Of taxis and apple-tinis

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April 12, 2004 // UPDATED 1:16 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Julie Swenson
Julie Swenson

Pride goeth before the tow Downtown

For months now, I've walked by Block E's Le Meridien Hotel feeling a little intimidated, a

little curious and very desperate to know which famous people were there that night. Finally, last Friday, I went inside.

But our story doesn't start with Le Meridien, it starts much earlier in the evening at happy hour with my girlfriends, Takako, a Japanese Barbie Doll, and Jin-Min -- whom I'm pretty sure invented Hello Kitty in a previous life -- at the cozy nearby Imperial Room.

It was thrilling because I found the world's best parking space right in front of the Imperial Room's 1st Avenue North door. Not only was it a great location, this space was at a daytime meter so it was a free parking space when I got there at 7.

I felt like a diplomat or a rock star or something, certainly not the stressed out Geo-driving freelancer I truly am. After each sip of tap beer, we'd gaze out toward my car. Takako and Jin-Min took turns saying, "Wow, what a parking spot. You can't do that in Tokyo or Seoul."

After a couple hours of admiring my parking job, the Imperial Room started to turn into a disco. My jeans were way too tight for dancing, so we had to leave. We said goodbye to my car and walked south on 1st Avenue, toward our destination: Le Meridien's bar.

Walking into that hotel felt like walking into art. I'm going there every time I miss the Walker over the next year. I just love feeling like everything around me is clean, modern and tidy. But there's one thing I'll never get used to: at Le Meridien, the check-in desk, like the bar, is on the fourth floor. Call me small-minded, but it doesn't seem right to go upstairs to check in.

By 10 p.m., we had ordered appletinis and figured out how sit on the giant leather cubes that some designer considered chairs. I had no idea that at the very moment I was gobbling down the fruit balls in my apple-tini, my car, my gem of a Geo, was getting towed from the primo parking space that had brought us so much joy only two hours earlier.

Obviously, I had no idea my car was parked at a taxi stand. I had no idea we had taxi stands in Minneapolis. I thought all the taxi drivers just knew where to go instinctively, that there wasn't something as formal as a no-parking zone for them.

Well I'm here to tell you that's just wrong. We have plenty of taxi stands Downtown and you can't park at any of them. After several rounds of Diet Cokes for me and more 'tinis for my happy hour comrades, we discovered this fact at 1 a.m.

"No problem," I thought, "since we're at a taxi stand, we'll just grab a cab to the impound lot and get this all taken care of, we'll all be home in no time."

The impound lot closed exactly 12 minutes before we pulled up. I pounded on the door like it was half-price day at Nieman's, to no avail. The car, along with my laptop and comfy jeans in the trunk, were all staying overnight Downtown.

The next morning, feeling exhausted after running around all night and wondering where I was going to get the $153 to get my car out of hock, I discovered a delightful surprise. The ladies behind the desk at the impound lot were unbelievably cheerful, and they take checks. I thought they were going to whip out chocolate chip cookies. It was like I had wandered into a neighborhood block party at the impound lot.

I expected disgruntled, angry people to take my money and tell me I was an idiot for not reading the sign, much like the folks I met last time I was there during a snow emergency. No, instead they told me that it was an honest mistake and everyone does it sometimes and that my laptop should still be in my car.

Turns out they were right. It's too bad I won't be visiting them again anytime soon. The next time I go out, I'm taking a taxi. I know where there's a great taxi stand just down 1st Avenue North.

When she's not drinking and taxiing Downtown, Julie Swenson (Julie@abbaspr.com) owns Abbas Public Relations.