I Was a Repo Man
By Steve Gillman
We were busy hooking up, but I was listening...
"It's just the repo man," the father told his son.
"But daddy, why is he taking our car?" the little
boy asked, while his mother was digging out the last of the clothing
that was frozen to the floor of the trunk.
"Son, we didn't make the payments, and when you can't
pay for it, you don't get to keep it," he explained, and
he handed me the keys. I would drive the car instead of hooking
it up, and my brother, Jason (who owned the towing business)
drove his tow truck, so it would be ready for the next repossession.
The little boy watched from the yard as the repo man drove away
in the family car.
I don't recall exactly, but they probably owed less than a
thousand dollars on the car, and it was worth even less than
that. I stopped occasionally to use snow to clean the windshield
- the wipers were broken. If only all our repossessions went
Another Repo Story
We were in a small town to take some Pontiac. We cruised behind
the bars in town - generally a good place to look. At the second
one, we found the car, and checked the VIN (vehicle identification
number) to be sure. No keys for this one, so we would have to
The wheels were turned slightly, and Jason decided it would
likely hit the brick wall if we tried to pull it out. We would
have to go inside and ask the owner for the keys. He was at the
bar, and he pretended not to hear a word we said. He just continued
to stare at his drink. Everyone else in the place heard us, though,
and they were all his friends.
The crowd began to form as Jason hooked up the car. There
was nothing more than rude comments, but then, as the car was
pulled out, it bounced off the wall. The turn-signal light cover
was broken, and the pieces of red plastic drove the crowd wild.
They began yelling and threatening us, and unfortunately, we
had to stop right there to hook the car up properly.
I took my baseball bat and ran in the back door and through
the bar to the phone, where I quickly called the police. I ran
back out, waving the bat around, and found Jason standing on
top of the tow truck, with the angry mob circling below him.
Someone threw a beer bottle, and we later discovered that in
the chaos my brother lost a toolbox full of expensive tools.
The police arrived quickly, adding their own insults (nobody
likes a repo man), but they kept the mob at bay while we hooked
up. At least there was no fist fight, and no gun pulled on us,
nor any shots fired over our heads. These things would happen
on later jobs.
Jason never was paid enough for the work, in my opinion, and
he gave me just $15 per car retrieved (this was almost 20 years
ago). On our best night we probably repossessed four cars. The
moral of the story is clear - there are better ways to make a
living than being a reposession agent.
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