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.
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