Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let's talk about parking tickets, shall we?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Let's talk about colors today. Colors are very important on the street and unless you are color blind, you have no excuse for ignoring them.

First, traffic lights. They are Red, Yellow and Green. We all know what they mean, right? Even color blind people know which order they appear in and what to do when they see which light is illuminated. Red means stop, no, don't go there! Yellow means ease up and prepare to stop (or floor it to get through the light, if that's your mindset. It's dangerous though and not recommended). And of course green means go, it's okay, what the hell are you waiting for buddy? That light ain't gettin' any greener!

Now, when you see these colors painted on a curb what do they mean? Let's take them in reverse order this time. Green means you have ten minutes to park there. Just ten. Not fifteen, not twenty-five, not all day. Unless you have a handicap placard (and it better be yours, not your grandmother's), then you actually can park there all day.

Yellow is a commercial loading zone that gives commercial vehicles twenty minutes to load or unload their goods. We give a little leeway with the delivery trucks as those men and women (yes, I've seen plenty of them you sexist) have a tough job that you'd probably complain about if you had to do it. Non-commercial vehicles however should NOT be parking in the yellow zones. We generally give those people a little time to pick up Granny at the doctor's office or the like, but it is not for you Mr. or Ms. Average Driver. The truck drivers gripe all the time about people who have absolutely no regard for the yellow zones, thus making their jobs all the more difficult. Come on people, get it together. By the way, handicap placards DO NOT apply to yellow zones.

Now we come to my biggest pet peeve - RED! Red curbs mean, as written in the CA Vehicle Code, No Stopping, No Standing, No Parking. Period. The ONLY exception is if you have an emergency and no, getting a call from your agent does NOT qualify as an emergency (in my case it would be a miracle). Since the cell phone law passed recently in CA, many people think the red curbs were painted specifically for them to pull over and talk on the phone. NOPE! This also includes other excuses like, my baby is crying, I have to look at a map, or I've just burned myself in a sensitive area with steaming hot coffee. Well, maybe that last one is okay. But you get where I'm going with this. Red means NO. NO. NO. .....(Pause) NO! I said this was my biggest pet peeve. The reason for the red zones is safety and visibility. Plain and simple. Especially on corners and especially around schools. Kids need extra visibility and their safety is our number one concern there. Oh, and if you park near a red zone, it's okay as long as you are not IN the red zone. What constitutes IN? Well, we aren't going to cite you if one inch of your bumper is in the red (um, I'm speaking for myself here. Some of my colleagues may have other opinions and believe me, some of them take the job way way WAY too seriously). But for the most part, we go by your tire. If your tire is in, you're in and you will be cited for it. Mostly, in this town, we simply shoo people out of the red zones and this drives me nuts. Folks, please don't stop in the red. If you try to argue with me about it, you may see me turn red with rage. I told you this was my biggest pet peeve - twice already!

This is Officer X signing off. I think Officer X needs a Dos Equis.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Quick Story

I just wanted to get this one down while it's still relatively fresh in my mind. I had found a vehicle parked on the street with it's tags expired over six months. This is a no-no which can result in the vehicle being towed away at that moment. I wrote the citation and began doing the impound paperwork. The young woman who owned the vehicle came out of the guest house behind the house across the street. She pleaded with me not to take her car away and since it was close to Christmas I decided to merely give her a warning (she already had the ticket which she would need to take care of anyway). I told her I'd let her put the car on private property until she could get the registration squared away.

Meanwhile, her landlord appeared and had to move his car out of the driveway in order for her to put hers there. He immediately put his on his front lawn! Now, understand that there was yet a third vehicle in the driveway so there just wasn't room for all of them, but there was plenty of room on the street! I went over and politely told him that parking on the lawn was also illegal and someone might complain about it.

Well, he suddenly turned all self-righteous. "I've lived here for thirty years," he sneered, "and I know all my neighbors. No one will complain. And I also know all the cops in this town." "So?," I asked. "If you cite me I'll just say I was washing it." "And I'll tell them what you just told me." "Ha!," he continued, "I'll take you to court (I know all the judges too) and they'll throw this ticket out and you'll lose your job!" Wow, actual male chest-thumping. Cool.

I knew I wouldn't lose my job, not over a thing like this. I was, of course, laughing inside. For some reason, this man's bizarre self-righteousness was so funny I just couldn't get angry. His logic was crazy. I wondered if he could walk into a bank, rob it and use the same I-know-all-the-cops-in-this-town line and get away with it. If he could, hell, I'd partner up with him. I could really use the extra money.

"Sir," I continued, "I gave the young lady a break and now I'm giving you one. I'm giving you fair warning. I have other things to do right now but when I come back a little later, if your vehicle is still on the lawn, I'm going to cite it. Bye!"

I left while he was still protesting. When I got back there a half-hour later, the vehicle was on the street. I really didn't expect that but was glad. All in all, one of the more humorous exchanges I've had on this job.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Glad Xmas is over

Hello everyone,

Officer X here. I work as a Parking Enforcement Officer for a relatively small town in Southern California. I've been at this job for almost seven years now and there's one thing I've discovered about this particular time of year - it stinks.

Now look, I know nobody wants to get a parking ticket, nobody. But what people don't realize is that when December 1st rolls around, it doesn't mean it's now Xmas and you can break the parking rules all you want. "But it's the holiday season!," people whine to me. "Can't you give me a break?" No. Would you walk into a bank, hold it up and when the cops catch you, use this same logic with them? No, you wouldn't (if you were sane). Why would you imagine that it would work with us? I realize that a parking infraction is vastly different from robbing a bank, but the prinicpal still applies. Hey, you break a rule, prepare to pay the fine. Don't boo hoo to us, we are only there to cite violations. If you want to protest a ticket, take it to the police station where they get paid to hear your protestations. Don't get snotty with us and wish us, in your most sarcastic voice, "Merry Christmas Officer _______!" That doesn't mean much to us.

But, we do know how you feel. When a typical person gets a ticket they feel angry, embarrassed, and frustrated. You think you have been treated unfairly. But after all, we didn't take that money out of your pocket, you did. I will now reveal to you all the one big secret to avoiding getting a parking ticket: READ THE SIGNS! "Can't you give me a warning?," you cry. No, because the sign IS the warning. Now, man up (or in some cases, behave like a lady) and take responsibility for your actions. People who do this are the happiest people. Why? Because they know that they have it within their power to change their circumstances. If you keep blaming us, you'll keep messing up and never solving that most fundamental of issues - personal responsibility.

So, I'm glad Xmas is over. The streets are very busy. The drivers are out in full force doing last minute shopping and other holiday-related errands. But we are out in full force too. Just looking for those for whom this season is just another excuse to break a simple rule then cry when they get caught.

Happy Holidays! (oh wait, there's still New Years Eve to contend with - sigh.)