April 2, 2011

The Car Story!

My friend and I went to a music conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this last week. Six days of music, classes, good food and shopping. It was a great time of learning for us, and we learned more than music. For example, did you realize that you need to be aware of every detail when you park a rental car in a parking garage in a city that you have never been to before?

My friend and I were looking for cheap parking. That was probably our first downfall. The parking at the hotel where our conferences were being held was $25 a day! Outrageous! So, when we saw a sign close to the hotel for $10 a day and discounts on the weekend, we whipped into it. Of course, we already had a ticket by the time we realized this was probably not a good place. It was very run down and small. I even had to back up to make a couple of the turns going up the ramps. (Please note this was NOT because of the driver's expertise or lack thereof!) After we got into the garage, we realized that "public parking" was not until the 5th floor which happens to be - the rooftop! It was snowing, 30* outside with a 20 mph wind, and did I mention yet that neither my friend or I brought a coat with us to Wisconsin?

We finally parked the car right under a light as close to the stairway as possible. We were running a little late due to direction malfunctions while trying to locate the hotel, and so we rushed down the stairway and out the door. When we opened the door, we found the street name we were on. At least we did remember to do that! We were on the corner of Michigan and 6th. The hotel was within sight, and so we rushed across the street through the snow and wind - with no coats.

We had a lovely first day at our conference! Around 3 o'clock, we decided we were ready to do some shopping, and so we headed out the door to the parking garage. First problem - our hotel takes up a literal block. You can walk out one door and be on a totally different street than if you walked out another. We did not take note of the door we walked in that morning or out that afternoon. We walked out assuming it was the same door we walked in and followed our route to the parking garage. This did not work! Do you realize how many parking garages there are within a few blocks of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Milwaukee? LOTS!!! After walking toward three different ones, absolutely sure that THIS would be the one, we became quite frustrated and discouraged. Keep in mind it's still only 32*, and we have no coats. We are dressed in business style outfits (including shoes). We have now walked downtown Milwaukee for over an hour and still have no idea where the stupid car is!

My friend finally decides she is going to call our car rental company and see if they have a GPS on the car that could tell us where we parked it! They reply, "Ummmm....nooooooooo," as if that was the stupidest question they had ever been asked. We finally went back to the hotel lobby and asked for a map of the city. I found where all we had walked, and we decided to systematically walk the areas we had not been to yet. Keep in mind - we KNOW we parked only a block or less from this hotel! Very frustrating! We marked on the map where we wanted to look next. The next big question was how to get out the right hotel door so that we did not have to spend any more time walking outside in the freezing cold than necessary. By this time, we were so confused, we couldn't even figure that part out. We finally asked the doorman at one of the doors. Of course, his first question is, "Where are you going?" Try answering that question when you really have no idea what the answer is. We finally decided honesty is the best policy and confessed our situation. Believe it or not, he knew exactly which parking garage we were parked in, walked us to the other side of the hotel and showed us our parking garage from the hotel door! That's how close we were.

I wish I could say this was the end of our story, but alas, it is not. We walked toward the parking garage, discovering along the way, that our mistake was that we did not include north or south in the street name we took note of. We were parked on 6th Street South, but had been looking for the garage on 6th Street North! We finally reached the garage, but now could not locate an unlocked door to go up the stairs to our car. We walked around the entire outside of the garage twice before finally deciding to walk up the car ramp to get to the car. When we reached level 1, we were able to locate the staircase and walk up to level 5! YAY! We finally arrived - only to find the door was frozen shut. Yes, folks, it is the truth! The door was open a crack but would not open anymore. We pulled. We kicked. We pried. My friend even wrapped her purse straps around the door knob, and we heaved together. It would not open! Remember, when we first parked, we realized it was kind of a creepy place. By now, we were close to panicked. It is almost 5 o'clock. We are in an unknown city in a parking garage that is creeping us out. We've been walking the town for almost two hours. Our fingers are so numb we cannot feel anything anymore. We finally decided to walk back down the stairs to level 4 and then walk up the car ramp to level 5 where we finally see our beautiful car - the best sight we've seen in awhile! We had to sit in the car for a few minutes to let our fingers thaw and our feet rest!

We did learn our lesson well. The next day, we went to a market place. Before we got out of the car, we wrote down every single detail of where we were and what was around us. We made it back to the car with no problems! We also found a parking area right across the front door of the hotel, and we parked there the rest of the week for just a couple of dollars more each day! We decided it was worth the extra money! It turned out to be a wonderful six days. And thankfully, when we returned the rental car, there was no mention of "Oh, I see you found the car!"

I hope you enjoyed a laugh! We certainly did! Have a great weekend....and don't forget where you parked your car!


  1. Only Christy!!! Y'all were really dumb to not bring a coat! You take a coat to WI in July. :) Glad y'all had fun!!


  2. I know. We both realized this by the time we met at the gas station, but we didn't really have time to do anything about it. I had even washed mine just so that I could bring it with me, but in the rush I walked out without it. I did find a brown coat (which I have been looking for all winter) for $15 on the sale's rack at Kohls. So during the last three days I was nice and cozy!

  3. We did something similar in Vegas. Had to walk up the ramp to get to our car to. Dark alley, Vegas, late at night...Not fun!