A Humanitarian ActJul 22nd, 2011 | By Editorial Staff | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog
When I was an everyday driver, the drivers I worked with were almost all commission drivers and there was a great deal of competition among us. Not all of us. Some were very gracious and non-competitive and were immediately trampled into the dust or siphoned of all vital fluids like a sun-dried tomato. We did a lot of impound work, and there were many properties that we patrolled randomly, not unlike vultures circling for carrion (there are a lot of impound company owners out there who cringe when I write stuff like that, because it’s bad PR to tell the truth sometimes, but I note that vultures don’t typically kill anything that’s alive — like a hawk or falcon — vultures clean up messes left behind by the real offenders, thereby making the world a better place). Sometimes these patrol contracts had complicated stipulations or conditions in place to help us identify which vehicles to tow away.
One of my coworkers found a vehicle for sale parked in a lot we patrolled with such conditions. He went into the business that owned the lot to get permission from the manager to tow the car. The manager told him to give the vehicle owner till 5 p.m., and if it was still there, he could tow it away. So he went on his way, patrolling other lots, towing other cars and stewing inside all day about this car that might get away.
My shift started at 3:30 p.m., so he immediately cornered me when I came in and told me to steer clear of this car. It was his tow, and he had done the leg work, and he wanted to make sure I didn’t try to steal it from him. I have no idea how he could have ever reached the conclusion that I would do anything so blatantly underhanded and devious. It was clearly a case of misdirected animosity. I assured him that I would certainly protect his future earnings from that vehicle to whatever extent I could. My first call that day, however, was a tow from the downtown core area out to a location not far away from where this precious vehicle was so illegally parked. I also completed the tow at about 4:45 p.m., giving me about 15 minutes to make it to the vehicle. I also heard over the radio the other driver go in-tow at approximately 4:30 p.m., meaning he wouldn’t be able to make it to the vehicle at 5 p.m., or even by 5:30. Clearly fate was directing my actions. In fact, I have no doubt it was the hand of God placing me in this position, because God has a sense of humor. I casually meandered in the direction of the vehicle.
When I arrived, the vehicle was still there and it was around 5 p.m. I got on the radio and asked the driver about his status. He was still in-tow. I asked him very nicely if I could just tow the vehicle, since I was there, it was 5 p.m., he was in-tow, and there was the possibility that the vehicle owner would show up and take it away before either of us could tow it. He replied with a cool, adamant no, which he couldn’t embellish upon over the radio. I sat there in my truck, looking at the car, trying to work out in my mind how I could justify towing the car. Even if I had to give him all of the commission from the tow, it made more sense for me to tow it than to not tow it. I could hope for the best and then work my way down to that option later, if I had to. However, while I was mulling this over, the vehicle owners showed up and drove the car away.
I got on the radio and told the driver, “Okay, it’s all yours.” I then merrily went on my way.
The next day, I showed up for work and he immediately pulled me aside and apologized. “I should have just let you tow the car,” he said. “When I got out there to tow it, it was gone. If I would have let you tow it, we wouldn’t have lost the tow.”
I smiled, told him it was okay, paused for effect, and then I told him I knew, because I had seen the vehicle owners drive away.
It really was the best thing for him. Seeing him so humble and apologetic, so out-of-character, was heartbreaking for me. Returning him to his natural state of anger was really a humanitarian act on my part.
It was the least I could do.
Have a safe and profitable week.