Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let's talk about parking tickets, shall we?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Buddy, Can You Spare a Quota?

Hi everyone,

Well, here we are. Another Christmas season come and gone (Whew!). And am I ever glad. Although this particular Christmas wasn't too terrible, it had its share of people who made me feel I don't know what the spirit of the season is and I don't want to know! It seems that as soon as we hit December 1st, it is now the "Holiday Season" and we should refrain from giving tickets (a refrain I'm getting pretty sick of hearing). This time, Christmas week wasn't so bad, as I said, but New Year's Week - oh, brother. New Year's Day falls on a Sunday this year (coincidentally, so do I), and the city takes off on Monday. That means there is no street sweeping, trash collection and such. But person after person I encountered this week seemed to believe that New Year's Day started today (Friday) and their violations shouldn't count somehow. Many people demanded that I "do the right thing" and let them go. I found this very annoying. I was doing the right thing! Just ask my boss! It's the whiny entitlement aspect of it all I find so frustrating. "There's a holiday a few days from now so you should let me go today." Please. Go change your diaper. You stink.

Oh yeah, as to the title of this post: one lady I cited for the sweeper going around her vehicle got in my grill big time insisting that we must have a quota and I'm just doing this to fill that requirement, blah blah blah. I actually started feeling myself getting angry at this... person. I told her to go ahead and call the chief of police and ask him (he loves having his time wasted answering questions about parking control). We don't have a quota, we don't need a quota. A quota would only slow us down.

Okay, I understand. Times are tough; money's tight. But that means we as citizens have to take even more responsibility to make sure we are doing the right thing. It's cheaper, for one, and it creates better karma. I had one guy accuse me of being a robot. You know, just unemotionally giving him the ticket. I wish. It would be a hell of a lot easier on me (I'm so delicate) if I was emotionless. I think the Vulcans have it right sometimes. So, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. ...Damn.

Have a happy 2012 and, to paraphrase Admiral What'shisname, Screw the Mayans, full speed ahead!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't egg me on

Well, fellow citizens, I was having a pretty good day up until late this afternoon. I had just taken my vehicle to the car wash that we use and then decided to go check out a trouble spot that I am aware of in my beat. Who knew it would be more trouble than I bargained for? I got to the street and what did I find? One in the red zone on one side and another by the hydrant on the other side. Jackpot! So, I parked in the middle lane (we can do this), put my flashers and overhead lights on, and got out - carefully. I cited the one in the red, then I cross the wide boulevard to go over to cite the one by the hydrant. I'm looking down to get the plate when I hear: Booossshhh!

I look up to discover that someone has thrown an egg at my vehicle striking the windshield on the left side. Fortunately we drive looking out on the right side. But I mean, I had just gone to the car wash! I couldn't believe it! I did not see who threw the potential chicken as they must have done it from a car and sped off. I was more bummed than pissed. I also realized it could have been worse in a couple of ways:
Way 1 - they could have thrown it at me!
Way 2 - they could have thrown a rock.

One of the cops later told me, "Good thing it wasn't a bullet." I hadn't thought of that. Thanks.

The windshield washer and wipers were fairly ineffective, so back to the car wash I went. They cleaned it up all right, however, the inside of the vehicle smelled like cooked eggs the rest of the day. Not pleasant really.

This is the first time this has happened to me in all the time I've been on this job. Is it any wonder I'm ready to retire?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Whaddya Know?

There are two things that drive me, Officer X, completely nuts when I’m out there writing tickets. Let’s say I catch somebody in a red zone (I wish you people would stop feeding my pet peeve already! He’s big enough as it is). When I pull up along side them to chase them out (which is not what I prefer to do but hey, Lieutenant’s orders) and I say to them “You can’t stop in the red (I respectfully leave out the word - asshole)” they will say one of two things in response. (No. Guess again. No. Okay, let me tell you.) They will say either, “I know.” To which I will generally say “You know but you did it anyway?” leaving out the word I’d love to scream, or they say “Oh, I didn’t know.” Really? You didn’t know? You have a driver’s license but you didn’t know that you can’t stop, stand or park in the friggin’ red? Wow, you really are an asshole then aren’t ya? Red means NO pretty much everywhere in the universe except maybe Mars. Is that where you’re from?

Sometimes I’ll ask them if they indeed have a driver’s license. Hey, you never know. When they start to say something again, I usually just chase them out with sharp words and mean looks (It’s fun. Try it sometime.) because I really do not want to hear their mealy-mouthed excuses.

