Why do I get the boot?

Announcer: Go behind the wheel and under the hood on everything automotive with High Speed Stuff from www.HowStuffWorks.com. Scott: Hi everybody, welcome to the show. I'm Scott Benjamin, the Auto Editor here at www.HowStuffWorks.com.

Ben: And my name is Ben Bowlin, and I write some videos here.

Scott: Fantastic. Well I think that's all we need this hour.

Ben: Yeah, well I think they're okay.

Scott: Yeah, well they're good stuff. Don't sell yourself short.

Ben: Oh thanks, man.

Scott: Hey, we got another listener request that I think we should talk about. This may be a quick one, I think - I think. We jinx it with that usually.

Ben: All right. Well knock on wood, or something.

Scott: Yeah, exactly. This one is from Evan, and Evan is from Andover, Massachusetts. Evan says he is a big fan of the show, and he likes to listen to us on road trips, that's it.

Ben: Oh, cool.

Scott: He says that he has a question for - he has a suggestion, rather for a podcast. He wants to know how the parking boots work.

Ben: Parking boots?

Scott: Parking boots.

Ben: I hate those things.

Scott: Do you really?

Ben: I'll tell you how they work. They make your life crappy for a few minutes.

Scott: Ben, you sound - Do you want to talk about this now, or no?

Ben: Yeah, no let's go ahead.

Scott: because you sound like you may have had some parking boot experience.

Ben: You know what, I have. Now, as you know from listening to our other podcasts, which we also hope you enjoy, we cannot reveal the exact location of the secretive Studio 1A, but I can tell you that I've had an experience parking in a nearby parking lot, and lo and behold - and I wasn't parked there for days. I was parked there for a few hours, I came back, and I had a boot on my car. It took me a second to realize what was going on.

Scott: It didn't register?

Ben: No, it didn't register. You know, that's something that you think happens to other people.

Scott: You know, I'll admit, I had no idea that they did this in parking lots. I thought this was like a city street thing.

Ben: Right, right.

Scott: I thought it was for more severe crime than that. I just didn't know that parking lots were targeted for this ty pe of thing.

Ben: Yeah, so there I am, and this is - I think they did this because it was in the midst of the holidays. This was in about 2008 or something, and so there I am, I get the boot, and I'm looking around, I'm near this sort of strip mall area, and I'm just thinking somebody is watching me, people aren't just gonna boot your car, and drive away in a parking lot like this, and sure enough, this guy, who to his credit was very nice, comes driving up, and charges me upwards of $60 to take it off.

Scott: $60?

Ben: $60.

Scott: $60 to take it off with a key.

Ben: The most expensive parking space I have ever had.

Scott: Really?

Ben: Yeah.

Scott: Now what would the cost have been if you had just paid for parking there?

Ben: It would have been $12 Scott, but we all learn from our mistakes.

Scott: So it cost you five times as much to park illegally, but okay, got it. You look a little bit embarrassed.

Ben: It wasn't illegal, man. It was just I was - all right.

Scott: I understand. I don't have any experience with the boot, but I do know what the boot is. I mean it's a piece of hardware really, that locks to your wheels, and it prevents you from driving away. It's just as simple as that. Really what it is, is just a major inconvenience, like you said. The metal device usually has a ramp of some kind, or something that's designed to go in front of the wheel, but it keeps it from spinning, or it would destroy the body of the car, and it just doesn't allow your wheels to spin is what it is. Now, I've seen - I have seen online some people trying to defeat the boot.

Ben: Really?

Scott: Yeah, and I don't recommend this, by the way.

Ben: By trying to take the boot off themselves or trying to drive?

Scott: I'm talking about taking it off, like via different methods.

Ben: Oh wow.

Scott: Yeah, like one guy had, I believe it was a metal cutting chain saw, not a good idea.

Ben: No.

Scott: No, no, terrible idea, but there are a couple of - you know, strangely enough, there are a couple of advances in this too, and I don't know if you wanted to mention anything else about the hardware, since you're so intimately familiar with it?

Ben: I would say that I have post-boot stress syndrome.

Scott: You're making me laugh.

Ben: No, I think we should go into it, and of course, a little bit of a caveat - this episode is not going to show you how to break the low, and anything we talk about is only something that we think is interesting.

Scott: Exactly. So it's definitely not recommended to try and take this thing off. Just pay the fine, and be done with it. Otherwise, you're in - I don't know, you're at risk of hurting yourself or damaging your vehicle, just breaking a law by it to begin with, so better to pay up.

Ben: Okay, so we did our good guy things.

Scott: Now, we can understand that it's a major inconvenience because here's what happens most of the times when you get this boot. If you're in a parking lot like you were, someone kind of watches for you to return because you may be the only one in the parking lot at the time that they have that device on, so they can kind of just camp out, and see what you're doing.

Ben: Because I looked happy when I was walking. That's what it was. I swear, I'm not gonna talk about it.

