Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let's talk about parking tickets, shall we?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Toe Story 2

And now, more about my time in the Traffic office at the police station. Damn toe.

One of the things we must do is to retrieve the "72 hour complaints" off of the phone voicemail box dedicated to that purpose. These are supposed to be complaints about abandoned vehicles but you wouldn't know it. Oh, before I forget, let me say that I'm glad they set up this mailbox. Before when you spoke to one of these complainants, they would go on and on and on telling you their life story before getting around to "just the facts, ma'am." Now, you can fast-forward through their messages. Ah, technology!

So, about these 72s. We have a rule here in my little town that a vehicle cannot be parked in the same place for more than a consecutive 72 hours. Essentially, you can't store a car on the street (or an RV, a boat trailer, etc). We leave a little red notice and we chalk the tires (or mark them in some other way) to make sure the owner knows the rule and knows that we're working their vehicle. A lot of times they will simply moved the vehicle up a few inches (Hey, I moved it!). Let me just say this: WRONG! And you can't simply move it from one side of the street to the other. Nope, you can't do that either. It has to break an intersection and go off of the block. You can even drive it around the block and park in the very same spot. But, if your car can't move because it doesn't run, like say, it doesn't have an engine, get it fixed.

Now, about these complaints we get. When you run the voicemails here is what you hear: It's been parked in front of my house for two days! Seven days! Six months (and you're just calling now?)! Recently a woman said this: "I can't water my front yard (!?!)." Why, I thought? Is it parked on your front lawn? Then she let the truth spill out: "My friends can't park in front of my house." Ah. That's really it in a nutshell. So instead of calling in a vehicle which might be abandoned and could actually pose a hazard or could be stolen, it becomes about "I want this car moved (off of a public street, mind you), so I can park there." Nice. Remember folks, you may own the house but your rights end at the end of your sidewalk. The sidewalk, the little grass strip and the street is MINE! The city owns that and we say that other people, you know, the public, can park there too. Make your friends walk a half a block (believe me, they can use it. I've seen some of your friends).

A lot of times, we get the same people calling about the same cars. This can sometimes be another version of the wonderful game show NEIGHBORHOOD FEUD! These things usually get resolved one way or another (jail is not a pretty place, folks, so take it easy, okay?) but often they can go on for years. We don't like this. It wastes our time. I need to go on my break!

My favorites though are during holidays or vacation times like the summer. We'll get calls like: "There's a car I don't recognize on my street." Welllll? People do visit each other, you know. Kids come home from college, and, people have even been known to (gasp!) buy new cars once in a while. But I suspect it all goes back to this: "I can't park in front of MY house."

These are grown-up people I'm talking about here. And most of them have driveways too!Brother.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Toe Story

Hello and ouch. I sprained my right pinkie toe pretty badly (while on vacation, of course and believe me, there's nothing pretty about it) so I had to spend all of last week in the police station working in the Traffic office. Firstly, I was amazed at how many people had broken toe stories of their own. These little things are vulnerable, aren't they? Okay, let's get this out of the way right now. I did not hurt it kicking my wife. That seemed to be the popular thing to ask me (oh those jolly jokesters I work with - every cop a failed comedian). No, I woke up groggy and our bedroom door wasn't quite as open as it usually is and my foot found the edge of the door. It's that old thing about an irresistible force meeting an immovable object (hello, nice to meet you - OOOWWWW!!).

So in the office I was, wearing a rather not-so-stylish sandal-type shoe that I got from the foot doc. With my regular shoe on one foot and this thing on the other, I resembled Igor limping through Castle Frankenstein. I clomped around like a 12th Century Japanese woman in those wooden things they wore (I know I'm digressing here but it's fun).

Whenever I'm in the office, I get to see what kinds of tickets the motorcycle officers write. Following is a list of the three most common:

1) Cell Phone use. There is a law against this in CA (among other states) and yet you'd never know it. This is far and away the most common ticket the police write these days. Ah, give me the good old days when you had two tin cans with a piece of string between them. It's impossible to drive while talking on one of those (I've tried). But what's such an emergency that you can't pull over (NOT in the red, please) and talk? And don't get me started on texting. When I'm driving around on my job, I'm driving in a taller vehicle so it's fairly easy to see people texting in their cars even when they're trying to hide it. Unfortunately, I can't cite for this. Darn. There are bluetooth devices for the talking but so far no bluethumbs for the texting.

2) No Seatbelts. I mean really people, come on. You WANT to fly through the windshield in an accident? Really? There are those who tuck the belt under their arm as they drive. "But look, the belt is on!" This is a no-no as well. The belt must be worn properly. I've actually seen people texting and not wearing a seatbelt. Pathetic.

3) Unsafe Speed. Now, this is hard to avoid sometimes (Ahem, not me of course. I ALWAYS drive completely within the limit - why are you smirking?) But think about it. Texting or talking on the cell phone while driving, not wearing your seatbelt, AND speeding too? That's the trifecta! You WANT to not only go through the windshield, you also want the phone embedded into your skull, don't you? Hey, maybe there's the solution to talking while driving right there. I suppose that's coming.

More on being in the office later. I need to put my foot up (and take a pain pill).