The red can be stopped in if it’s an emergency. An emergency. A real one. Not something you decide is an emergency. The list is endless of what people think is an emergency so I’ll spare you. Sometimes, if I can remember and I am not crabby from not having eaten, I’ll ask the person if they are having car trouble. If they say yes then my whole demeanor changes. I actually do want to be helpful to people who can use my help. After all, with my trusty police-issued radio, I can summon policemen, firemen, ambulances, you name it. Well, ice cream men maybe not. But if they are not having car trouble and are just being stupid, then I go crazy behind my phony smile. I tell you, it’s tough on my back teeth. I’m grinding them down to nubs.

So please, if I ask you about being stopped in the red or any other of the dozens of parking infractions that you are doing or about to be doing, don’t say “I know” or “I didn’t know.” It makes me insane. Ya know?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another turkey move

People, people, people. Come on. Oh, pardon me, hello citizens. Today I'd like to discuss a bone-headed move by one of you in my little town. You know who you are and if it's not you, then don't do this okay?

I was doing my 8AM sweeper route and came across a car (a Benz, no less) in the sweeper zone that had no rear plate. Or so I thought. This is a drag because it means I have to get out of my vehicle. It's cold, I was listening to something interesting on the radio, why piss me off?

Okay, so I get out to read the VIN (vehicle identification number - to say "VIN number" is redundant and I won't do it), and what do I discover? He or she had left the front plate on the car. I went around to the back and found that she (turns out it was a woman's car. Still it could have been a male driver. Who knows how relationships go these days and what with our community property laws in California, you know...) had put a dealer plate OVER her rear plate to cover up the fact that it was more than six months out of date. Tsk, tsk, tsk. If you're not going to register your car, don't park it illegally in some other way! Duh!

So, the final verdict was this: I cited her for the sweeper violation. I cited her for the expired tags, AND I cited her for covering her plate. Three for the price of one! I know this sounds harsh but really I could have towed her car away and as you know, that can run into big money.

So this Thanksgiving, I hope she was thankful that I was so nice to her. But I'm betting she was not.

Digest this (and your turkey) well.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

You're a 10 (code)

As promised, my dear citizens, here are the 10 codes used by our local force (and also by us. We can’t use force). I probably shouldn't be publishing these because they are after all, codes. But, if Julian Assange can do it, what the hey.

10-1 = Receiving Poorly (This does not refer to your favorite football team)

10-2 = Receiving OK (Good hands)

10-4 = Check; OK (Well, we all know this one from the CB craze in the 80’s, which we’d just as soon forget, or if you’re old enough, from Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol. I do not remember this.)

10-5 = Relay (I have no friggin’ idea what this means and I’ve never heard anyone say this on the radio. Maybe in a race.)

10-6 = Busy (Could be busy doing anything so don’t bother me now. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)

10-7 = Out Of Service (This restaurant stinks. Let’s go eat somewhere else)

10-8 = In Service (I’m available for calls. Said reluctantly by most PCO’s.)

10-9 = Repeat, Conditions Bad (I couldn’t hear you with the rock station in my vehicle turned up so high)

10-10 = Out of Service, Subject to Call (Huh? I thought I was out of service. What the -?)

10-13 = Weather Condition (People usually just say it’s raining)

10-14 = Escort (And she’s better be over 18)

10-15 = Suspect in Custody (Thankfully, we’d never say this.)

10-16 = Pick Up Prisoner @ ______ (We never pick anyone up [unless they’re over 18])

10-17 = Pick Up Papers (You slob)

10-19 = Return to Station (And I mean it. Don’t make me ask again. Sometimes we say this if we are, you know, going back to the station. It’s nice there)

10-20 = What is Your Location (Honestly, some people are so nosy)

10-21 = Call __________ by Phone (Not unless you tell me who!)

10-22 = Disregard (Fuggedaboudit!)

10-23 = Stand by (No one EVER says 10-23. It’s easier just to say Stand By. How silly to make a code for this)

10-28 = Full Registration (No, not at a hotel. We say this to get the info on a car we might be citing, like whether it’s registered or not [That year tab looks fake to me])

10-29 = Check for Wanted (In other words, can you see if this vehicle is stolen? If so, I’m outta here)

10-33 = Emergency Information (I’d never say this. I’d be too busy screaming)

10-35 = Confidential Information (I guess I’d better not tell you what this means)

10-36 = Time Check (Look at your watch you lazy bastard!)

