Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let's talk about parking tickets, shall we?

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Well, once again the exercise-crazed among us are forcing themselves on those of us who would just as soon stay in bed. What I am referring to is the annual Turkey Trot. A 5K (or is it 10K?) jaunt around the area in my little town. They call it a "fun run" which, I can assure you, is no fun for anyone. Especially those of us who have to work the darned thing!

First of all, they hold it on Thanksgiving Day itself. Who could possibly give thanks after having to get up at 4 in the morning to be at the police station at 5, and then put into position by 6 so that when the thing starts at 8, we have already ticked off some citizens by having blocked their route? They also have the nerve to tell us it'll be over by 10. Ha! What they forget is the hardy souls (maybe foolhardy is a better word) who simply can't run that far so they end up walking three quarters of the way. Believe me, they do not finish by 10 o'clock. Some might even finish the next day!

But we, who are supposed to be writing parking tickets per our job description, have to stand out there in the cold and watch these dopes prance by, smiling and waving (I generally wave back but with only one finger). Last year it was so windy that the police barricades we set up (and WHY do they need us if there are barricades, you ask? We ask it too.) blew across the road. It's not easy to retrieve and reset those things, even with gloves on.

And another thing, I generally go to some friends house in the early afternoon for the Thanksgiving feast. How is one supposed to stay awake after getting up so early and then loading up on tryptophan? It's downright rude to the hosts to nod off in the middle of one of their stories.

But, I have no choice in the matter. I can't take a vacation day, personal time, nor call in sick, even though the thought of working this thing makes me nauseous.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm A Believer

Hi folks.

I haven’t written in a while because, frankly, I just haven’t been feeling it. Ya know? When a job you’ve been at for a while gets you into a slow, steady rhythm it can become its own form of highway hypnosis. Especially after the holidays. Then, something comes along and bingo, we’re back in business.

Today I was citing a car that was about three quarters of the way in the red (they still get the full ticket though). A guy who had parked across the street in a two hour zone got out of his car and came over to talk to me. This is usually to ask me if it’s okay for him to park there. Paranoia: so much fun when it’s not mine.
Now mind you, he was on the “other side” of the sign and the sign had no arrow on it pointing to where the sign applies, which indicates that the rule on that sign applies to the entire block. He came over to me and this is how it went (approximately):

Him: Is it okay to park over there?
Me: Yes, for two hours.
Him: But I’m on the other side of the sign.
Me: Is there an arrow on the sign pointing away from your car?
Him: No.
Me: Then the rule applies to the whole block.
Him: But I FIRMLY believe that if I’m on the other side of the sign, I’m okay there.
Me (This is the fictional part that played out in my mind): Oh. You FIRMLY believe. Well, okay then. If you were wishy-washy about it, I’d say no. But since you FIRMLY believe, well, of course. Do whatever you like. In fact, why don’t you try that with every law on the books? ‘Officer, you can’t arrest me for robbing that store. I FIRMLY believe I had a right to do it, because there is no sign on the outside saying not to rob the place.’ Or, 'Mister, I FIRMLY believe I should smash you in the head with this two by four because you insulted my girlfriend.’ Your beliefs are caca, my friend, and totally meaningless!

I wish I could say this type of stuff. It would make my job a hell of a lot more fun. Instead, I told him AGAIN that because the sign had no arrow, the rule applied to the entire block. So, he turned on his heel, got into his car and moved it elsewhere.

I FIRMLY believe he is an idiot.


Saturday, July 6, 2013


Hello citizens,

Occasionally a strange day will just sneak up on you. Last week I had such a day and only now, after a few hearty meals, some good nights of rest, and more than one cold shower, am I ready to write about it.

It all started when I was doing my morning sweeper route. The very last car on my route was from out of state. I won't say where so as to save that state, a state I've been to and admire, a lot of embarrassment. The vehicle in question was TEN YEARS out of registration. I didn't mean to shout back there, but in my ten years of doing this job, I've never seen a vehicle that delinquent. Now obviously, this person drove the car here to California recently with the full intention of registering it here and being a good citizen. Either that or they were just trying to get over on the system. Either way, after pushing my eyeballs back into my head, I had the vehicle towed away. The mind reels (well, mine does anyway - and frequently) at the cost in penalties, towing, fines, and other charges this person has racked up because they made the mistake of leaving their car where it shouldn't have been. After all, if it had been on the other side of the street, I would have driven by and not even noticed it. Mistakes can be costly as we can see.

After that, the day got weirder. I heard a call go out to the police about a pig (yes, a real one - be careful now) that was running amok in the street. This type of call is most unusual as we don't get a lot of pigs doing this. Most of our pigs are quite well-behaved, thank you very much. Listening to the police chatter about it on the radio was amusing, but I'm just glad the pig was not illegally parked or I might have been called to the scene. I can only handle a pig if it is sliced into bacon and put on a cheeseburger.

Later in the day, another strange call came in. This time I happened to be in the office doing some paperwork (oh, the drudgery of it all), and a blind woman called to complain about loud squirrels that were at her window taunting her. .... I'm going to let you sit with that last sentence for a while. ........

