Our impound lot was a full city block under a freeway bridge. We were often busy, and when we were, the lot would get clogged. We all knew to park impounded vehicles with the drive wheels accessible, so that they could be moved relatively easy with a self-loader. Sometimes this meant unhooking the vehicle in the middle of the lot, going to the other end of the vehicle, and parking it in a space from that end.
Greg was in the habit, even more so than most of my co-workers, of parking his truck in a place where you might have to drive your truck, particularly if you were doing the drop and switch maneuver outlined above. Although there were ample parking spaces in the front section of the lot where you could park your truck when not in use, he just had a hard time nosing or backing his truck into one of those spaces. Sometimes he would even block one or two of those space, rather than occupy one.
This meant that, approximately twice a week, I’d have to get in his truck and move it into a space to do my work. I resented this, especially since I always conscientiously parked my truck in a space, and because the amount of work he saved himself was so little as to render having to listen to my complaining about his behavior completely not worth it. Nevertheless, he persisted.
One evening we had an employee meeting scheduled, and I was towing in a car and cutting it close to the start of the meeting, and when I got to the lot, of course Greg’s truck was out in the center of the lot. I unhooked the car I was towing, then got in Greg’s truck, backed it into a space, and locked the keys inside the cab.
After I parked the car I had brought in into a space, I went into the office trailer where the meeting was being held. Greg almost ran over me as I approached the door. I stepped into the trailer and asked, “Where’s he going?”
“Police call,” one of the other drivers said.
I sat down across from our supervisor and told him, “Be prepared. Greg’s about to go ballistic.”
“Because I just locked his keys in his truck.”
The supervisor hung his head. The door of the trailer flew open, and Greg beckoned me “outside,” to “take care of this.” So I obliged. Our supervisor intervened. During the shouting and finger-pointing, one of the other drivers unlocked Greg’s truck. He stormed off and drove away in his truck, drove around the block, then parked his truck (in a space, interestingly), got in his car, and drove home. He was too angry to work, apparently.
We both got suspended for a day of work. It was the only time I’ve ever been suspended from work. Greg and I worked together peaceably for a few more years. I never had to move his truck into a parking space after that day. Was I right in what I did? Probably not. Did I contribute to the conflict? Yes. Were my actions justified? In an ethical sense, probably not. I prefer, however, to approach things pragmatically. I wanted to stop having to park Greg’s truck in a space, and I never had to do it again.
And sometimes it’s fun to stir things up. It makes work more interesting.