10-42 = Officer @ Home (Yep, and that’s where I’m stayin’)

10-97 = Arrived @ Scene (Hey man, I’m always on the scene baby)

10-98 = Completed Last Detail (Not the movie with Jack Nicholson. It means I’m done with what you just had me do…and now I’m going back home. Quit bothering me)

That’s all of them. Aren’t you glad you now know all this? I expect every one of you to commit these to memory. Heaven knows I can’t.

10-7 (I think)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Fun Little Story

I gave a sidewalk ticket today (my least favorite as you know). After I was done, of course the whole family came out of the house (the man first). He comes over waving the ticket and speaking in an accent I think was from Uranus or somewhere. He says, “Why did you give us a ticket?” I patiently explained that his SUV was parked too far over the sidewalk. “But this is my private property!” No sir, I explained again patiently, the property lines starts after the sidewalk. Then the wife (whose car it was) chimes in. “What does it say in the vehicle code?” Such erudition for a troglodyte. I explained again somewhat less patiently what the code was. Her husband looked back at her and her sister? His sister? He said something in Uranian and they quickly shut up. I guess he said I’ll handle this bastard or something equally wonderful. He throws the ticket into my vehicle and says, “You cannot give us a ticket!” I take the ticket and say “I’ll just mail it to you then.” He says, “No! You cannot mail it. You cannot mail it!” (Yes, we can) So I figured, okay, and just got out of my vehicle and put the damned thing back on his wife’s windshield. Now he’s really getting worked up. “I’m going to sue you! What is your name?” I wouldn’t say even though it’s stitched on my shirt in a nifty patch over my breast pocket. Then he bellows, “You will remember this day! You will remember this day!” Well, I guess so. I’m writing about it. But honestly, I’d just as soon forget it.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pardon me, but your pants are on fire

There are a lot of pants on fire in my town. That's because when we are approached by a citizen that we are in the process of citing, they usually lie to us. I don't like to be lied to, do you? It's degrading to both of us, isn't it? Don't get me wrong, I understand why the person feels compelled to twist the truth - to prevent a loss of money - but it still stinks. Some examples of the kinds of lies we hear on a regular basis are things like, "I have only been here for five minutes." Nah, they've been there for over two hours and the chalk doesn't lie. Or, "I moved it." This one gets a bit tricky because if the chalk mark is now on top of the tire, yes, they moved it - a few inches. So technically it's really more of a half-truth, but they're still going to be cited for it. Or how about, "This isn't Tuesday, it's Wednesday." I had a guy argue with me for ten minutes trying to psych me out into thinking it was the wrong day and he didn't deserve the street sweeping ticket. Of course, the day of the week is printed right on the ticket, but I have to give him a point or two for trying, fruitless as it was.

Lies can also take other forms too. Take for example, the note. People will leave notes on their cars when they park them in the sweeper zone and can't be bothered to get up early and move the damn thing, or they've gone out of town to visit Grandma and they can't be bothered to move the damn thing, or they are simply so dumb they think it's Wednesday and they don't think they have to MOVE THE DAMN THING! These notes can range from such excuses (or lies) as "My battery is dead" (More like your brain is dead.) Or, "Can't find the keys." (Did you look up your butt?) Or simply, "Won't start." (Then, push it.) By the way, we have to honor these pathetic notes because, well, batteries do die when a person leaves their lights on overnight, say, or the car has no battery in the first place. However, if we see the same car with the same note on the following week, it gets a ticket. We now know you are out of town visiting Grandma. But we do hope her lumbago is feeling better.

The worst case happened a few years ago. A young woman was in the red zone near the post office. She was in the post office and her large doggie was walking around on the back seat. I pull up, she comes out and she turns red in the face (redder than the red zone, in fact), makes tiny fists with her little hands, storms over to me like a drunken sailor on shore leave and says, "Are you going to give me a ticket?" "Yes, ma'am. You can't stop in the red." "But my dog is dying and I'm taking him to the vet." "So, you stopped at the post office to....what? Mail his will to his lawyer?" The dog did not look sick at all. As I said, it was walking around on the back seat acting dog-like. By this time, steam was coming out of the petite woman's ears. I started getting angry, which is never a good thing for us to do. The more Vulcan-like we can be about our jobs the better. But the way she approached me, frankly, I thought she was going to hit me so the fight or flight response welled up in me and since we can't flee, we go into fight mode. What happened was, I actually let her go - a decision I regret bitterly to this day. And guess what? She didn't go to any vet's office. She drove away fast and turned up into one of the residential streets. I was so pissed off, that what I said when I got back into my vehicle cannot be shared here.

