Tow be or not tow be
I confess; I am not best known for my up-to-date knowledge on the happenings around the world. My closest of friends would hesitate in using ‘well-informed’ as an adjective for me. But I am not completely out of tune either. In between my naps and during movie breaks, wandering chitchat among colleagues and roomies sometimes helps me get an idea about what I presume are headlines.
So I do know about the recession that seems to be sweeping the globe. I am no finance guru, but I understand this can’t be a good thing. By logic, it’s going to trickle down to all industries. It will directly hit the finance sectors right below the belt, and while the finance sector is reeling under the blow, distorting its face and exhaling sharply, it will continue its mass assault on other industries. People will get more reluctant in spending money, preferring, instead, to hold large wads of cash and getting paranoid about people looking at them for over three seconds in a row. This will hit business. Smaller shops may shut down. Larger shops will start closing earlier. And far-sighted businessmen will start diversifying… new business avenues, opportunities for alternate source of revenue.
All these will take time, particularly in India, where reactions to even emergency situations like terrorist hijackings take a two day waiting period for any action beyond an encouraging pinky shake. But one Government body has taken off the shackle and dared to think ahead of time; The Bangalore City Traffic Police
The Bangalore City Traffic Police (Motto: “Hey, cops have to eat too”) has jumped the gun on recession, and has embraced an escalated review on milking income sources. It’s a low investment, high margin extension of their current policies, with the additional advantage of being able to utilize existing resources. The plan is simple. Signboards. ‘No parking’ signs.
Sure, the city has had no parking zones all over the city for years, and I’ve shelled out the big moolah for the offence on several occasions. For a city like Bangalore, there are several prime locations and traffic congested areas, where people are already packed like a can of sardines, having to hop on one foot to stay grounded; so ‘No Parking’ zones are inevitably linked to the city, until they invent a shrink ray that can let them keep their Ford Fiestas in their pockets. (“Now where did I put the car, honey?” – “Did you check your other pocket?”)
But the actual brainwave struck when an unnamed traffic official banged his head on his last can of beer – “Hey, why do the ‘no parking‘ zones have to make sense?”. This apperently got them thinking. Ad hoc ‘no parking zones’ in the city… Some place random… Some place new. Ka-ching!
I’m guessing as to the actual process involved, but the plan has been active at least on one location. There’s a small lane opposite Total Mall in Madiwala. It has space for parking two wheelers, does not allow larger vehicles through, and is safely away from heavy traffic; hence a logical parking area for customers of over two dozen small shops around the area. However, this is very conveniently close to the tow area near Madiwala police station.
So around a week or so back, the Madiwala tow team (Motto: “When I said ‘that”s fine’, I meant ‘That’s another 200 bucks in fines'”) salvaged a rust infected, old ‘no parking’ sign, camouflaged it behind a few dozen parked bikes and whisked them off n their tow truck. It’s one helluvan idea; The place is so close to the station that they can just smell the number of bikes parked… They send tow trucks in the evenings every fifteen minutes just to collect on their early christmas bonuses. They don’t have to scout the city, they don’t have to wait long for the owners to come with their pounds of flesh… And the sign is camouflaged JUST right so that most people will ignore it in their rush. What more could the tow truck terrorists ask for?
So it’s fun and frolic in Madiwala police station right now. Grab a bag of popcorn and come enjoy the show. Bewildered bikers scratch their heads in co-ordinated unison, wondering how their wheels pulled a David Copperfield stunt and vanished in a puff of smoke… Eventually, they realize the puff of smoke is just the pollution left by the tow truck, and run off to the police station, where the star performer pulls an enigmatic smile and reads out the fines and pockets the dough. You’re also certain to find a few people who argue that there was no signboard put up at the area; If you’re really lucky, they will continue this line of argument until Bangalore’s finest shows them the almost-hidden signboard, the way a magician might reveal the secret compartment in his magic hat.
With unassuming riders still parking in the newly red zone, it’s ka-ching all the way. I wouldn’t be surprised if the current in-charge moves for an early retirement and hosts his farewell party in the Carribbean.
This isn’t even the scary part. If there’s one thing you credit Bangalore traffic cops with, it is quick adaptability. It won’t be long before they carry forward this plan to other senseless areas around the city. In fact, it won’t even stop there. They will probably start mass producing ‘no parking’ signs and carry them around in their tow trucks, looking for areas where people have parked bikes. They will invade every area where three or more vehicles have gathered together, put up one of their signs, cram the sleeping two wheelers on to an ever-expanding tow truck, and wait with custom-made, extra-wide, elastic pockets aimed in the general direction of at confused, but de-biked citizens.
The greatest thing about the plan is that it’ll still remain expandable. One day, you will lie awake at night in your own home, petrified by a genuine fear that maybe… just maybe, the Tow Truck Terrors will put up a signboard in your personal garage and whisk away your vehicle.