impound

There are those special menial jobs for which people will always hate you even if you’re doing your job right. Meter maid is one. I suppose tow truck driving is another. No one wants their car towed (provided it’s working). It’s a huge inconvenience finding a way to retrieve it from whatever lot the company uses. And absolutely no one wants to fork over hundreds of dollars just for the right to get their car back.

Nevertheless, don’t let this empathetical argument distract you from the fact that a lot of tow companies are predatory, extortionate pieces of sh*t. It doesn’t help tow companies employees that they’re abrasive but, I will say to their defense, I feel that’s a function of the common hostility I described above. They deal with people who are always pissed off or indignant or ready to fight them. In turn, they’re developed the necessary defenses to deflect that.

Of course, that defense is in place whether the anger is justified or not, and more than often, it is justified. There are untold stories of people being towed illegally and then shaken down and forced to pay cash only to retrieve their vehicle. New York City alone had to revoke the licenses of more than 50 tow companies between 2009 and 2012. One shutdown D.C. tow company was found to have scrapped a car that it impounded.

Unethical behavior may not be uniform among tow companies, but it ain’t exactly rare, either. Sooner or later, you’re gonna run across one of the bad ones and it ruins your goddamn day. I was out of town the past week and my girlfriend stopped by daily to feed my pets and/or just crash for a while. Visitor parking is an ongoing issue at my complex and there isn’t much street parking around it to ease things. Each resident has two guest passes. Visitors can stay in designated spots for up to 24 hours so long as they’re displaying a guest pass. That’s been the deal for the seven years I’ve lived there.

But last Friday, my girlfriend came over at 6:30, bummed around my place for the evening and fell asleep, only to wake up in the morning and find that her car was towed the next morning. She wasn’t there 24 hours. She had the pass displayed. This was clearly bullshit. She texted me to let me know what happened and I gave her the name of the tow company that is always trawling our complex looking for quarry.

She got to the lot, the employees were short with her when she asked why she was towed. And she had to pay $175. That much to have her car towed up the street. Yes, my complex is down the street from the tow yard, making it a very attractive target. The tow company always has some presence on the property since it’s convenient. While if you towed to the other side of town, that does suck, yet there’s also something humiliated in having to pony up almost 200 bucks because your car was taken up the street.

I was shocked and pissed that this happened to her, especially when she was already doing me a favor just to be there. Eventually, the explanation we got is that it’s in the homeowner associations bylaws that, while visitors can park in one space for up to one 24-hour span, they cannot park on the property, in any amount of spaces, for more than 24 ACCUMULATED HOURS over the course of a week. The f*ck? Not only is it a stupid rule, but it’s never enforced. The same cars are always parked in the visitor spots at my place. My girlfriend and I have been going out for about a year and she spends a significant amount of time at my place. At least three or four days a week. If that’s indeed a rule, she could have been penalized for it any of the last 52 weeks. But nothing so much as a warning before getting towed this time. It also should be mentioned that this law is posted nowhere on the property. Just in the fine print on the stupid HOA bylaws.

Granted, the offending bylaw that gets the tow company off the hook is the fault of my homeowner association, which, like every homeowner’s association, is ridiculous and terrible. But that’s a rant for another day. At any rate, it’s not a law the association has enforced. Ever. They’ve never called in a tow for this reason. So f*ck you, tow company. You only saw this because you sit around my apartment complex lying in wait and bathing in chew spit, eager to arbitrarily enforce an arcane rule the community doesn’t care about.

The main reason my girlfriend was towed was because she didn’t park in a parallel spot and was therefore easier to haul away. But because a technicality is on the company’s side, she’s out $175 and we just gotta take it. I hope the city takes their business license, lights it on fire, confiscates their vehicles and shits in their mouth. Yes, I hope the tow company get the shit of a city government employee. I bet it’s extra noxious and runny from Taco Bell.