The Parable of Predatory Towing



An adjustment I have yet to make now that I reside in the nation’s capital is the ominous specter of “predatory towing” that occurs with disturbing frequency throughout the greater metropolitan area. Predatory towing is a relatively new practice that involves independent towing companies sending out monitors and lingering tow trucks to patrol parking lots for vehicles whose drivers have left the lot or have stayed beyond the posted time limit. The issue has become so widespread that the Washington Post has written at least two articles about it in the past few months.


One article detailed the experience of a mom who sent her child into a McDonald’s to get some food while she ran over to the post office across the street. The spotter saw the woman leave the boundaries of the property and called in a tow truck that dragged off her car, despite the fact that her son had the receipt from his purchase of a Happy Meal. No matter, the company rebutted; the driver had left the premises, so the car was towed. Despite multiple complaints, local governments shrug their shoulders and say they can do little about practices on private property. And so it continues.


What does any of this have to with re-booting your life? An excellent question.


What this fearsome example represents is the challenge involved in adjusting to a new normal. Life circumstances change for all of us. While there is much to grieve about the erosion of a gentler, more gracious parking policy, the fact is that in order for local merchants to provide free spaces for their direct customers, current realities demand greater vigilance. More people competing for fewer available parking spaces results in a greater number of drivers choosing to ignore rules designed to provide customer only parking. I know; I’ve done it, too.


I chafe at the idea of rogue towing companies interfering with my unfettered ability to enjoy a few hours of worry-free consumerism and rationalize my choices by telling myself I shop at Giant a lot, so why not avail myself of the free parking? But Giant sees it differently. My car means one less spot for somebody who’s considering running in to pick up dinner versus ordering delivery. I get it. So they take the steps they believe necessary to protect their commercial interests and I’m left driving around the block.


Of course, I’m annoyed. Of course I grumble and wish things were now the way they were “then.” Don’t we all? But circumstances change. Demands on resources change. And my shaking my fist at the sky or refusing to drive to Bethesda or Capitol Hill because of the draconian parking realities only hurts me. I get to go nowhere if I refuse to adjust. So, it’s up to me to find a new way to enjoy the activities and locations I like. This requires planning, flexibility, creative solutions, and most importantly, a decision not to sit there and fume. I remind myself over and over that people aren’t doing the things they do to annoy me on purpose. If I choose to see it any other way, I’ll self-immolate out of frustration.



So, how do you adjust? What is it that you tell yourself to find a peaceful way through a seemingly hostile or ungracious new reality? Or do you prefer to remain incensed, sitting at home gnashing your teeth, unwilling to change?


Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses to “The Parable of Predatory Towing”

  1. grasshopper Says:

    you know it’s funny, because I’ve had this conversation with others…the world has been changing a lot, and unfortunately in many ways not necessarily for the better. Our planet is being overpopulatd and as a result city life is getting crazier, more unfriendly, frustrating and competitive by the day. Simple errands, like running to the grocery store have become nightmares because of traffic and parking…much like the scenario you’ve so aptly described in this blog.
    At the end of the day, I find it very difficult to really “adjust” to this. The pace and style of daily lifei n the cities has frankly become to frenetic for my taste. I can handle it in small doses, but to deal with it on a daily basis, in my opinion is unhealthy. I think the key for the future is to modify our own priorities and lifestyle choices to minimize contact with these aggravating situations. Buying an island and being self-sustainable sounds better and better all the time….

  2. dignitarysretreat Says:

    It is very hard to get used to! I agree. But, I remind myself that if I accept the conditions that are part and parcel of living in a particular locale, I need to go with the flow. There is so much about life that we can’t control…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: