Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Watch Out For THE SUCK, Part Two

So time goes by, and I'm still driving that van I call T-Bone Dream. The van was improved, slightly. I spray-painted most of the bare metal spots with blue paint that ALMOST matched the original coat.

Yeah, like so many vehicles from the same era, the paint on my 1990 Dodge Grand Caravan wears away because, apparently, there was no primer. I remember reading a case about it in law school. I guess it was a short-term departmental profit thing. Something like that.

But you know what? IT'S MY VEHICLE AND IT'S MY PROPERTY, and my property (such as it is, humble though it may be) is precious to me. I do not appreciate being hooked and hauled on some bullshit premise. I do not appreciate it the way American colonists did not appreciate the Tea Tax.

OK, well, technically (admittedly) I was half-hoping T-Bone Dream would get towed off so I'd have an excuse to get another vehicle. But 95 percent of the time I am NOT hoping my vehicle gets made into a Chinese appliance, and I'm focusing on the majority of the time, here, people.

So here is the column about my close call with the "towing vultures" (I avoided the N-word, that is to say, "Nazis") in my column of January 23, 2008, "Towing is not the answer."

Again, there are some additional details. I thought there was going to be some kind of uprising in the waiting room where individuals fight their tickets at "walk-in traffic court." People have a long time to wait, so they have an opportunity to compare sad stories. Everybody is in sympathy with everybody else. And a huge percentage of people are there to fight towing tickets, because those tickets really hurt.

Some folks are instigators, like a balding little man in his early 50s who was greeting everybody else, like it was his job to make everybody feel welcome in the waiting room and get their stories out of them. Maybe he doesn't even have a ticket. Maybe this is what he does, like the girl in Breakfast Club who goes to detention hall even though she isn't being punished for anything.

So I was sitting there reading a big pile of newspapers. The guy trying to lead the uprising (wanting to get everybody in sympathy with the same anti-towing cause) commented on how much I liked newspapers, obviously. So I told him (why not?) I was a columnist for the Minnesota Daily, and sometimes a Teaching Assistant at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

We sat there and discussed ideas, and told him about my Utopian concept: vehicles would have a sticker which an officer could scan. If the vehicle was about to get towed, the police could use the information from the scan to contact the owner and say, "Your vehicle will be towed shortly. Move it or lose it. Sir."

Naturally, just displaying cell phone numbers on the exterior of vehicles wouldn't work, because folks like telemarketers would come along and snag that info. So it has to be something police and/or tow truck drivers can read. And, really, one can expect to pay a small administrative fee.

How much would I pay to be warned of an impending tow? Fifty bucks a year, baby, and I'm renowned as a cheap bastard.

I mean...something, anything, good grief there must be a smart and high-tech way to clear streets of snow without putting so many vehicles in "car jail," causing so much suffering to the owners.

The anonymous little man in the waiting room of "walk-in traffic court" liked my idea. I kind of wondered if he actually checked for my column, later. You meet strangers, you share thoughts, you are human and vulnerable for a moment, you are changed by the encounter in a subtle, yet important way...then you never see 'em again in this life.

While I sat there reading the newspaper, the television in the waiting room discussed breaking news of the assassination of Bhutto in Pakistan.

But I still I believe in Utopia.

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