City rules push tow truck driver out of business

(WMC-TV) - New rules governing parking tickets in Memphis are forcing one man to try to quit his job. The tow truck driver says he's been shot at and threatened and now he's had enough.

One tow truck driver is trying his hand at farming.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Patrick Lawrence is towing the line on a turnip and tomato patch on 160 acres of land in industrial Whitehaven.

And even though it's fall, the farm is seeing customers.

"I was looking for greens for Thanksgiving," laughed customer Will Walker.

The 160 acre turnip and tomato patch has a unique name, Fat Pat's Farm Fresh Produce and customers pick their own greens.

Five dollars for a five gallon bucket and just make yourself at home," said the farm's owner Patrick Lawrence. "Pull up to the green barn. We'll be able to assist you."

They also have a fall tomato patch.

After years in the wrecker business, Lawrence decided to go into farming.

"It's quite a contrast. Isn't it," asked Lawrence.

During a tow this Sunday, the angry car owner left bullet holes in Lawrence's tow truck. Four shots at point blank range, just inches from the headrest. If the driver hadn't ducked the outcome may have been different.

"Any time you have a tow truck company, people have a bill coming," said Lawrence. "They don't like it. It's a tough business."

But it's not just the close calls that pushed Lawrence from the towing business.

The Memphis City Council passed a law this month requiring wrecker drivers to sit on the scene until police clear the tow.

Now, some tow truck drivers feel unsafe.

Lawrence said he'd rather pitch produce than bite a bullet.

"It's just hard on my soul," he said. "It's weighed on me a lot. I'm trying to find something to do the next 30 years where I can enjoy life and enjoy people and have a different outlook on them."

He is also bringing an oasis to a food desert.

"There is just not a grocery store within a five mile area," he said.

And Lawrence's plan seems to be working.

"I'll stop in here on a regular basis," said Walker.

Fat Pat's is located at 3670 Holmes. He's open from dawn until dusk, seven days per week. They'll be open half a day on Thanksgiving.

Lawrence also has a produce stand.

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