Das Boot

I speak without any exaggeration whatsoever when I say that the practice of “booting” cars that are illegally parked is absolutely the stupidest activity mankind has ever undertaken in all the history of the world, even stupider than the last Schwarzenegger movie, not that you saw it.

Booting, in case you don’t know, is when a towing company puts a huge metal clamp over one of the wheels of an illegally parked car rather than towing the car away. It’s impossible to take one of these “boots” off by yourself; you have to have special tools and perhaps even the specific body odor of a tow-truck driver to do it. So if your car gets booted, all you can do is call the towing company and wait for them to send someone out to remove the boot, which of course costs money. Booting a car is basically a way of holding it for ransom.

Many Utah Valley residents — particularly the college students, who are always screwing things up somehow — have had experience with bootings, and the reaction is always the same: “Could all of human civilization, working together as a team, come up with anything dumber than this?”

The main reason booting is so stupid is that it defeats its alleged purpose. Around here, cars usually get booted because the drivers have parked them at apartment complexes for which they do not have a parking sticker. The car is in the way; it’s taking up space reserved for tenants. If a tenant came home and could find nowhere to park, he would be very frustrated to find that a non-tenant was taking up a space.

In fact, I have many times come home after a late night of being a journalist, vigorously pursuing the news by way of hanging out at the movies, and found no place to park. This has bothered me, and I am not one who is easily bothered, as the gentle tone of my columns has surely indicated.

I will grant you that my solution to the problem — blowing up the cars that don’t belong there — may be a bit “drastic” in some people’s eyes. But at least it is better than the towing companies’ solution, which is to put a boot on the vagrant car, thus causing it to take up the space even longer.

Assuming we’re discarding the whole “blowing up” idea (which I don’t think we should rule out completely), wouldn’t it make more sense to TOW the car? Not only would it free up the parking space faster, it would also save the tow-truck guy another trip out to take the boot off. If you tow the car, the owner has to come to you.

So why do companies boot instead of tow? Because they’re fantastically lazy. Ferociously lazy. Mind-numbingly, butt-scratchingly, paralyzingly lazy. Booting requires very little manual effort, and even less intelligence. Towing involves hooks and levers and chains and stuff.

The other great thing about booting is that when the guy does show up to remove the boot, you have to pay him on the spot. In cash. They don’t usually take checks, and certainly not credit cards. (Again, we’re talking about companies that want to expend as little effort and brain power as possible.) Do most people have $50 cash on them? Of course not. They would have to drive to the bank to get some cash, which of course they cannot do, because there’s a boot on their car.

In short, booting is just a blatant way for towing companies to make more money. It provides no real service, as it makes illegally parked cars have to remain illegally parked even longer. It benefits mankind in no way whatsoever; this is probably why it’s still a part of our society. The dumb things always persist. Schwarzenegger has another film coming out this year, for example.

To read this, you'd think I'd recently had my car booted. This actually was not the case. But I'd seen it done at my apartment complex, and it bothered me. It particularly bothered me when some dumb guy tried to drive his car with the boot still on it and managed only to back out of his parking space far enough to block passage into the parking lot, so no one could get in. That was a rare instance of someone being dumber than the guys who put the boot on in the first place. I mean, how far did he think he was going to get with that thing attached to his wheel? I ask you, how far?

The "last Schwarzenegger movie" referred to here was 1999's "End of Days." The main problem with this movie was that it put Arnold in a battle against Satan, and I didn't know who to root for. In the end, they both lost, which I thought was a nice touch.