Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Open 23 Hours

I was driving home from work, minding my own business, which isn’t difficult to do in a nondescript Ford from the 1980s. No one’s paying attention to me anyway, except when they’re right up my back bumper, cursing at me in nasty little snippets of foul language and then passing me in a huff as soon as that port authority bus gets out of the way.

At a traffic light in Ambridge, I looked left at the cross traffic waiting for its green light to click in. At the front of the line sat a tow truck--nothing attached to its hitch--with this painted on the side: "23-Hr. Towing."

I had a few minutes to stare at this slogan while the truck waited for the green light. I pondered what the guy did with that last remaining hour in the day. Did he grab a quick catnap during Hour 24, so he’d be only a little bug-eyed and lethargic when Hour 1 rolled around again? Also, which hour didn’t he tow things? Was it the same hour every day? How did he decide which hour not to tow things? Was there a particular hour in the day that was already light on tow-truck demands? I could only assume that perhaps he took his nap from, like 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. I thought perhaps folks needed a tow truck mighty rarely during that particular hour of the night.

Then again, if someone needed a tow truck between the hours of 3 and 4 in the morning, they probably REALLY needed that tow truck. Would our tow-truck driver be losing a lot of revenue in grateful tips and added late-night fees by not towing things between 3:00 and 4:00? This suddenly wasn’t as simple as it initially appeared.

I struggled to comprehend what would make a small tow-truck company paint something as perplexing and epistemologically curious as "23-Hr. Towing" on the side of its truck. Was it a typo? Hard to fathom someone accidentally painting the wrong number of hours in the day on the side of a truck in big white letters, and not noticing the error in time to take the vehicle out on the road. Although the paint job looked fairly clean, it didn’t look THAT new. The guy had been driving around with this dubious slogan for a while now. It apparently meant something to other people. It just didn’t mean anything to me.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever get up the courage to call these people if I needed my car towed. I’m just self-esteemless enough to know deep down that the very hour my car breaks down is the one hour in the day that this guy isn’t towing things. Although a relatively content person, I’m also the queen of worst-case scenarios. I’d love an excuse to call these people and find out just what "23-Hr. Towing" means, but I’d probably stick to calling Triple-A: We have a membership and free towing is included, even between the hours of 3 and 4 a.m. Along with being a worst-case scenario person, I’m also cheap.

And, in my world of thrift stores and coupons and Wal-Mart on a good day, cheap beats curious every time.



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