Friday, April 16, 2010

Reader-influenced enforcement...and a new hobby.

OK, readers, this one's on you.

I got a lot of feedback on the previous story regarding the handicapped parking issue, so it was with that in mind that I went out this morning hunting handicapped parking violators specifically.

I got six of them, five for merely being parked in handicapped spots without handicspped tags or placards. But the sixth one was special--that one truly made my day.

I saw the car in a handicapped parking spot in an otherwise crowded area, It had a handicapped placard, but it didn't look right. I know what this state's placards look like, but this wasn't one. I looked closely at it and discovered that it was a special placard issued specifically to a renatl van with handicapped controls--the one that comes with such vans when you rent them temporarily.

The problem was, this was in a Mercedes sedan with standard controls.

In other words, it was an improper tag; a fake. Had I not looked closely at it, I'd have probably passed it by, no doubt as many other officers have done. This person was using the tag to park illegally in spaces reserved for the disabled, and if there's one thing I despise more than thoughtless people, it's calculating scammers who try to get over. This driver got a $250.00 ticket, but the slate's not clean on this one. I'm pretty sure that he works in one of a couple of nearby buildings and now that his days of free parking in the handicapped zone are over, I suspect that he'll try to slide into the adjoining unmetered 3-hour max. zone and hope that no one comes by and actually goes to the trouble of keeping track of who has and has not been there over 3 hours. Many of those employees get away with it because most patrol units don't waste the time doing that sort of thing--and to be fair, I don't either--but now that I know that car, you can bet that I'll be making not of what times I see it, and any time I catch it parked overtime and can document it...$50.00.

We'll see how long it takes for this car to start seeking sanctuary in a pay lot or disappearing from the area altogether. Trust me, I will make the effort to legally ruin this guy's day every chance I get. Like I said, I hate people who try to take advantage of the disabled so he or she will be my personal hobby for a while and it's probably going to cost them.

And you readers who commented on my prior handicapped parking's all because of you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I just couldn't make anyone happy today.

So I'm driving along, minding my own business, and this guy in front of me tosses a cigarette butt out of his window right in front of me.

That's a big pet peeve of mine--it's filthy, disrespectful, and a fire hazard all in one. On go the lights. He went away with a hundred dollar consolation prize, and for some reason he was angry at me, even though he's the one who chose to toss his trash on my road right in front of me.

Then there was the woman who wasn't paying attention while driving. She spun her car out and took out a big road sign and shut down a major roadway at rush hour. I handed her a ticket for failure to maintain control, and she got mad too, but not quite as mad as the other woman who tried to zip around the long line of cars backed up prior to the wreck by driving at least half a mile on the shoulder, only to have me pluck her right out of the traffic flow after she saw me standing on the shoulder ahead of her and forced her way back into the traffic lane. She got two tickets--one for driving on the shoulder and another for cutting off a truck to dive back in as part of her unsuccessful effort to avoid the first ticket.

"Well how is anyone supposed to get to work?" she screamed.

Well lucky for you, I'm already at work. Sign here, please.

Then there was the people in the office building next to a municipal parking lot. The lot is specifically for visitors, not commuters, and that's why the lot has three-hour meters on every spot. I got a call from the lot manager about the lot being full of commuters so I went in and of course almost all of the meters were expired because the commuter cars had been there longer than three hours so I sighed and started writing. As soon as someone in the office looked out and saw me, word spread, and suddenly the lot was full of people frantically feeding meters, all from that building.

Pity that they didn't seem to know that it's also a violation to repeatedly feed a meter. That three hours? That's a hard limit on how long your car can physically occupy that space, and you can't extend it just by recharging the meter. I just kept writing, and the cars of the people that I saw feeding the meters got tickets for that right along with the ones whose meters were still expired.

Now there's a whole building full of unhappy people. Sorry folks--maybe tomorrow you'll park in your company's own lot and pay whatever they charge and stay out of the city's lot. Then I'll be happy because I won't have to write so many freaking parking tickets.

And then, of course, there was the old man in the Mercedes who got rear-ended at a stop sign by a high school-aged girl. It was just a tap and there was no damage to either car but he was going slightly berserk about it when I drove by and saw them parked alongside the road. I stopped and talked to them and looked at the cars. Not a scuff on either one that I could see. Of course he was sure that his Mercedes now had "hidden damage" and he suddenly wanted a police report even though he already had her insurance company's info. He kept pointing to obviously ancient minor scratches on his bumper and telling me that they were new. He wouldn't accept that there honestly wasn't a mark on the car that wasn't there before and I told him that there was no way that I was taking an accident report. I didn't want to have to hammer the girl with a ticket as she was already in tears, and I just didn't feel like wasting another half an hour getting all of the info, filling out the form, and sketching the scene when there was no injury or damage. So I sent him on his way--unhappy, of course--and then got the girl to run along. Now even I was finally cross.

But then I found a car parked in a handicapped spot in front of a store where I regularly go for coffee. It had no handicapped tag or placard (pet peeve #2) and it was running and unattended (pet peeve #3). That was two more tickets--handicapped parking violation and running unattended at $250.00 each, both of which I eventually handed to the fit and able-bodied young lady about 25 years old who came out of the store with a coffee in one hand and her cell phone in the other just as I was starting to write the second one. Naturally she was unhappy, but I have to confess that it did cheer me up a bit.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Raising other people's kids.

So once again, I find myself in the position of having to raise some other woman's child.

This time, I was investigating something in front of the local bus and train station. When that turned out to be nonsense, I went inside for a cup of coffee. (And yes, I paid full-price for it. My cop-hating readers have no need to worry about the possibility that I might have accepted a free cup of Starbucks.)

I was standing in line there when I observed a young boy maybe eight or nine years old just lie down on the floor. He was with the woman ahead of me in line, and as it turned out, she was his mother. She was begging him to get up off the floor, and he kept refusing, telling her that he was tired. So what did this adult do when the little child would not obey her commands? That's right--she continued to beg. "Please, Jeffrey. Please get up off the floor..."
But Jeffrey wasn't about to get up. It was obvious that he's comfortable disobeying and disrespecting his mom.
Then as so often happens, she saw me. "Officer, can you please make my son get up off the floor?"

Damn. How did I get wrapped up in this? Why do I have to choose between being the bad guy in the kid's eyes, or blowing this woman off in front of everyone else in the area who is now watching? What do I do if he tells me no? I can't just snatch him up by the ear like she should have done two minutes ago...

I sigh. Then I lean down and whisper to the boy.

"Hey. You see those bums over there?" I point to a couple of the local bus-station regular homeless who were slouched in the corner with their trash bags full of junk.

Jeffrey looked over. "Yeah."

"They spit on this floor. A lot."

"Oh, GROSS!" Jeffrey yells, scrambling to his feet.

Problem solved. Mom thanked me and remarked how Jeffrey is at that age where doesn't like to listen to her any more (and I refrained from telling her to learn to control her own kid) and another woman in line gave me a smile and a little "golf clap". Jeffrey was still standing when I paid for my coffee and left.

I can't help but think that it's going to be a long road for both Jeffrey and his mom unless she learns to get control over him.