sergeant. The dispatcher, Leslie, asked what my problem was. I explained that my out-of-town shopping friends had gotten Linda's mom's van towed, and how this was a big problem, as her mother is in a wheelchair and relies on the van — and they all needed to return to Kansas the next day, Sunday. Instead of blowing us off, which she could have, considering the Christmas parade was getting under way, Leslie put out the story through channels. To make a long story short, Linda was soon in touch with Jennifer Taylor, the impound supervisor.
To get the van that night required her mom's insurance and other information, so we headed for the hotel where they were staying, the Crowne Plaza. While there, we noticed a lot of people flocking in, dressed in their finest. The hotel was hosting several Christmas parties that evening, including ones thrown by Heuberger Motors and King Soopers. And the hotel was decked out for the holiday:
Back to the impound lot, Linda learned that Jennifer had interrupted a family Christmas gathering to help her retrieve the van. That's what I call above and beyond. She also found out that the Christmas parade usually results in having several vehicles towed. But the ending for Linda made us all very thankful. While she had envisioned her memory lapse costing her $500, what with impound fees and an extra night's lodging, meals, etc., the damage was only $150 for the tow, impound and a parking ticket. We all figured it was a blessing, indeed.
From the time we found the van at 5, it took only four hours for Linda to drive it away from the lot. Which goes to show that the holiday spirit can touch even the Police Department, and that things sometimes work out just fine. Merry Christmas!