Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No, I don't have infinite patience for fools.

I started off this evening responding to a call from another agency nearby for an officer in trouble. Enroute to that scene, another one of our units gets t-boned by an inattentive driver as he goes through an intersection on a green light with all of his emergency gear working. She admitted that she was messing with her ipod and didn't see or hear him. Fortunately he wasn't injured, but his take-home cruiser is going to be in the shop for a while. Needless to say, we never got to the officer in trouble scene--I was redirected to our crash to assist, and I got to spend the better part of the next hour directing traffic at a major intersection in the city during evening rush hour. The crash was right in the middle of the intersection and it and the rescue vehicles blocked most of it, so that meant that most people who wanted to go straight got to make right turns instead just to get traffic moving. Naturally, about every third or fourth car driver insisted on trying to either coast past me and try to wiggle around the crash despite my direction, or else they would stop and ask if I wouldn't let them go the way that they wanted to go, ambulance and fire trucks and flares be damned.

Adding to the fun was any number of pedestrians who insisted on crossing wherever and whenever they wanted, with to regard for the traffic direction that I and another officer on the opposite side of the wreck were doing. And then there were tools on bicycles that also ran hither and yon and messed up our traffic pattern.

All of this I still managed to deal with, and we managed to keep the traffic flowing even if a lot of people had to go a block or two out of their way. As irritating as some of these people were getting to be, I refrained from shoving any of the pedestrians over the snowbank, and I even resisted the temptation to thrust my ASP into the spokes of any of the bicycles that rode right through the gridlocked traffic and made cars that I was moving come to a stop right where I didn't want them stopping. So I was doing pretty good, and keeping my frustration in check until I heard the horn.

Beeeeeeeeeep! Beeeeeeeeep! Beeeeeeeeep! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Sitting a dozen or so cars back from the intersection, stuck in the mess like everyone else, was a very impatient man behind the wheel of a BMW. He was blowing his horn, apparently trying to get all of the other people that I was holding up to move out of his way. And even though traffic was moving slowly, he kept on with the horn.

He finally got up to where I was, and I motioned for him to turn right. However he pointed his car at me, rolled down his window, and yelled "I need to go that way!", indicating that he wanted to pass through the crash scene.

OK, in the words of one of my childhood idols, I've had all I can stand cuz I can't stand no more.

I motioned for him to pull into the one open lane, then I stopped him and walked up to him. "I want to go that way!" he says as I get to his window.

"Give me your driver's license," I tell him.

"Why are you asking for my license?" he asks.

"I didn't ask for it. I told you to give it to me." I give him a look back that makes it clear that I'm not about to kiss his ass or play games with him. He complies, and I tuck it into my pocket. "Now pull over there to the curb and turn this car off. Stay in the car and I'll be over to deal with you when I'm done here."

"Look, I'm trying to get home and I'm late," he says.

"You're going to be later. Now pull over there and turn it off." He did, and I went back to directing traffic, basically ignoring him other than to look up and make sure that he was still there every few minutes.. And he sat there until rescue cleared and the wreckers hauled the cars away and we could open the intersection up to normal traffic again. I went back over to talk to him.

"I want your name and badge number right now!" he demanded.

"Well I'm going to be writing both of those down for you in a minute," I told him. Of course it was going to be on a ticket, but I didn't add that. Had he been contrite by this time, I would probably have just let him go with a warning since I'd basically given him a time out for twenty minutes. But his continued attitude that he was somehow in charge or otherwise entitled pretty much killed any inclination on my part to let him slide. After all this time to reflect, he still wasn't getting it.

So I told him that he was being given a citation for excessive use of horn, and that if he wanted to contest it, he could call the number on the back of the ticket and request a court date and then he could explain to the judge why he felt the need to sit there in stopped traffic at a crash scene and lay on his horn.

"I'm don't have a problem with the ticket," he replied. "I can pay these all day. But where do you get off making me sit here for half an hour? I had someplace else to get to and you had no right to keep me here like that!"

So I sighed and explained to him what should have been obvious to the average five year old: There was a crash here, people were hurt, the road was blocked, and everybody else had to wait and detour around it just like he did. And since everyone else managed to handle the slight inconvenience without throwing a road-rage temper tantrum, I decided that his behavior warranted a citation. However the circumstances didn't permit me to drop everything else and write one right then and there so he had to wait his turn for it. If that meant that he had to sit for a few minutes, too bad. I also told him that if he wanted to speak to my supervisor, he was more than welcome to go find a parking space and walk back here. My sergeant was on scene dealing with the crash and had been here the whole time. I pointed my sergeant out to him, but the guy declined and drove away.

He may complain tomorrow, but that's fine. I can deal with this one easily enough, the ticket still stands and he can't get his half an hour back. I'll just never understand how people that immature get to the point where they can afford a BMW.


The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

I'm jealous. I wish I had the power to give those kinds of time outs, even without the ability to cite.

Is it illegal for a firefighter to *ask* for a driver's license and *ask* someone to pull over? Not order, you see, but request? Then give it back and dismiss them later?

Probably result in a complaint, but... legal? :D

OK, I won't. But... dang, that is tempting.

Jake said...

I was giddy with delight while reading this story.

Sometimes, justice is incredibly sweet.

Firelady said...

For making an impatient asshat wait, you are my hero for the day.

Thomas said...

You mean it's actually illegal to excessively use your horn? Is that unique to your city/state? Or is that pretty common in most areas?

Officer Krupke said...

Thomas, I think that you'll find that it's illegal everywhere. Your car's horn is meant to be used as an emergency warning or signaling device--it's not a noisemaker to be used when your team wins or because you want to irritate, insult or cajole someone. It's not often charged, but in every one of the handful of instances when I have issued a ticket for that violation and gone to court on it, it has been upheld.

