Friday, January 28, 2011

How dare they tow abandoned cars?

The Washington Post has an article today about the bad luck of the people whose cars were towed after being abandoned during the recent snowstorm.  The article's editorial perspective, however, seemed to me a bit odd. may have good reasons for leaving your car on the side of the road (or in the middle of an intersection, in the case of one person interviewed for the article). But trying to make villains of the towing companies is a little bit difficult in this case, since they were helping clear the roads so that other people could get around. So the article seems to demonize those who refused to stop.

"I helped push seven cars out of trouble, but then when I looked back, I couldn't get no one to help me," he said. So he left his Oldsmobile Alero on the side of the ramp, and started the long walk to a Giant to get a ride from a friend.

Well, can you blame them?  Look what happened to you when you stopped to help other people.

In the tale of the woman who left her car in the middle of an intersection, the article writer tries to introduce a little class warfare:
For almost 15 minutes, she tried to wave down every passing car. A string of BMWs and Audis passed by, but the drivers wouldn't make eye contact, as though even a look would oblige them to help.
(Disclaimer: Dr. Snowpanic gets around town in a 2001 Honda -- with four-wheel drive, of course.) So who stops to help her? "A short man driving one of the oldest, most beaten-up cars she'd ever seen." Of course -- I also picture him as balding, with a potbelly.

There is plenty to criticize in the response to the storm -- towing should be more systematic, so drivers know where to retrieve their cars.  Maybe the local governments should pay tow-truck drivers to pull cars into nearby parking lots, rather than to their impound lots.  But you have to pay them somehow to go out in the middle of a snowstorm, and I didn't see anyone in the article volunteering to have their taxes raised to get that to happen.

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