Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All wet

So we got rain. Lots of rain.

And a low-lying section of highway predictably flooded when the poorly-designed drain backed up like it always does when we get lots of rain.

The highway is under water for a stretch, anywhere from several inches to nearly three feet of water. It’s impassible to most cars at this point so our DPW crews put up barricades to close the flooded section, complete with signs directing people to a detour.

Of course this area is chock filled with stupid people. Not ignorant or uneducated stupid people, but the special kind of stupid people who think that because they drive expensive foreign cars and have high-paying jobs that don’t require them to ever perspire or get dirty, that the laws do not apply to them. Many of them also don’t think that they should have to take detours just because a sign and a few barricades suggest otherwise.

So because these people won’t stop going around our barricades and getting stuck in the water, I get assigned to go take up a traffic post at the south end of the flooded zone to direct the people to the detour and prevent them from going into the water. In other words, I have to force people to not do stupid stuff that any five-year-old would know better than to do. And trust me—they are not grateful. About one in ten feels the need to pull up to me, inform me that they need to be on the other side of the closed section, and ask if they cannot be allowed through.

Sir, that’s a BMW, not a U-Boat, so no.

And then they get all pissy because they don’t know any other route and don’t want to follow the detour signs. Fine. Go home then. See if I care. All I know is I have to sit here all day because if I didn’t, your dumb ass would drive into the water and get stuck, which if I had my way, you’d be allowed, even encouraged, to do. It might even teach you a lesson.

So I sit. And I fend off countless members of the “better-than-you” set who are mad because we’ve dared close the road. But then the inevitable happens, and the unit on the north end gets called away to deal with some sort of actual emergency and a car goes through his barricades and gets stuck in the water. The driver gets on her phone and cried about how she’s trapped and the water is rising—which it isn’t—and she makes such a fuss that I gget called and told to go find her and deal with it. And of course this means that I have to go through the flooded area to get to her.

Oh well…it’s not like it’s my car.

I drive around the barricade and slowly move through the water. At least I know enough to go slow and avoid creating a bow wave that will get sucked into the intake. I also know which sections of the roadway are just a bit higher, so I manage to avoid the really deep holes.

I get to the woman in short order. Her Mercedes is on the other side of the Jersey wall, stalled out in about a foot and a half of water. She’s hysterical and won’t open her door because she doesn’t want the water to get in and wreck the carpeting and seat. She thinks that I’m going to tow her car out with my cruiser. Once I disavow her of that notion, she insists that I call her a tow truck.

Under my breath, I have already called her much worse than that.

I put the call in for Triple A and of course they’re backed up and give us an ETA of three to five hours. This is too much for her, so she finally opens her door—flooding her car’s interior—and climbs over the jersey wall to my car, which is sitting up on the raised shoulder sufficient to keep my interior dry. I then carefully turn around and drive back out the way that I came, because I know that there’s a deeper spot ahead that I could not otherwise get through.

On the way back—a distance of about a mile and a half—there are now EIGHT cars stuck, all of which went around the barrier right after I did, each trying to either command the water to get out of their way or re-enact that scene from the movie Risky Business where Tom Cruise put the Porsche into Lake Michigan. They all either came through too fast and drowned their cars, or drove cars with less ground-clearance than my Crown Victoria.

I then spent the next hour ferrying each of them out, making sure to issue each one a citation for Drive Around Barricade as I did. Surprisingly, they all took the cites without much complaining, but that’s because I don’t think that any of them realized that these citations would give their insurance companies cause to deny towing and repair claims later. But then being stupid is supposed to hurt, or at least cost money. And hopefully they all realize now that no amount of money and no impressive job can exempt you from the laws, particularly the laws of nature and physics.


LOUDnPROUD said...

Great,funny post! here in Cali its raining,as it is no one knows how to drive in dry weather and in the rain it gets even crazier!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

A lot of these cars (especially BMW) have below the radiator air intakes. They suck up the water and hydraulic lock - not good for connecting rods. More than one make of cars have essential electronic controls under the passenger seat.

Even if the insurance companies cover the damage, the report will end up in data bases. Pull a CARFAX and the information will probably show up. Good luck getting top dollar for that car when you sell/trade it.

KD said...

yay for you!!!!

Beat And Release said...

Darn it. I had planned to post on this very thing later this week.

Last October we had a torrential rain and many areas of the city flooded. Even our officers were drowning cars left and right trying to get to hot calls.

I rolled up a street in one of the ghetto neighborhoods and was a bit shocked to find an older woman directing traffic down a side road. Then I observed her car floating a short distance away.

When I got out and approached her she screamed, "How could you let this happen?" "Um, it's raining like a bitch ma'am." "Yeah, but you guys should be out directing traffic." "All due respect, Ma'am, but I'm not the one that drove into a freaking lake. In case you haven't noticed, it's been raining for twenty-four hours and the entire city is flooded. I'll be more than happy to call you a wrecker, though." hehehe.

Texas Ghostrider said...

i have been assigned to barricades for high water before and sure enough they drive around them and my patrol car and straight into the water. The water is anywhere from 2 to 6 feet deep. I write the citation and do a "police" tow on their car. I don't do the AAA thing because of the wait and I like to teach them the hard lession. I guess you "can't fix stupid".

HonkingAntelope said...

Hmm, I haven't heard of insurance companies routinely denying claims on such basis. Is that something that's a common occurrence in your state? That would be a really expensive pill to swallow if that's the case.

A lot of insurance companies will total out flood vehicles on the spot. Carpeting will dry out just fine, but if the water enters the engine or any electrical components and wiring, you'll have never-ending electrical issues, not to mention rust!

Holly said...

back at work after a couple of days off. We don't have rain and it's not even 2 hours into my shift but have already dealt with Stoopid x 3.

Somedays you just don't get paid enuff.

The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

One benefit: Bloggable.

Next time, bring a video camera (or call an off-duty friend with one to come over). YouTube!

2 wheel terror said...

And no amount of money and no impressive job gets you common sense either. It's too bad there's not a vehicle code section for "stuck on stupid".

And with the biggest grin, "Press hard 3 copies."

Moose said...

Not too long ago I was working for a library doing computer stuff.

We had a test machine that happened to be the same model as the computers that people could use to read their email. The difference was that this machine was NOWHERE near the room with the other machines, and could not be used to read email. We put big signs covering the screen and on top of the keyboard saying TEST MACHINE Cannot run (email program) DO NOT USE. The computer people generally worked on it until about 6pm; the library was open much later.

EVERY MORNING we would come in to find the screen cover crumpled on the ground, the note from the keyboard who knows where, and a litany of complaints about how "This machine is broken!"