Okay, we're back. I don't know what she expected the police to do about this. The last squirrel arrest on record was way back in '42 and that wasn't for taunting, it was for nut stealing. Make your own joke, if you must. I suppose there were many ways for this woman to handle what was for her, obviously, a difficult situation, all of them better than calling the cops.

You would think that I was through with animals for the day but it was not to be. I got a call from my wife in the afternoon. She was at a clothing boutique with her daughter (my step-daughter) and wanted me to come by right away. Thinking there was some kind of clothing choice emergency, I sped there as only a police vehicle can speed through town. When I went inside, they just wanted to show me that the proprietors of the place had kittens for adoption. A cruel trick. Kittens are hard to resist, but I was forceful (you should have seen me). I put my foot down. Thankfully not on one of the kittens. What a day, what a day.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Have A Nice Day

Hello fellow citizens,

Today, as the title of this post implies, I actually had a nice day. I guess I just woke up on the right side of the bed, or maybe it was because the dog and cat slept in their kennel and not with my wife and me (if you have pets you just might understand how good a night's sleep you can get this way). Whatever the reason, and who am I to argue?, I had a good day. Pardon me if I relish this feeling a bit longer. It's just so rare.

It started out as I was doing my morning sweeper route. I was going along and I got onto a main artery in a quiet neighborhood. I was citing a car when from across the street I heard a voice. I don't generally hear voices, you should know. A kind, elderly lady was standing at her front door waving to me. I finished the ticket and headed a little bit her way (I like to get out of there as soon as possible to avoid any unpleasant confrontations, as you can imagine, but I didn't want to be rude). She started telling me how much she appreciated me being there and how she knew how difficult my job was, etc. Then she asked me about my vehicle (we got new ones a year or so ago) and we chatted about that briefly. Then, she said goodbye and before she went in, she threw me a kiss. Now, we're not used to getting kisses thrown at us in this job. I've had invectives thrown at me, I've had the finger (you know which one, don't be coy) thrown at me. I even had an egg thrown at my vehicle (that wasn't nice), but never a kiss. Now, it's true that I'm a devastatingly handsome guy in my mid fifties (a "silver fox" I think we're called) but I really didn't expect this. Of course I couldn't act on it for several reasons: She was way too old, I'm married, and I just couldn't take that much time out of my morning sweeper route. I do have a work ethic, you know.

But wait, there's more!

Later on that morning, I rolled up on a vehicle in a red zone. A woman was dropping off what looked to be an aging hippie. I stopped behind them, shooed her out of the red and she quickly drove away. The guy beckoned to me so I opened my window (I generally hate doing as it lets the A/C out and who wants to talk to the citizens anyway?). He was in fact an aging hippie. He tried to tell me that she was just dropping him off because he was the handyman at the business we were in front of. I told him she shouldn't have dropped him off in the red though, that she could have let him off in their lot which was right there. He hesitated and I told him, "When I see red, I see Red!" He laughed. I assured him that I did not write his friend a ticket. He said, "Hey, I love you, brother," and then he shook my hand. I don't get too many, "I love you's" on this job either.

I helped a few people today, answered a few of their questions, let a few people go...

Yep, it was all in all a very nice day. It's rare and I'm still enjoying it as I write this. I should be in bed by now. Honey, let's put the pets in their kennel again tonight. Okay?


Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Taste of My Own Medicine

Well, it has finally happened. Today I got a parking ticket! Here’s what happened:

My wife and I went to have lunch in the beautiful and always crowded beach town that I will call Santa Moronica. We parked at a dreaded parking meter. I used my credit card to pay (my how far we’ve come. No more fishing for coins out of my over-laden pockets). The meter would only take one pass of the card and gave us fifty-three minutes to walk to a restaurant, use the rest rooms, order, eat, pay and leave a tip. Fortunately we didn’t have time for that last item.

We couldn’t understand the behavior of the meter. Neither did the lovely couple parked in front of us. We looked at the two signs posted on the stubby pole (nowhere near the North Pole for your information), and we all felt confused. The bottom one said that we had two hour parking there from 10AM to 2PM Daily. But the meter only gave us less than an hour. Maybe the uppermost sign would explain everything. We examined it. Nope. It said that the area would be a No Stopping/Tow Away zone daily (!) except for the restriction posted below. To quote the kids today, WTF?

Both we and the other couple spotted a motorcycle cop riding by. They flagged him down (he wouldn’t stop for me, the jerk) and we asked him why the meter would not take any more of our hard-earned money. He grunted: “It stops at two.” He meant 2PM, the Neanderthal. But he didn’t explain to us what would happen AFTER 2PM, the jaded doofus.

So, off we went to eat. I don’t know where the other couple went as we didn’t promise to keep in touch. We returned to the car with five minutes to spare. Whew! However, my wife wanted to go into the camping supply store across the street. We only needed one thing and it wouldn’t take long, which turned out to be true.