Scott: Right, you sound bitter. The thing is, if you get this in traffic, or if you're in a downtown city area where you know, it's crowded, congested, they're putting these on several cars, in large areas. You have to find a way to get down to maybe like the downtown area where they have the city offices. You have to go there during business hours, you have to pay the fine, prove who you are, come back to your vehicle, you know, find a way back to your vehicle, wait for somebody to arrive at your vehicle to take this thing off for you, so that you can be on your way - Major inconvenience.

Ben: Yeah.

Scott: More so than just paying the $60 like you had to. You still have to pay the fines, of course, but there's kind of a new advance in this area, which I thought was kind of interesting, and this is really about the only advance to this type of thing that you can really think of.

Ben: Lay it on me, man. I need a heads up.

Scott: Electronic boots, with a keypad release system.

Ben: Ohhh.

Scott: Yeah, this is kind of cool.

Ben: Yeah.

Scott: There's a phone number - see, what it does require you to have though is a cell phone, and a credit card available to make the payment over the phone, and there's a phone number on the boot device. You call the phone number, give them your information, tell them who you are, give them the mere information, you pay the $60, or whatever it is you said it costs via the credit card over the phone, and they give you the code to release the boot from your vehicle. Now I don't know what you do with the boot afterwards, if there is a drop off location, or what, but -

Ben: Oh, can you imagine if they make you drop it off for them?

Scott: I think people, if they know what's good for them, they'll just leave it right where it is, you know, but don't do anything malicious with it.

Ben: Don't dig your hole deeper.

Scott: I thought that was pretty interesting that there's at least one advancement to this because if you think of it, this is a chunk of metal that you're attaching to someone's wheel, what can you really do with it, but it's a good example of something for everybody involved.

Ben: And I want to be fair, and be, I wouldn't say the bigger man, but I'll level with you Scott, at this point in the show, we both know that I'm emotionally about 6 years old, so I was irritated, but to be fair, when people get these boots, a lot of times it is from a city service. It may be from a private company, but there's a reason, unless you are friends with incredibly calculating and malicious super pranksters, you're only going to get a boot if you park in a place you're not supposed to park.

Scott: Yeah.

Ben: Like if you double park in a handicap zone, and you are not handicapped, if you park in the fire lane, and you're not a fire engine, you know.

Scott: Often these are repeat offenders, as well.

Ben: I have heard that.

Scott: This is the third strike you're out type of warning. If you get the paper ticket on the window twice, the third time you get the boot, or maybe it's the fifth time. It's not just - it's usually typically not the first offense that you get something like this, but I suppose that varies from district to district, you know.

Ben: Sure, and I wanted to tell you before we end this, I actually looked up before this, the most expensive parking space -

Scott: Oh really?

Ben: Yeah because you know, I told you I ended up paying $60, a little over $60 -

Scott: Yeah, that's pretty steep.

Ben: Yeah, I thought so, until I heard about the most expensive parking space in the world, which is actually in Back Bay, an upper class area of Boston.

Scott: Okay, how much?

Ben: Let's play a guessing game.

Scott: Oh, no.

Ben: Okay, come on. I'll tell you, it's more than a thousand dollars.

Scott: It's more than a thousand?

Ben: But you knew that.

Scott: I figured it would go more than a thousand. So parking is at a premium in Boston because it's extremely crowded. This is an upper class area, I'm gonna say $15,000.

Ben: The average cost of a parking spot in these areas in Back Bay and Beacon Hill is $127,000.

Scott: No way.

Ben: A parking space.

Scott: $127,000. How long do you get that spot for?

Ben: I'm assuming -

Scott: That's not a year?

Ben: Yeah, no I'm assuming if you pay for it, that much money, then it should be yours.

Scott: Yeah.

Ben: Okay.

Scott: Well if it's that much, I'm building a small apartment on the property there.


That's not -

Scott: Is that illegal?

Ben: Well, no, no, that's not too far out of bounds I was gonna say because some people are buying, not just in Boston, but in New York, if people are selling parking spaces, what a great idea it is to buy one as an investment.

Scott: Exactly, yeah.

Ben: And somebody doesn't want to pay for a whole year of parking but they say hey, how much would it cost me to park in this space.

Scott: It's like rental property.

Ben: Yeah.

Scott: Oh, fantastic, or you buy a camper, or van, and just live there.

Ben: And just live there. Yeah, there might be someone doing that.

Scott: I'm solving problems today.

Ben: You're solving problems, and building bridges, that's what I like about you. So, that is only the median asking price. The most expensive parking space ever sold - The asking price for it $250,000. That was before the bidding war.

Scott: Oh, you're causing me physical pain.

Ben: I'm sorry, that's how I am.

Scott: $250,000 was the starting price?

Ben: Yeah, it was the asking price. So these folks got in a bidding war, and if you're familiar with things like E-Bay or real life auctions, a lot of times people end up paying more than they should because they want to win.

Scott: Sure.