We know our job is not welcomed by a large majority of the driving public. Just don't look at me and lie. We are human and we don't like it. And we always know.


Monday, October 24, 2011

I have a code

You may have noticed (those of you who are paying any attention whatsoever), that I sign off all of my blog posts with the police code 10-7. That means I'm Out of Service, or I'm done for the day and I'm not answering if you call me on this here radio. Take your pick. We use a lot of codes in the policing biz, so as a public menace, I mean service, I thought I'd tell you what some of the other codes mean. At least, the ones we use in my little town. They differ from state to state and department to department. For example, if I'm going Code 7 that means I'm out of service so I can stuff some food into my face. In some Florida cities Code 7 means there is a dead body, so you can see why you wouldn't want to mix those up. By the way, Code 7.8 means the food at this restaurant tastes like a dead body, so don't eat here.

So, here are some (mercifully for you not all) of our codes:
Code 3 - Emergency (or Come Save My Ass Using Lights and Sirens)
Code 4 - No Further Assistance Needed (I'm cool. Y'all can chill)
Code 5 - Stake Out - Other units stay away
Code 5.1 - Steaks Done - All units come and get 'em
Code 57 - Bring steak sauce
Code 6 - I'm out for investigation
Code 6.9 - I'm out for a good time

Now, there are a lot of Code 6s so they use names to designate between them. Such as:

Code 6 David - Subject is armed and dangerous
Code 6 Pooh - I need new pants
Code 6 Jeffrey Dahmer - Someone ate the subject
Code 6 Robert - Sex registrant
Code 6 Robert Plant - Hotel room wrecker
Code 6 Sam - Vehicle is stolen
Code 6 Damn! - My vehicle is stolen
Code 6 Victor- Violent offender
Code 6 Iwiwi - I wish I was invisible
Code 10 - Only unit available
Code 10.5 - Are there any single female units available?
Code 867-5309 - Jenny's number
Code 35 - Infectious disease
Code 35.9 - Forget Jenny

These are but a few. Come back next time and I'll go through the 10 codes. Until then,

10-7 (now you know)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

High Times and Misdemeanors

Hello all you wonderful citizens,

Well, today I had a first on this job. After almost nine years as a Parking Control Officer, I was impounding a car today and I found drugs inside! Well, a drug. Well, a little pot. But still! Okay, here's what happened:

I was looking for a different car I had seen while tooling around whose tags looked like they were expired in 2010. So, I circled the block and came up a side street. Looky there! An SUV from, da da da dah! Texas. I always check the vehicles from Texas because they are notorious for not registering their cars in Texas or when they leave Texas (Now you know one of the reasons I'm rooting for the Cardinals in the World Series). Sure enough the reg was out of date from February of 2011. Oops. So, I called for the tow truck, he got there and he started hooking the car up. Now, the police have requested that we PCOs do a fairly thorough inventory of the vehicle we are impounding - outside and in. This is so no one can claim that the tow truck driver put a dent in the thing or that something was stolen from inside. The driver had almost finished when I figured that the vehicle owner was probably in one of the nearby houses and we should perhaps take the thing around the corner and finish up away from the house. Either the owner will appear or a neighbor will think they are helping by emerging, going over and knocking on the owner's door and warning them. This is a big pain to us, naturally.

So, we take the SUV around the corner to be away from prying eyes. We open it. Of course, it had an alarm. Great. What we didn't know was, the owner was in the very office building that we were parked in front of visiting his father. Oops. Now by this time I had looked inside the vehicle and found a small container of pot (which smelled pretty righteous - of course I've only been told that's how it smells) which had a medical marijuana label on it (Chuckle. Yeah, right). So, I had to do my duty and call for an officer to come and take the offending substance away. I did so and just then, the kid comes out and says, what are you guys doing? I mean, what does it LOOK like we're doing? He says, can't we talk about this, can't we do something about this, can't I take care of this now? All the while I'm thinking he really must be nervous about that grass in the center console. I tell him, no, I'm impounding the car. So he gets on his cell and calls his dad in the office building. His dad comes out and starts making gorilla faces and postures, you know, huffing and puffing and all that. Then, I kid you not, he climbs up onto the back of the tow truck just like King Kong and says he's not coming down and we'd better release the vehicle, blah blah, grunt grunt. I'm surprised he didn't start pounding his chest. He was trying to scare both of us but he was not succeeding. By this time, his kid (cut from the same simian cloth) had gone into the car, retrieved the pot and stuffed it down his pants. He takes off across the small side street where two of his buddies are, gives them the dope and they take off down the street.