And Grumpy Dispatcher, I wouldn't recommend a firefighter doing it. The issue then becomes one of actual authority vs. apparent authority, and that's not one you want to try to defend in court if some joker thus detained comes back and charged false imprisonment, unlawful arrest, or some other charge based upon an improper and non-lawful detention.

Dan said...

Well done on the Popeye reference... I'm 22 years old (young?) and I can still remember the day my grandparents got the Cartoon Network and I fell in love with that spinach lovin' bastard. You just made my day.

Ginny said...

I got a good laugh from your story. Traffic direction is really the pits. Do they think you are standing there for you health??

Mad Jack said...

Yes! Excellent! Giving this ass hat a time out is far and away better than any tickets you could write.

The sheer hubris that people like this display amazes me. Where do they acquire that sense of entitlement?

Ann T. said...

Dear Officer Krupke,
That really was a sweet one.

I don't know how they get their BMWs either. They must do it by running over everyone else who gets in the way of their path. I suspect your revenge was even sweeter than you know.

"I can pay tickets all day"
He's an ass.

Thank you,

Ann T.

Ten 80 said...

One of the most satisfying days of my career was while working a bad accident and a car drove around all the cones and flares and tried to drive through. I leaped out of the way and swung my big polymer flashlight. I *crushed* the side view mirror of the car. It shattered into tiny pieces. Amazingly my polymer flashlight was fine. The sudden explosion of the mirror rectified the cranial/rectal inversion of the driver and they stopped. I added several tickets to the mess of the mirror and directed the car back the way it came. Good times. Good times.

Sasha said...

Awesome! You just made my day a little sweeter.

*Goddess* said...

It's kind of scary how we act in society today. We don't care if anyone has been hurt or killed, we just don't want anything to delay OUR schedule.

Mr. 618 said...

I don't think it's immature people buying BMWs, Porsches, Jags, Audis, etc. I think it's more that people who can afford those vehicles suddenly turn into immature little WATBs as soon as they get the keys.

My favorite was some local jamoke who had a Mazda RX 7 (yes, back in the 80s), left it running outside a pizza joint while he ran in (and ordered and waited, he hadn't even placed the order earlier) and was surprised when his car was stolen. Cops recovered it the same night and next night, HE DID THE SAME FRACKIN THING! Of course, this time it was wrecked and torched by the time the cops found it (I understand they were busy with barking dog complaints). He bought another RX7, which was also stolen, then -- for some reason -- he couldn't get insurance.

Anonymous said...

I'll just never understand how people that immature get to the point where they can afford a BMW.

Sadly, I work with a guy like this. He torqued some citizen off so badly one day that the other guy called the police to report a reckless driving incident. After a uniformed officer shows up to hand my coworker a citation (which to everyone's surprise is a Colorado thing), the guy has the nerve to complain about getting a ticket in a company meeting. Every single person in the office had a story of his horrible driving - including his own brother.

He tried to fight the ticket in court and lost, raising the about $100 ticket to just over $400. Now he wants to appeal it and that's going to make it more than $1k more.

How does he afford the beemer? He's got enough collection agencies calling that he gets several calls per day.

Marjorie said...

I'm curious, based on the 'I can pay tickets all day' comment - once a ticket for speeding (or whatever) is paid, are there any further consequences? Do drivers have to declare tickets when getting car-insurance? Is there a totting-up proceedure where a driver can losr his or her licence?

I am from the UK, where tickets for speeding also carry penalty points, as do convictions for dangerous/careless driving. 'Points' stay on your licence for a set period and if you get more than 12 points you automatically get discqualified from driving.

So a speeding ticket is not just a £60 fixed penalty fine, it's also a minimum of 3 points on your licence, and if you get 12 penalty points within 3 years you lose your licence.(fewer for those caughtwithin 2 years of passing their test)

Someone who is disqualified can be required to pass a new, extended driving test before they can get their licence back, even when the original disqualification has expired.

Points also have to be declared when you apply for or renew your insurance and (I assume) would mean you get higher premiums.

I've seen from posts here and elsewhere that a Judge may increase a fine to take into account where someone has previously been cired for the same offence but no mention of other effects of getting a ticket. Do the courts have any power to require someone to re-take a drivers test?

HonkingAntelope said...


Unlike UK, the rules are different in each of the 50 states. In general, however, every state has a similar system of assigning a number of penalty points depending on the severity of the offense.

Here in CA, penalty points are given out only for violations that involve unsafe operation of a vehicle (aka moving violations). For example, an unsafe lane change, driving on the wrong side of an undivided highway, busting a red light, or driving 30mph above the posted limit gets you one penalty point plus the fine if found guilty. On the other hand, violations such as constantly tooting the car horn, driving inside a carpool lane without a passenger, or talking/texting while driving carry a fine, but no penalty points.

Major violations such as driving while drunk/stoned, fleeing a police officer, or speeding over 100mph cost two penalty points and most of them are prosecuted as misdemeanors rather than mere infractions, which means that mild jail time is a possibility, on top of a steep fine at that!!!

California suspends licenses of drivers who accumulate 4 or more points in one year, or 6pts in 2 years, or 8pts in 3 years.

Officer "Smith" said...

"I'll just never understand how people that immature get to the point where they can afford a BMW. "

Actually, in my experience it's the ability to afford the BMW that creates the immaturity. When folks grow up with money, having everything they want handed to them on a silver platter, they come to believe they are the most important person in the world and everyone else needs to get the hell out their way.

I stop those all the time, and I actually ENJOY citing them.