Ben: An I'm not gonna say whether or not it was a good idea for these people to spend - are you ready?

Scott: Oh, no.

Ben: $300,000 to park there.

Scott: Oh my gosh.

Ben: I know, I know.

Scott: Does it say what kind of car they park there?

Ben: No.

Scott: Hmm.

Ben: I think if you pay $300,000 for a parking space, you kind of get privacy. Check this out, man, what do you think comes with a $300,000 parking space?

Scott: Two painted lines on each side - or one on each side.

Ben: You are good - Do you own this parking space? It's outdoors. It's uncovered.

Scott: What?

Ben: Yeah, it's entirely the location.

Scott: You're saying $300,00 uncovered parking so the birds can land above it, and the tree can drop its whatever on it - sap?

Ben: Yeah, pollen, what not.

Scott: No way.

Ben: Yeah.

Scott: You would think it would be carpeted. I would think it would be carpeted.

Ben: Yeah, I would think it would come with a car.

Scott: Yeah, you would think so, and a very expensive car.

Ben: Hopefully, yeah.

Scott: Yeah.

Ben: Not, you know, not my normal car.

Scott: I'm shocked. You are shocking me.

Ben: Well, thankfully that's all I got on it, and to bring it back to full circle, in Boston, and especially in that parking space, you will definitely get towed. You won't get booted.

Scott: You might get booted by the owner.

Ben: You might get booted by the owner, yeah, but we could probably go into - We just wanted to do this listener's suggestion because I have some personal skin in the game when it comes to the booting of cars, and we could do an entire episode on the crazy parking conundrums, but I guess really this is kind of a short one. I guess we even have time for some Listener Mail if you want to.

Scott: Sure, yeah, let's do it. All right we have a bit of Listener Mail here than confirms that I'm not 100 percent crazy.

Ben: Wait, what?

Scott: You're looking at me like I'm nuts already - Do you recall a few episodes ago, and this was talking about the car survival kit. We had a question from a listener about freezing water on Northern road trips. Do you remember that?

Ben: Yup.

Scott: And I suggested -

Ben: Yeah, you suggested those popsicles.

Scott: And I'm still laughing about it. You know, I thought about that afterwards, and I almost said let's not air that one. It almost sounds too goofy, and it's just ridiculous, right?

Ben: Okay.

Scott: And I've honestly thought this for several nights - I'm gonna pull that one from the air. I'm gonna say we can't air it because it's -

Ben: I got your bac k.

Scott: A little crazy, I just felt a little weird about it ever since.

Ben: I thought you were thinking outside the box.

Scott: Well I am thinking outside the box, and someone else thinks that as well. Jake, Jake wrote in and said - Hey I was listening to your podcast, and you were talking about various ways to store water in freezing temperatures. I think the idea for using the freeze postoperative juice things is actually a better idea than it seemed.

Ben: Oooh.

Scott: Exactly. The reason they don't freeze solid is because of the sugar content, so it lowers the freezing temperature of the liquid, etc, etc. Then he says I'm not as crazy as I think I am. That's good, huh?

Ben: Wow, I guess you're gonna have to up the ante man.

Scott: He says but what you could do if you wanted just water to not freeze, you can add a large amount of sugar to the water to keep it from becoming solid. He mentions going to the local health food store to buy a certain type of sugar, fruit sugar, fructose, and he sad that in a survival situation you need all of the energy you can get, so he doesn't think the fructose would hurt you one bit in that type of situation because you just need energy to be able to maintain whatever you're doing until someone can come rescue you or you can get out of the situation.

Ben: That is a really good point.

Scott: So he took it a little bit further. He said he's gonna run it past his dietician girlfriend to see if it is a solid idea, but he'll get back to us later about it.

Ben: Yeah, so we're waiting on him.

Scott: So that was my affirmation, Ben, and now I feel kind of justified, and I think I can finally get some sleep.

Ben: Yeah, no more staying up late at night.

Scott: Yeah, I honestly was thinking about it, that you know, I gave some bad advice, but I think maybe it was good.

Ben: Yeah, and hopefully it's advice that nobody will have to write in, and tell us about a situation where they did have to do this because we hope that everybody takes good enough care of their vehicle that they don't end up breaking down.

Scott: Precisely.

Ben: But sometimes you can't help it. All right folks, so you heard it here first. Scott the deuce Benjamin is legally again a member of the same population of the world. How do you feel Scott?

Scott: I feel pretty good, Ben oilcan Bowlin.Ben Well, welcome back.

Scott: I forgot about our nickname thing. We gotta get back on that. Ben:: Yeah, we got some good suggestions.

Scott: We have some listener suggestions, and I'm making a list.

Ben: We're making a list. Keep sending them in, and you can, of course send them to our E-mail address along with any topics, suggestions, any bad jokes, any recommendations of a good restaurant, anything at all.

Scott: And you can reach us at HighSpeedStuff@HowStuffWorks.com.

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