I was parked in one of the non-registered spots in the middle of the lot. I arrived about 10:15 (I'm guessing at the time from IM messages to Brad). At 11:50 or so, I went out to the parking lot, exhausted from hacking, and discovered that my car was missing. I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. I checked the other cars in the parking lot (quickly, because there were only four of them), and considered walking around the block to check whether I had parked elsewhere, but I clearly remembered where I had parked in the lot.
Then I got enough of a grip to realize that it might have been towed instead of stolen. I went back up to Apple, called Lori to come pick me up, and called the towing company. Their answering machine redirected me to another number, which connected me to an actual human driving a tow truck. He confirmed that he had towed a grey Honda Accord. He told me that it would require $140 to release the car, cash-only. I asked how to go about contesting the charge, since I was an Apple employee and had been working there. He said that he was just an employee, and the boss who was authorized to make such decisions was out of town until Monday, so my best approach was to pay the $140 and then take it up with the boss on Monday. He was pleasant and apologized for the inconvenience.
I was, however, worried about getting ripped off, so before Lori and I left Apple, I printed up two copies of a note that said, in effect, "I towed Ralph's car tonight; he paid me $140 to retrieve it; he showed me his Apple badge proving that he's an Apple employee." My intention was to build an ironclad case for arguing with the boss, or for taking him to small claims court if necessary.
As Lori and I left, she realized that she had a flat tire. (Not out of air, but very low.) I found a penny in the parking lot, and she quoted "find a penny, pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck." I pointed out that since it was just after midnight, we'd get almost 24 hours of good luck, and boy we could sure use it.
We went into the BP next door, but their air machine was out of order; fortunately, the Citgo up the street had a working air machine. But it really seemed that we were
I withdrew cash from the Dollar ATM and we headed down to the intersection in Hazelwood that the guy on the phone had given us. We then called him on Lori's cell phone, and he said that he would drive by in a couple minutes and we were to follow him. This seemed very cloak-and-daggerish, but I guess it was easier than having him try to give directions on the phone.
Once we got there, the guy was totally obliging; he apologized for the inconvenience and didn't charge me anything. He said that he had no way of knowing that I was there, because the Apple lights were dark; I pointed out that the lights for the common area were visible from the street side, but not from the parking lot side. (The next time I'm there late, I'll turn on the lights in Roger's office.)
I asked if it would have helped for me to have displayed the parking permit more prominently. I didn't completely follow his response because I was pretty tired, but I think he said, "No, we had no way of knowing that there was anyone there."
He did give me a business card and suggested that I display it on the dash as a hint to them for the future.