Thinking Man: Dude, Where's Your Car?
6/05/05
By Steve Hofstetter

Do you know those keychain voice recorders they used to advertise? Typically the commercials are on a Saturday afternoon, during a news program that recaps all the old news, preventing it from being news anymore.

The purpose of the voice recorder was to save information quickly – like a grocery list, where you parked, or where you left the remote control so you can change the channel from this terrible program.

Now most cell phones come with voice recording capabilities, but I have never used my phone to record the location of my car. I figure if I am smart enough to remember to carry my phone, I am smart enough to remember where I parked.

I live in an apartment in Los Angeles with fellow comedian Adam Hunter. He and I are very similar and very different simultaneously, and our friends all say we would make a good sitcom. The cool part is, unlike every roommate pairing in America who's friends say that (read: every roommate pairing in America), our professions might actually make that happen.

Anyway, I was supposed to stay home this past Monday night; I was tired from hiking earlier in the day. But Adam invited me to a comedy show in Universal Studios, and I didn't have any good reason to say no, mainly because I can't see the future.

When we arrived, we were instructed to park in the first available area, which was coincidentally next comedian John Roy. We were late, so we quickly ran to the show.

That show was not the important part. After Adam got off stage, he and I left. What we didn't know was that there are three garages in Universal Studios, and we had no idea where we'd parked.

In fairness, we've all done this (some on sitcoms, already). Coincidentally, the time I lost my car was because I was late for a show at the Universal Studios in Orlando. But I was still not prepared to spend three hours walking Universal Studios in LA feeling like an idiot.

We started in the garage closest to us. It wasn't until we checked to see if there was another garage that we even noticed Curious George on the wall. Apparently, the painted characters are the way to tell the difference between the garages. If you're Curious George as to why, Universal Studios has a long tradition of opting for kitsch over intelligence.

We retraced our conversation sparked by places we'd passed on the way in, which led us to the second garage called""get this""Jurassic Parking. Our ability to find Adam's car was also extinct. We called John but he didn't pick up. Maybe he'd been eaten by an animatronic raptor.

We tried Curious George again. Then Jurassic. And back. And back again. Why do we keep looking in the same place for things? This wasn't car keys, this was a car. We'd have noticed it. By this time, I knew where everyone else's car was, just not ours.

Whenever we asked the guards for help, their answer was always the same: "Do you know where you parked?" If we remembered where we parked, we wouldn't have said, "Excuse me, we don't know where we parked." Though I couldn't call the guards stupid – we were the ones who misplaced two tons of metal.

John still didn't answer his phone. So we flagged down two girls and asked them to drive us around. In an unlikely twist that makes for a better column, our new hosts were a white rapper and an Armenian girl who couldn't speak English, but nodded whenever anyone else spoke. Why not?

While driving around the third garage (denoted by pictures of Frankenstein, of course), MC White Chick explained to us that maybe it was fate, and Adam lost his car to prevent him from getting into an accident. Adam said it was either that or because he was an idiot. The Armenian girl nodded.

In an unlikelier twist, we drove right by John. The good news was he didn't ignore our calls – he left his phone in his car. Which he couldn't find.

We parted ways with the girls, added John to our crew, and hunted for both cars on foot. Garage to garage to garage, I finally suggested that the cars may have been towed. We went to the security office to check, and were told that the staff would find our cars for us. A half hour later, they did. But not before asking if we remembered where we parked.

The cars were around a far corner on the basement floor of Jurassic Parking and we were relieved. Partly because we found the cars, and partly because there were seven other people following the security guard looking for theirs.

In addition to the layout of Universal Studios, we learned a valuable lesson. If you can't remember where you parked your car, please use the recorder on your phone to remind you.

Though that only works if you don't leave your phone in your car.

Steve Hofstetter is the author of the Student Body Shots books, which are available at SteveHofstetter.com. He can be e-mailed at steve@stevehofstetter.com.