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The Protestor and The Escort

Apr 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

The other day an on-the-way home errand took me to a part of town I don’t get around to anymore, but I often frequented when I drove an impound truck. The errand, in case you are wondering, was to pick up a $7 pair of shoes for my wife, and involved spending a lot of time with the girls at Payless Shoe Source, who apparently do not have a foolproof “hold” program. They were regularly $22, so it was all worth it.

Across the street from Payless Shoe Source is some kind of buffet-style restaurant that used to be a pizza joint called the Organ Grinder. The Organ Grinder had an enormous organ with pipes that ran up to a high ceiling, and at least some of the time, a man playing it. It was a nice family place that was fairly popular.

Our impound signs were up there, but we rarely were called out to tow anything away. One afternoon, however, I was dispatched to the Organ Grinder and told to approach from a side street rather than from the main drag out front. When I arrived, the manager met me behind the restaurant and gave me the scoop.

There was a woman with a picket sign on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. She was there every day, apparently, for several hours. She was in love with the man playing the organ and under the impression that the he was being held against his will and forced to play (and I thought I worked some crappy jobs). So her sign included something about false imprisonment and made reference to the mafia, I believe.

Apparently this had been going on, off and on, for a few years and the manager had finally gotten tired of it. I had no knowledge about this local saga until that day, but later heard from various sources that she was some kind of cult hero, if only for her tenacity. They had tried to have her removed, but since she was on the sidewalk, that wasn’t going to happen. She had, however, parked her Escort station wagon in the Organ Grinder parking lot, and she definitely wasn’t a customer, regardless of her love for the organist.

The thing about Escorts, of course, is that they are a front-wheel drive and, of course, it was nosed in. It was also about 20 feet from the “protestor.” She was moving slowly, back-and-forth, so my only chance was to back 100 feet through the packed parking lot while she was pacing northbound and hope she left it in neutral without being detected. She didn’t look like a natural sprinter, so that would give me an extra edge. Also, my truck had a gas motor, so that was helpful. The traffic on the busy street might help as well.

Alas, it was not to be. The Escort was an automatic, and although I got it picked up without her noticing, there was no way to get the dollies completely assembled before she could position herself and her sign between the truck and her car. She wasn’t going to let it happen. And she wasn’t really capable of interacting reasonably when I tried to collect a drop fee (I explained that she was nuts, right?). So the police were called, and there was a lot of conferring between different parties. The officer in charge finally called me and the restaurant manager out and gave us the head-shake and the “you really thought this would work?” look. So I put down her Escort and rode off into the sunset.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper