Back when I used to hang out at the Old Town School of Folk Music, I learned a song called the Lincoln Park Pirates.
It is about tow truck drivers in Chicago.
I have a "patchy" history with Chicago Tow Truck drivers.
Some are very kind, like Boy Scouts with a cool rig and a surefire way to unlock car doors.
And others? Well...in Chicago...we have the pirates. The Tow Pirates. They lurk around neighborhoods and parking lots. They aren't called in by the cops...they get paid by the car and their aim is to rack up the dough. (I used to know one of these drivers...he clued me in to the whole deal.) The honesty problem with some companies is so bad that the Chicago Cops had to set up Operation "Toe Jam" (would I kid you about such a bad pun??!!) to catch dishonest drivers. But the residents have suspected things like this for decades.
With my insomnia keeping me up late one night last week, I was slumped on the couch and praying for sleep when I kept seeing the lights of a tow truck crawl past in front of the house. Circling the block over and over. He stopped outside.
Although loved ones WISH I was not so impetuous, I turn into "Advocacy Woman...Defender of Global Justice" in these moments, or some kind of uber Nancy Drew. That is not a good thing. It generally gets me into "situations."
So Advocacy Woman charges outside in her pajamas and socks to investigate. And there was a tow truck driver looking into cars with a flashlight.
"Can I help you?" I ask in an overly-cheerful voice.
"Um, yeah. I was asked to come here by a guy."
Silence from me.
"A guy who wants a tire...thing, you know?"
I speak up again, all helpful and friendly, "Which neighbor?"
The Pirate raises his head and scans the dark houses. "Um, that one." I'm sure he is thinking, "Finally! She's going to go back inside."
Instead, I skip up the neighbor's steps to the front door in my pajamas and ring the bell. An older gentleman in his bathrobe appears. "I just wanted to let you know that your tow truck is here."
"My whhaaat?" the neighbor asks. So I turn to the driver. "Is this the guy?"
"Mr. Green?" Asks the driver, moving forward. "Mr. Green? I'm looking for...(he mumbles a house number)." All of us are standing on the sidewalk now. Me, in my pajamas. The neighbor in his bathrobe. The pirate with his flashlight. We read the house numbers, silently moving our lips.
"There is no house number for that address," I point out, not surprised in the least.
We all contemplate this. "Darnedest thing," says the Pirate. "Isn't it?" I exclaim.
The driver gets into his truck and peels out, I walk back to my house in my socks, my neighbor closes his door. And the Pirate sails on, looking for another car to snag.
I hum as I walk back up my steps, "Yo ho, and a bottle of rum....a pirate's life..."
Don't mess in my 'hood, pirates. I'm on to you...and I'm just nutty enough these days to walk around in my pajamas putting a stop to your antics.