I was in the heat of the moment, fired up.
I tapped out a text message on my phone and hit send.
A few minutes later I regretted it.
My wife and I had returned from out of town the previous evening to find a note stuffed in our apartment door warning that the next day the street sweeper would come down our road. To avoid being towed, all cars must be moved off our street and driveways by 9 a.m. The note came only a day in advance.
At first we were simply annoyed. It would’ve been nice to have a heads up earlier, but we’d received these notices before and had never seen anyone towed. We figured it was an empty threat to boost compliance.
The next morning at 8:50, we went out to move our cars. Most other vehicles had already cleared out, and there at the end of our block sat a tow truck.
Were they seriously going to tow people this time with only a day’s notice?
We moved our cars to the designated street, and by the time we walked back home, it was just after 9 o’clock and, sure enough, the tow truck was hoisting a car in the driveway across the street onto its flatbed.
My wife and I were furious. How is it fair to tow a car out of a driveway without more than 24 hours notice? And we’d been out of town — if we’d happened to return a day later, our car would’ve been towed right from our driveway and we wouldn’t even have had a chance to move it.
This was outrageous, and the caretaker had to know it.
I let her know.
I told her unambiguously that it was ridiculous and unacceptable and that if she was going to start towing cars we needed more notice.
A few minutes later my phone buzzed with her reply. She said thanks for the opinion but she wasn’t having anyone towed.
I’d been so sure I was right. The timing was perfect — how could that be a coincidence? But the tow truck didn’t come back for the only other car left in the street, so the caretaker’s story checked out. The tow apparently wasn’t enforcement for the street sweeper.
Slightly embarrassed, I apologized and admitted I was mistaken because of the timing.
It reminded me why I have a general rule not to send text messages and emails when I’m worked up about something.
Don’t get me wrong, I write them when I’m angry — I just don’t send them until I’ve had a little time to walk away and come back with a cooler head.
The tow truck situation also reminded me how easy it is to misjudge and misunderstand others — to assume we’re right without even hearing someone else’s perspective. I don’t know about you, but that’s not who I want to be.