Well, the cops arrive (and I do mean cops. Three squad cars and a motor officer - the Sarge) and I tell them the whole shot and they do what cops do best - they intimidate the shit out of people (not me, of course). They control the whole situation beautifully. I think they fined the kid for the pot (he admitted he had some in the car, the dummy) and they put the old man on notice to keep it together and let us (me and the tow truck driver) do our jobs. Then the Sarge (thanks, Sarge) says, are you guys done? We say yes and he says, then you can take off. And we do.

For the first time finding drugs in a vehicle (for me anyway. Some of my colleagues have before), the whole thing turned out to be a lot of fun. The only thing I haven't seen yet is a dead body in a car. I'm thinking that would be decidedly not as much fun.


Monday, October 17, 2011

One Way Or Another

I love this song by Blondie. It could almost be our PCO theme song. "One way or another I'm gonna getcha, I'll getcha, I'll getcha getcha getcha getcha....." (Spell checker hates that last line) This song brings up the notion that criminals (and no, I don't think you errant parkers are really criminals but it's a useful term for the purpose of this post) always make some mistake and eventually get caught. As Rod Serling might have said (oooh, I am bringing up the cultural references today, aren't I?), "Case in point":

I marked the two hour zones all down one of the main drags in our little town, and of course came back to pick up those marks a little more than two hours later as I am wont to do (as I'm supposed to do actually). Well sir (or ma'am), sure enough I see a nice big juicy chalk mark on a tire and pull up behind the vehicle to cite it when lo and behold! I notice that the year tab is from 2007! Now, the 07s are the same color as the 12s (Hey DMV! Yeah, I'm talking to you guys! Can't you add a couple more colors to your pallet of year tabs? I mean it. Spend the cash. It would help us out a lot. Thanks. [They won't listen]), so, I get to not only cite it for the expired registration (AND the two hour violation), I figure I'll tow it away too. Four years is a wee bit - just a tad - too long to let it go. Actually you only get 6 months, then we can take it the next day.

The lady came out of the store and when I gave her the bad news, to her credit, she accepted her fate. That's rather unusual but she knew she did wrong. And get this, she started to get it registered in 2009 but never completed the process! I mean, she had two years and then another two years to save up the money! Come on! But, her mistake was not moving her car out of the two hour zone. I might have come by and seen the color of the tab but NOT THE YEAR and driven right on by.

Maybe it is criminal in a way. Not to the city or to the State of California, but to herself.

Where's my Blondie cd?


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Crossing Guard Duty

Hello all,

One aspect of my job that I have yet to mention is when they put us on a corner to fill in for one of the Crossing Guards. You know, those nice folks (mostly elderly, some Hispanic, some... who can figure it out?) who make sure your kiddies get across the street safely at a school. Well, today I had the opportunity to fill in, as one of the female Crossing Guards, as my supervisor put it, "threw up on her corner." Niiiiiice. I suppose I can understand it as we had today what I hope will be the last of the 100 degree days (!!!!!) here in SoCal. It shouldn't be 100 degrees in mid-October, thank you very much. Intelligent Design, my ass. Anyway, I went there expecting to find a pile of puke there, baking and bubbling away in the hot sun (Sorry. I'm truly sorry about that). But, to my relief (and yours I'm sure), there was nothing burning up on the sidewalk but me.

Now, there are some aspects of this assignment that I actually enjoy. I like kids (not that way, you pervert). I enjoy teasing with them and trying to make them laugh. Sometimes, it actually works! For example, if a kid comes by snacking on an ice cream bar, as some did today, I will say to them, "Oooh, ice cream! Did you bring one for me?" When they say no, I tell them it's okay because I already had my lunch and I'm getting too fat anyway. Sometimes I can get a chuckle out of a kid depending on their age. Today a young boy asked me, "Why are you wearing pants?" Well, I was just as shocked as you probably are. But he was young and I sussed out his meaning right away. I thought I'd kid around first though and told him, Well, if I don't wear pants I'll get fired, or go to jail. His mom was laughing. Then I said, you mean how come I'm not wearing shorts because it's hot, right? He nodded. I told him it's none of his damned business why I wasn't wearing shorts and if he wanted to get ahead in life he better not go around asking older men that question. No, I didn't say that. I do actually want to keep my job.... for now.

