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.