It took having my vehicle towed on Thanksgiving weekend to restore my faith in humanity and usher in some holiday spirit. We were sitting around chatting after dinner when someone started ringing the doorbell and didn't stop. Then we heard people yelling, "They're taking your truck, they're taking your truck." This was a good old fashioned hue and cry!
John went running after the truck. I grabbed my purse and followed. He was trotting beside the tow truck screaming at them to stop because the owner was coming, but they weren't stopping. Those of you from more civilized communities may be shocked, but in our state not stopping upon appearance of the owner is not illegal. Or at least I think it's not illegal- towing here is a municipal issue so your bet is as good as mine what the law happens to be where I happened to be standing. Anyway, they weren't stopping. Until the men of the neighborhood blocked them in by putting their bodies in front of the truck. Then they stopped.
I arrived at the door of the tow truck and was told it was $150 to drop the truck. Again, we have no towing laws in this state so there is no requirement for tow operators to accept credit cards. However, I had gone on a trip and actually stopped at the ATM, so I just happened to have $150, in cash, on my person. I paid. Meanwhile people behind me are waving the homeowner documents proving I was parked legally and getting louder. The operator dropped my truck and immediately started trying to tow the car next to where they had dropped my truck.
So they are trying to hook this car, but the owner is there and getting in her car. There is exactly one thing that is definitely illegal: hooking a car that already has a living body in it. (Despite this, babies are towed with some regularity in these parts.) I called 911 to report what now seemed to surely be a legal violation and then returned to the fray.
In my state there is a long history of police doing nothing to assist predatory tow victims, so don't expect a happy ending here. Not long ago a tow operator towed any random car out of a coffee shop for as long as they could get their money. It was the media outcry ("I had my coffee receipt in my hand!") and a lawsuit by one particularly outraged father whose daughter had been stranded downtown late at night that brought that operation to an end. But "no parking" signs pulled out (prompting one Duke law student to draft a suggested tow ordinance for Durham and be laughed out of the state) and in one bizarre case a sign to park here- this has been the norm. Property owners meanwhile bear no responsibility. That last case, the sign being added, that was a church. Meanwhile, back to the most awesome neighbors ever...
The men were now standing between this tow truck and the car with the woman in it preventing them from getting to it. And first they had gotten her in it- she was a little nervous and intimidated but the crowd helped her face this down and take action. Truly, truly heartwarming. I love these people! So the tow operator gave up on that and next went for the car across the street.
I was the one ringing and ringing on that doorbell while a black lab sat there smiling at me through the window. The dinner party finally came down and as soon as they saw what was going on went flying out the door with no thought of the dog. I body blocked the dog and held on until someone else came down and got hold of him. Meanwhile all the men out blocking the tow truck and screaming, and these additional women screaming. Still no police.
The tow truck goes around the corner and people return to their homes, except I see that they aren't leaving, they're just going to another street in the neighborhood. So my sweetheart and I run them down, ring all the doorbells and bring out those people to get their cars. The tow operators get back in their truck and turn to leave, the show is over.
This is when one lone police officer shows up. The tow truck operators, who have been bizarrely even tempered and friendly, as if they were in a deranged parade float, explain that the reason those people are running around like the real maniacs is because they are "making sure the neighbors are aware of the parking rules." I got special mention for being "very nice" for probably the first time in my life. Not shooting predatory tow operators, the only gift I have when it comes to interpersonal relations.
I start to explain the problem as we saw it and the officer cuts me off by explaining that my problem is not his problem. Actually what he said was that he was just there to "deescalate the situation, towing is a civil matter". Actually, before that, he told some lame story about being legally towed and how annoyed he was and therefore he could comisserate with someone calling the police because they were being illegally towed. This only served to annoy me. As did the comment that that I should take it up with "my" homeowners association since the very definition of the conflict was that it was not my homeowners association- it's not even 9PM, follow along here copper!
But you can't say that alone on the street in the middle of the night with one cop, and you can't point out the problem where a criminal act witnessed by at least a dozen people won't be investigated. The only logical conclusion there is that you can break any law you want... so long as you are driving a tow truck.
We returned home and settled in for bed. The fight will continue another day. I'm sure I'll be mentioning the police response that wasn't to the municipality. I'm gathering the evidence to sue for the return of my $150. I know what company I will never, never call for a tow and sweetheart has stated that they'll get an extra bird any time he sees them. I'll make some effort to suggest our state finally get some tow laws. Because this is crazy. But it was also the best thing that's happened to me in months.