The other nice thing about doing Crossing Guard duty is looking at the pretty, young mommies (hm, now I am getting pervy, aren't I?) or as they are sometimes called here in InternetLand, MILFs. I won't explain this acronym to you because I suspect that most of you already know what it means. For those who do not however, I'll explain it this way: Mommies I'd Like To Spend The Rest Of My Life With or MILTSTROMLWs. There, that's better. Some times these MILTs, as I call them, will say hi, chat and/or flirt and it's fun. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages (Grannies not allowed though. Let's be civil here, okay?) I don't mean to be sexist about this thing but, I mean, I don't look at the daddies now do I? Wait, this piece was supposed to be about protecting the children from maniacs who shouldn't be driving in the first place, not me fantasizing about elbowing their dads aside and taking his place at the old hearth in the living room. But, what the hell. They don't pay me enough so fantasy has got to be one of the fringe benefits. Right?


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another quick story

The other day I was driving past a gas station and was flagged down by a guy who said a lady's car was on fire. I thought, why is he telling me this? I'm not a fireman, but okay, I do have a radio to the police station.

So, I pull around and into the station and a guy there (a young guy who I used to work with at a previous job, by the way) told me that a couple of them pushed the lady's car away from the pumps and sure enough, it was now blocking the sidewalk so nobody could walk by!

As it turned out, the lady was deaf. When I asked her what had happened, I had to use a combination of charades (which I'm very good at) and writing things on my pad of paper. She was typing responses to me on her phone which was so slow and maddening, that she just grabbed my pad and pen and starting writing furiously.

The car was not burning. What happened was, she had had a repair recently and the mechanic, if you can call him that, used blue tape - yes, blue painter's masking tape! - to wrap some wires together. Well, the tape was resting on a hot part of the engine, and amazingly, it caught fire! She was fine, the car was fine except that she lost the fan that cools the radiator. She told me she thought she could make it home (she lived about 4 miles away), so I had the Desk cancel the cops and the firemen and let her drive off. I hope she made it. I never found out one way or another.

These are the kinds of things that happen when you're out in the street all day. What fun!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Training Day

Well, Training Month actually. I had been tasked for the past few weeks with the training of the newest PCO. So, besides all the usual routine activities, a few unusual things occurred and I will relate them to you now. Please sit down. You may not believe some of this stuff.

1). We found a car with a fake year tab that was so bad, we both spotted it while driving by at 20 miles an hour. We stopped to cite him and tow him (his car registration was two years out of date), he came out of his house, and we had to call a cop to our location. He made the guy sit on the curb and watch us. His story was so stupid, it was all we could do not to laugh.

2). While driving near a liquor store slash market, we noticed a guy who had just opened a beer. The beer was spilling out over the top of the bottle and his pants were falling off exposing his naked buttocks (I may have to start adding pictures to this blog just because of this guy). If that weren't enough, he sat on the hot sidewalk under a sign that essentially called him a clown. We laughed and laughed this time.

3). We saw a guy riding a bicycle while carrying a cup of coffee on his head! It must have been hot because he had his head wrapped in a t-shirt like a turban. Don't know how he managed not to spill any of it.

4). We encountered an older gent driving down the up ramp in one of the parking structures. It was all we could do to convince him he was doing the wrong thing. Sheesh!

5). We found a car in the sweeper zone with a dead pigeon on the hood. The scary part was, the bird had no head! Was it a Mafia-like message for the offender not to park there anymore? Or just some red-tailed hawk's idea of a sick joke. We got out of there quickly.

6). We found a car full of trash (the driver said they were recyclables) that was double parked in the roadway. Let me explain this: the trash was completely stuffing the inside, of course, but it was also on the hood and the trunk. Piled high! The car had no plates but did have a red number from the DMV in the rear window. He had to scatter trash off the trunk and onto the road in order for us to see it. "Are you going to give me a ticket?" Moron.

And finally, 7). We cited a guy's friend who had parked his car across the sidewalk. When the guy came out of his house, he asked us in his accented (and probably learned from the movies) English, "What is duh meaning of dis?" I was so astonished, all I could do was repeat the question back to him (with much better enunciation) "What is the meaning of this?" I was tempted to ask him if he meant his query in a metaphysical sense which would have rendered any answer I could have given completely unsatisfactory in a world as mundane as a PCOs. Instead I just gave him the facts. We laughed about this guy for days.

