Q I just wanted to share a chapter in my life involving the incredible cost of a ticket and towing/storage fees I received for parking illegally in a loading zone in front of UC San Francisco. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa!

Jim Brown

Mountain View

A A triple mea culpa is not a good sign.

Q My wife and I arrived at approximately 11:20 a.m. one day and deposited coins in the meter for 48 minutes. We met my brother and his wife after they had seen a new physician for his ALS-type symptoms. We had intended to drive together to have lunch before they traveled to Ukiah and we returned to Mountain View.

I parked in that zone as it was in proximity to the area my brother would walk to without a tremendous amount of physical effort. We were longer than expected returning, and I expected a citation to be fluttering on our windshield. Much to my surprise, our car was missing!

After several phone calls we discovered our car had been towed and transported to a storage facility downtown. After a few hours of touring The City compliments of the San Francisco Muni bus system and a side trip to the SFPD, we arrived at the storage yard at around 4 p.m.

When we called to the bulletproof enclosed counter, we learned from the clerk the fee to bail our car out was $584! A staggering amount for a tow, under any circumstances!

There were several others in the office with similar misfortunes.

I want to alert and caution anyone visiting San Francisco or any community to obey all parking and traffic laws for a safer, less costly and more pleasurable traveling experience.

Jim Brown

A Jim is not a rabble-rouser, but a retired cop with almost 30 years of experience. And he's not alone.

Q On Fourth Street near Market Street in San Francisco, I saw a sign that prohibits parking in the middle of the night but did not notice the one for 4-6 p.m., so my car was towed. I understand the city's need to clear commuter lanes and perhaps even to issue $93 parking tickets, but the $501 that AutoReturn got to tow a car 1.4 miles and store it for a couple of hours seems like legalized theft! What would a similar tow have cost in San Jose and other Bay Area cities?

Peter Chastain

San Jose

A Folks, don't let your car get towed -- anywhere. In San Jose, you could pay around $550 -- $212 for the car to be released, a $185 towing fee, a $65 to $75 storage fee and an after-hours fee of $80.

For Oakland there's a $170 towing fee, a $60 storage fee per day and a $125 police administrative fee, plus other fees that run the final figure higher.

Q I want to share the most horrifying experience I have ever had in 40 years of driving.

I had just had a yogurt with my best friend at the Rancho Shopping Center in Los Altos and was headed home on Foothill Expressway. It was about 6 p.m. and there was plenty of traffic. Just as I got past Loyola Corners, a dark green late-model Lexus swerved around from behind me to my right, cut in front of me and slammed on his brakes!

If I had inadvertently done something to this person, I had no idea what. I was shocked and put on my blinker to move into the slow lane. This dark-haired, young-looking man then swerved in front of me and slammed on his brakes again!

This crazy person did this at least five or six times in the next few moments! I was so terrified, as it was obvious he was trying to get me to crash into the back of him, that I was unable to get his license number, and my purse had flown off the seat, dumping my cell onto the floor.

I would have dialed 911, but obviously could not. I don't know how drivers behind me avoided hitting us, as they must have had to slam on their brakes as well. I was so scared and upset, all I could do was pull into the left lane and exit onto Homestead Road, where he was unable to go.

I'm hoping that someone was able to call police with a license plate number and a description of the car, and that this person was stopped. I can't imagine how many people he may have raged at, but it was such a harrowing experience, I would like to know that he may not be able to do this again.

Thank you for reading this, and if you hear anything from other people, please let me know. I am extremely upset and also angry as hell about losing a year's worth of brake pads in five minutes!

Donna Hussey

A This is called brake screeching; it's either triggered by road rage, or it's a deliberate attempt to cause an accident. I consider it one of the stupidest stunts on the road. Maybe Mr. Stupid will read this and realize how he put you, himself and others at risk.

Follow Gary Richards at Twitter.com/mrroadshow, look for him at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.