Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Even the Worst Job in the U.S. Can Have Its Moments

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Even the Worst Job in the U.S. Can Have Its Moments

Article excerpt

"It's an ear job, not an eye job."

Donald Regan on being - White House Chief of Staff

As I leave home the last words my wife says to me are, "Don't get shot." My children perk up. I close the door before they can ask, "If you do, can I have our bike?"

It started when I'd come up with the iffy theory that one way to learn about terrific careers is to study lousy ones.

Then I happened to meet two men in the business of impounding illegally parked cars. They told stories of enraged car owners insulting and threatening them, sometimes even swinging or shooting at them. It sounded dreadful. I couldn't resist.

That's how I've come to spend a Saturday evening with Ron Guerra, one of the owners of Tri-City Towing.

A sports bar is having a party and overflow from the bar's parking lot is finding its way to the apartment complex where we stand.

"This situation is a little sadistic," Ron says. "I feel like a spider waiting for the flies."

I feel a bit sadistic, too; I fight the impulse to warn the cheerful bar patrons: "Turn around! Don't park! Leave your car here and you're going to have to pay $80 cash - no checks, no credit cards - to get it back." But I sit with the spiders and watch the flies swarm round.

Satisfied with the number of parked cars, Ron springs into action. As the tow truck driver backs in, Ron uses a thin metal tool called a "Slim Jim" to unlock the car. Steel clamps embrace and lift two of the tires, magnetic lights are placed at the end of the car and the truck is off. It doesn't take long; I time one towing sequence at just 104 seconds.

On the third car, the driver appears just as his car's wheels leave the ground. Pacing and holding his head with both hands, the poor bloke pleads wildly and impressively. At least it impresses me. Not Ron. He's heard better.

And it's not long till we hear worse, much worse - drunken, vile profanity, particularly from the women. …

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