As we came out of the store, we saw a police car, overhead lights on, stopped behind my car. I ran over. The parking control officer didn’t care that I worked at the same job, although in a much nicer and more considerate city with much less confusing signage, and would not entertain taking the ticket back. In fact, she wasn’t entertaining at all.

Now I ask you, why would any city place such a bizarre restriction on parking in a shopping district on a Sunday!!! It makes no sense. But you must know that Santa Moronica is not a friendly town. Parking there is a nightmare, as everyone will tell you whether they have been ticketed or not. I have determined not to ever spend any money there again. But, sadly I must say that like every resolution around this time of year, I’m sure I will have to break this one at some point too.

But now I sure know how the rest of you feel when I ticket you. Sorry.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two of a kind

Hello Citizens,

I'm a poker player. I enjoy it. But there is only one thing, one sure thing, that I would bet on. That is, that someone who I catch doing something wrong will blame someone else or feel their misbehavior is somehow justified. Two days, two impounds, two cases in point.

Case 1: Yesterday I caught a pickup truck in the 8 o'clock sweeper zone. The vehicle came up as towable in my cite writer. That means it had five or more unpaid tickets (not necessarily parking tickets). The windows were down so I knew the person was around somewhere and would probably come out as we (I called a colleague over on my radio to assist) were trying to get the vehicle impounded. Sure enough, out he came and immediately started in on us. He knew he owed about fifteen hundred dollars in tickets (really!?!), and so he did. He complained about this and that and then he said something really dumb. He thought that since he'd never be able to get his car out of the impound yard (probably not) and the city was going to sell it, that they should take the fifteen hundred they'd get for it (probably not) and put that money towards his tickets! My colleague and I shook our heads in complete disbelief. There are many things wrong with this ass-ertion. First, the city doesn't auction off the cars, the impound yard does so, they would get the money not the city. Second, I don't think that they or the city would then be interested in paying off the tickets of this bozo who racked them up in the first place. Amazing. We laughed about this one over lunch later on.
Case 2: Today I called for another impound, this time the owners only owed $640 or so in late ticket fees. (Why, oh why don't they just pay them as they get them?) Again the windows were down (it's been hot here), so again I called a colleague over (a different one this time) and we waited for the tow truck to arrive. Anyway, the young lady came out of the house seemingly resigned to the fact that we were going to take the car. She called her husband who, she said, was to blame for all this (Of course! I'm married too. I understand.) and he gave her some bad advice which fortunately she didn't follow (Drive away! Drive away! She couldn't. She had two youngsters in the house). So, she looked at me and said, "Well, it must be God's Will." God's Will? Did He not pay your tickets? Really? Really?!? Then if it's God's Will, hey, I must be a Messenger of God which, if I'm understanding all this kind of stuff correctly, makes me an Angel. Ha! I've been called a lot of things on this job but never an Angel. I wonder if I can get one of those Angel stickers to put in my city vehicle window. Here I come, straight from God! So pay your goddamn tickets! Okay?

Some of them still won't. You can bet on that.

And I bid you all a heavenly ten-seven.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

People people people

Okay, well just one guy really. But he is indicative of the people people people of the title of this post.

Here's what happened. I am doing my 10 o'clock sweeper route (sweeper truck goes by, cleans the street, we come along and cite those who haven't moved their vehicles. Very simple). It's a quarter past 10 and I get out of my city vehicle to cite a pickup truck that the sweeper just went around. You could still see the big wet arc it made on the street around the pickup. I'm writing the ticket on my electronic cite writer when a young guy, maybe around 20 years old, comes out of this house wearing just a bathrobe. The following is an approximation of what was said:

HIM: Are you going to write me a ticket?
ME: Yep.
HIM: Oh come on. I'm ten minutes late. My alarm didn't go off. Really?
ME: You're fifteen minutes late and the sweeper went around you.
HIM: I'm going to call the newspapers. I'm sure they'd love this story. Guy gives guy a ticket who didn't make it out of bed on time. (Did he actually think I'd be intimidated by this?)
ME: You're going to call the newspaper to tell them how irresponsible you were? I don't think they'll go for it. Look sir, you're past the time on the sign and the sweeper went around you.
HIM: Look at me! (At this point he opens his bathrobe. I quickly turn away but not before noticing that he is indeed wearing shorts. Thank heaven) I just woke up!
ME: Sorry sir. (I start walking back toward my vehicle)
HIM: Well, have fun killing puppies today.

Now, when he said this I had to laugh. Out loud. It's a good thing I wasn't facing him or I would have laughed right in his face.

ME: It's not like that, sir. Why, I haven't killed a puppy in years. (I didn't really say that last part but I sure wanted to)

Now I'm back in my vehicle and I watch as he takes the keys out of his robe pocket (I guess he sleeps with them in there) and move the pickup across the street. I'm off to my next violator, laughing the whole way. I mean, to equate what I do with puppy-killing is pretty out there. It's just another example of a person who can't take responsibility for their own actions or the lack thereof. People people people.