I am going to tell a story about a very polarizing topic in Provo. This is a story of ambition, anxiety and greed. It is a story about one tow guy on one city block, and one vehicle that wouldn’t budge.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re in one of two camps — you’re either part of the Village-on-the-Parkway Mob, and just the reading this article’s title made you grab that pitchfork and lynchin’ gear out of your closet; OR you’re a devil’s advocate for capitalism via the tow guy, eager to play the “he’s just doing his job” card. I’m not here to prove either side right or wrong.
About a month ago, I was doing sound at Muse Music Cafe for an ordinary Wednesday night show. The second act of the night was The Var Sequence. They loaded their gear into the venue and stayed parked in the approved Muse band load-in area during their set. Imagine their surprise when, after finishing their set, their van was on a tow truck!
Apparently, a warning sign at a neighboring parking lot had been budged the previous weekend, and the KPE tow guy naturally thought that after years of the Muse load-in area being a “no-tow zone,” this sign being moved suddenly changed all of that. “A simple misunderstanding,” I thought. Certainly one a lowly sound guy like me could fix by having a civil conversation with the guy. Surely I can calmly explain the misunderstanding to this cold, goateed man and discover that he, in fact, has a soft side. Right?
Okay, maybe it would take more than me. Problem #1: The tow guy wouldn’t release the van. Problem #2: He was also trying to charge the band twice as much as he was legally allowed to (if you catch your car in the process of being towed before the truck is in transit, the company can only charge you half the standard price of the towing fee).
Luckily for The Var Sequence, they knew their rights and called a police officer to settle the dispute. Meanwhile I called Muse Music owner Jake Haws, who walked from his house to the venue to try and talk some sense into the tow guy.
The police arrived first and, after a conversation that lasted way longer than it should have, the tow guy was forced to admit he could only charge the band half price (or $75) to get their car back. But this wasn’t enough. Misunderstanding or not, Muse (as a business) can’t have bands that are parked in an approved spot getting towed while they’re on stage.
So the owner of the business arrived, but this was apparently still not enough to convince the tow guy he was in the wrong. Jake had to call his landlord, owner of several buildings on the block, to set the tow guy straight.
All this time, the police were waiting for this to be resolved, visibly annoyed with the stubborn tow guy. While waiting, though, the police caught him on a technicality: a tow truck operator must legally be wearing a vest or uniform with their company’s logo while in the act of towing, and this guy was not wearing his. And so, while Muse’s landlord insisted over the phone that the guy drop the van from the tow truck, the police wrote him a citation, one which I’m told carries a hefty fine.
We often defend the tow guy with phrases like “he’s just doing his job” or “but you don’t complain when you’re broken down on the freeway and he helps you.” I’m not here to demonize the tow guy, but when “doing your job” means bending your own rules to bring misery to poor college students and starving musicians, you’re deserving of at least a little criticism.
I’m just saying, when the Provo police side with a local rock band in a dispute against you, it may be time to rethink your career choice.
Chance Clift is a local culture correspondent for Rhombus.
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