Well, training is almost over for our newbie. I hope she goes on to have a sterling career. If she can keep a straight face.

Officer X
The Prince of Parking
The Sultan of Spots
The King of the Curb
The Rajah of Red Zones
(You get the idea)


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Verify This!

There are all kinds of signs in our city. Most of them just sit there year in and year out and nobody ever seems to read them. Maybe they take them for granted like they do their spouse (But I digress, and rather well, I think). No, there is another type of sign that now and again makes an appearance. Yes, I'm talking (writing, actually) about the Temporary No Parking signs. You've all seen, I'm sure, those red and white beauties. These allow us to cite you AND to tow you away so read them please, because some of my colleagues live for this.

The local economy must be doing okay because lately The Desk has been sending a lot of us to "verify" that they are indeed there (the signs not the folks who sit at The Desk), and that they are filled out correctly (the folks who sit at The Desk are also pretty filled out but I will not cast aspersions on them. They have a hard job.) So, we copy down all the info we are given and off we zoom (read: slog) to the location or locations. You are lucky if there is only one location and only two, three or four signs. I've been sent to long stretches of road to verify over a hundred signs when there is some big event that needs the parking space there. And don't get me started on the parade route when that comes around!

I realize now that I need one of those clicker counters that people who work the door of various venues have. It would be much easier than trying to count the number out loud - there's so many distractions like the police radio, the radio radio, the people stopping you to ask inane questions, you get the idea.

Then, you have another problem: when The Desk tells you one thing and the signs say another. Or, they are not filled out correctly or completely. Or they are not placed properly on cones, delineaters, sign poles or telephone poles or even trees. No, sometimes the people posting them think it's okay to put them on the wall or the fence of their business, you know, where the parker won't notice them! I actually saw one recently on the handrail of the stairs leading into the building! You might see it if you were inclined to park right there on the sidewalk but otherwise, forget it!

So, sometimes we have to go back and re-verify them when they are corrected. It's such a waste of time. I'd like to quit all this nonsense. Maybe I should take all this as sign.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


The title of this post is NOT about what some of you are thinking about (those of you who troll the Internet looking for salacious material [Hello Anthony, I'm talking to you! Dummy.]). Besides, if it were, there would be an ampersand (&) between the letters. No, a T.A. refers to what the police call a Traffic Accident. The police respond to many of these on a daily basis, this being the Los Angeles area and people are constantly being distracted by a cell phone call, a text, or a pretty girl or guy walking on the sidewalk in a skimpy outfit (okay, that's as salacious as this is going to get). But we Parking types don't really respond to T.A.s unless we need to block a street or help direct traffic around the incident.

The reason I'm writing about this today is, the other day I was the first one on the scene at a pretty bad T.A. that happened right by the police station. Here's what happened: I was heading in to end my work day when I turned up the street and noticed people trying to get my attention and pointing up the street. Usually when people point at me they are using one specific finger, but this time they seemed to be trying to tell me something. I got further up the block and saw just what it was. A car had obviously been t-boned in the intersection and the young lady was still in the vehicle, which was now pulled onto the side street, the one I was on. I pulled over and jumped out of my city vehicle and immediately got on the police radio. I called in and asked them if they had a report on the accident. They said no. I told them about it and that I was checking for injuries. Then I got closer to the girl. She was badly shaken up, had cuts on her face and head, and there was blood.

Now, I like scary movies but not bloody ones. I got a little shaken up myself but I held my composure in order to help her. I asked her if she needed a paramedic. Her answer caught me by surprise. "Do I have to pay for it?" This is what our country has come to folks. I don't mean to get political here but this is telling. I told her, "I wouldn't worry about money right now. Let's worry about your health." I got back on the radio and called for paramedics, I called in the license plates of the two vehicles involved (the cops need this in case one of the parties is wanted), and I called for the tow company the city uses to clean up the intersection of all the debris (glass, metal and plastic that other cars were now driving over).

I tried to keep the young lady calm while she called her father and told him, through sobs and tears, about the accident. Her boyfriend, who was unharmed, then told me what had happened: they had swung wide in the intersection to make a u-turn and the pick-up behind them kept coming (obviously at a pretty good clip) and smashed into them. Then he asked me if it was illegal to make the u-turn there. It wasn't but one of our motorcycle officer told him that all parties in that situation have the responsibility to be safe about it. The other driver, the one with the large pick-up, was unharmed as well. The cops were speaking with him. The paramedics and a firetruck arrived, the tow truck was there and the tow truck driver was out sweeping up. The intersection got jammed with cars and the sidewalk with on-lookers. It was a mess. One of the officers directed traffic and they told me I could go, without so much as a thanks or a "good job." As I said, it's routine for the officers but not for us. Certainly not for me. And blood does bother me, mine or other people's. But, it all goes with the job.

