- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2002

Nothing beats the professional life of a tow truck operator in the city, except perhaps the cot and three meals provided to the employees of the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you are a tow truck operator in the city, you don't necessarily have to answer to anyone. You just have to hit the streets each day, pick out the first vehicle that appeals to you and then take it back to your place.

You are not obligated to notify the owner of the vehicle or the Metropolitan Police Department or the Department of Public Works. You are not obligated to follow certain procedures. Your only obligation is to haul the vehicle to wherever you like and let it accrue a daily storage fee.

Please, Washington, don't call the tow truck operators. They are busy enough already. They will call you if they get around to it.

Who can keep track of all the tow truck companies in the city anyway?

More and more, it seems, the young do not want to grow up to be doctors or educators or Peace Corps volunteers. They want to be tow truck operators.

You can see why. A tow truck operator merely spends the day driving around in circles, checking out the scenery, pretending to be the baddest man on the road, just as we all did after obtaining a driver's license in high school.

No, life couldn't be sweeter for the city's tow truck operators. They are not required to be licensed. They have no fee guidelines to follow. They have no paper to process. They need only to have a commitment to rid the city of parked vehicles, the legally parked ones as well as the illegally parked ones. The latter is a minor distinction. It is all the same in the end. You pay.

The mayor's office does not seem to mind. Your vehicle, after all, is the city's principal growth industry, with impressive streams of revenue coming from the DMV, parking enforcement, the towing industry and speed cameras.

As they say in the mayor's office: "If you can't put up toll booths at the city's entry points, be inventive."

The wise souls in the mayor's office have been trying to figure out how to reform the tow truck industry since an investigation by the D.C. inspector general revealed its fraudulent practices last August

That is 10 months ago, if you are keeping score at home. What is a mayor to do? So many things merit his attention.

The city has adopted the concrete barrier as its official emblem following the atrocities of September 11. Everyone is a potential terrorist nowadays, notably blue-haired grandmothers from Minnesota.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, along with all government officials, must ponder the frightening nature of these facts: blue hair, grandmother, Minnesota.

This is the war on terror, of which the mayor of the nation's capital is an essential part. If the mayor ever comes across a suspicious-looking, blue-haired grandmother from Minnesota, the directive from Tom Ridge is clear: Instruct the blue-haired terrorist to drop her purse and put her hands up.

The mayor also has been forced to expend considerable energy on D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few, the ex-NFL great who played alongside George O'Leary at New Hampshire.

The poor mayor. He goes from Chief Few to Destiny, the DMV's new computer that has a severe headache.

You know how it goes at the DMV. The new computer is down, the employees are out to lunch, and a dedicated tow truck operator is pulling away with your vehicle because of the congestion at the DMV building on Brentwood Road NE.

The mayor showed off the city's fleet of 25 new tow trucks last week. It was such a moving moment, no doubt bringing tears to the eyes of many area residents. Someone should have passed out cigars.

Give the tow truck operators in the city credit. They can't help it that they are good at what they do. They are only trying to improve the city's quality of life.

It is just another day in the city. Do you know where your vehicle is being hidden by a tow truck operator?

The assault on your wallet follows soon enough.

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