Redskins football enthusiast Fletcher Cohn thought he had struck on a great idea to beat the traffic and parking fees at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
Instead of driving to the game Monday night, Cohn parked his Oldsmobile outside a shopping center in Silver Spring and rode the subway downtown.
But after the Washington team's 27 to 0 victory over the New York Giants, communter Cohn and a dozen other football fans who had parked in the same lot hopped off the subway, sauntered over to the shopping center and found it empty -- except for a big white tow truck and its beefy owner, Timothy Harris of Timothy's Towing Service.
"He wouldn't take credit cards or checks," Cohn lamented yesterday. "We all piled into his tow truck and he took us home for the money."
Cohn said he "scared hell out of my wife" when he woke her up in his search for the $35 fee.
There followed a madcap tow-truck tour of Montgomery County that lasted until 2:30 a.m. before Harris got his money and everybody got his car back.
The Blair Plaza Shopping Center parking lot at 4001 Blair Mill Road has been the site of similar episodes in the past, according to managers of the center which includes a dozen stores and a 12-story apartment house.
Owners contend that commuters, seeking to avoid parking fees at nearby Metro lots, often leave their cars at the shopping center.
Recently, though, management and the center's security service began cracking down on violators and strictly following orders conveyed by wooden signs perched atop light posts in the lot. The signs warn: "Two Hour Parking Only."
"Who'd think to look up in the air to find a parking sign? Cohn asked. "Who'd think they'd tow from a shopping center? It was dark, and besides the stores were closed."
Nevertheless, security guards phoned Harris, and while the Redskins were romping the Giants, the taciturn trucker was towing more than 15 cars from the lot.
"It's a dog-eat-dog kind of business," said an employe of Timothy's Towing Service. "I'm kind of shocked that he went so far as to take the people home to get the money.
"Usually he just says, 'Tough.' Seems pretty magnanimous to me."
Cohn and others were not impressed. "This was a big, bruiser kind of guy. Suppose it was a woman out there that time of night . . . 'It's enough to make people have heart attacks," he said.
After getting his wife out of bed and retrieving the cash at his home at 1220 Blair Mill Road, Cohn climbed back into the truck, and Harris took the football fans to the Silver Spring impoundment lot at 9900 Sidney Road.
"He got out and said, 'All right, everybody line up, and have the money ready,' like we were in the Army or something," Cohn recalled. "Then he took our money and pointed us to the lot. It was so crammed with cars that he had to get mine out for me."
Harris said he was just doing his job. "I think I saved them cab fees. . . They had no business being parked in the lot in the first place," he said.