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#TeamBritt: Why Britt McHenry’s Outburst Makes Sense

Maybe Britt McHenry was being unwarrantedly abusive. Or maybe she was responding to unpleasant people who had caused her material harm with total impunity.


Years ago when we lived in Old Town Alexandria, our condo complex had a towing company that patrolled the lot for people without HOA stickers on their windshield. One night they towed my wife’s car. Which did have a sticker.

I called the company about this the next morning and politely asked them to bring the car back. They refused. They refused, even, to release the car without us paying the tow charge. They insisted that if the car had been towed, even if it had been towed in error, we still had to pay to get it out of the lot. They were not pleasant about it. Or even apologetic. I got the distinct sense that this was not a customer-oriented industry.

You can see why that might be true. A towing company has customers only in the very loosest sense. They have contracts with the controlling entities whose property they patrol, but these contracts typically involve very little money. Instead, the contracts merely act as a kind of letter of marque giving the towing companies the ability to make money from the people they tow. So the towing companies aren’t responsible to the parties with whom they interact most intimately, and are only vaguely responsible to the controlling parties, who tend to be institutions and not individuals. You can understand why towing companies behave as if they are a law unto themselves.

My story only has a happy ending because I was president of the HOA at the time. I had our management company’s GC call the towing company to inform them they were in breach of contract. At which point they relented on forcing us to pay to get the car back. But they still insisted that my wife had to pick it up.

So she goes out to Arlington to get her car and the asshat running the lot is, well, let’s just say it’s a very unpleasant experience. My wife is a saint who just wanted to get out of the situation. Any normal person would have gone somewhere in the vein of #TeamBritt.

A couple weeks later, the company started towing another car from the HOA lot, which also had a properly displayed sticker. But this time the owner came out and confronted the tow-truck diver as he was in the act. The guy refused to put the car down–he insisted that “company policy” dictated that once a car was hitched to the truck, it could not be released for any reason. They nearly came to blows; fortunately someone had called the cops and the police showed up and forced the tow-truck driver to release the car, telling him that was he was doing was essentially stealing.

Our HOA killed the towing contract at our next meeting.

So maybe Britt McHenry was being unwarrantedly abusive and vile. Or maybe she was responding to some deeply unpleasant people who had caused her material harm with total impunity.