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The Saint of Towed Cars


Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

I noticed the license plate as the local police slid the hoist under the car. Then when the tow truck roughly yanked the car to the right and then lifted it up, I saw it even more clearly, P for Portugal. I immediately thought of the poor tourist checking out of her nearby hotel, preparing herself for the long drive home and then turning the corner into the Calle Zurbaran only to find another car parked where she had left hers three days ago. She would thinking, had hers been stolen? No, it couldn’t have been. The car definitely wasn’t new and she had been deliberately careful to leave nothing visible. Had it been parked illegally? No, no signs or blue paint on the road. In fact she remembered feeling terribly lucky that she had found a free parking spot so close to her hotel and as everything she had needed was within walking distance, she had completely forgotten about her ride home during her visit. My hand fumbled in my pocket, looking for my phone but then I remembered reading something about the new gag laws they were passing here in Spain and the terrible fines that they could now give for taking pictures of the police at their work. The threat worked, I thought twice and left my hand where it was. I looked around for some explanation as to why they were towing this tourist’s car and then the thud of nearby drums triggered my memory, it was Semana Santa, Holy Week. Three days ago, her car had been fine but little scrawled signs probably went up in the middle of the night and now this tourist was going to have to pay more than her gas to get home. In a year that reeks of elections and when there is so much talk of transparency and facilitating information to the people, which is all well and good, profound changes need to be made in the way that locals and tourists alike are informed about day to day things in our fine city. Catovis (life-long Cacereños) and procession-goers might know that the procession of the Saint of Old Shoes goes up Zurbaran street on Easter Friday but what about Almudena from Lisbon? If, in our desire to attract more tourism we want to hang out the No Vacancy sign, we should make sure that other signs are clear too.

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