I am part of what they call the "First Responders." I like it better when they say "Everyday Heroes." I don't ever feel heroic on my job, believe me, but that day, I kinda did.


Monday, May 30, 2011

What I really want to do is....

Anyone who lives in the Los Angeles area and has any connection at all with Show Biz will know how the title of this blog entry would finish. Now, I came out here to be an actor, a writer, a director and I have had some success in all three of those areas. But working as a Parking Control Officer has also given me the opportunity to direct. To direct traffic.

Recently we had two (count 'em two!) High School graduations (I have capitalized High School so you wouldn't think I was saying the schools were high in the hills or the students were high in the classrooms. Although this is the Los Angeles area and anything is possible, I suppose). And you know what High School graduations mean. Yep, that's right. Bad driving. Not only by students mind you, but also by parents, grandparents, siblings, friends. All those people who are told the graduation starts at 6PM and who show up at 7:30PM asking where to park in an extremely crowded area. Sigh. Well, it's hard to complain about the ingress. But the egress! Please, get me started.

As the cars arrive for the festivities, they arrive in a staggered way (and no, I'm not talking about high students again). So, parking them is relatively easy. But of course, when the graduation is over, all the cars want to leave at the same time. This is commonly referred to by the police as a "cluster fuck." For those of you with delicate sensibilities let me apologize for the use of that word. Just understand it's not MY word but the word used by the police. Trust me, MY word is much worse.

So, here I am in the semi-gloom of a darkening sky trying to direct traffic at what is essentially a four-way intersection with one of the intersecting roads being blocked in such a way as to make it a one-way only. And wouldn't you know it? That's the most convenient way out! So of course everyone wants to go that way! Did you ever see anyone make a u-turn on a road that was closed off in one direction? I have. And I'm still amazed at myself for not throwing my shoes at those drivers. But I was standing on a hill so if I had done that it would have been even more difficult on my balance and my arches.

Add to all this the fact that there were other things going on in the area and you can imagine the chaos (some call it fun). Actually, truth be told, directing traffic IS kind of fun. Unless you've done it yourself, you can't imagine the feeling of power it gives you. The power to decide who gets to go and who must stop. The power to make the driver stop even though he or she wants to go soooo badly (and most of them do go badly, trust me). This sounds like the ultimate in ego-tripping and yeah, I guess it is. It's intense but it's kind of a thrill.

I'm sick, aren't I? Well, I really would rather direct films. Pass the Epsom salts. I'm going to soak my feet.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Welcome Back

For various reasons I will not go into, I was off work for a little while. No, it had nothing to do with the last post. I'm suspecting that not many people read it in the first place. No, I was off work for a couple of weeks and on my first day back, with the very first ticket I wrote, the guy comes out of his house and gives me the finger (you know which one) and curses me out (oh, the redundancy of it all) using the same words that this particular finger indicated. He argued with me about the ticket, I told him to go argue with the clerk in the station, and I drove away.

Later on, another person told me in no uncertain terms that I was a bad person (if he only knew!) and what I should go do to myself. I don't think so.

Oy. So much for any relaxation I may have gotten from being off.

Welcome back.


(I can't wait to write EOW which means End Of Watch which means I'm through with this fahcacktah job. I can dream.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You Gotta Be So Careful

I heard the above phrase many times as I was preparing to write this particular blog entry. I promised you earlier that I was going to let you in on a little behind the scenes doings by writing about some of my colleagues. Now, that time has come. Let me say, that I will not be writing about any of the police. They carry guns. The most us PCOs get is pepper spray and I think I have the perfect defense for that stuff. It involves staring behind the person with the spray can, saying "What's that?" and then running like hell the other way. Foolproof.

Now, the other reason I must be careful is that, while I'm not in love with my job, I do enjoy being able to pay all my bills and have a little left over for the occasional chocolate bar. I don't want to lose this sucka now. Okay, so here goes: I will tell you about three of my fellow ticket-writers by giving them aliases.

1. Eeeyore - This guy is so miserable that listening to him on the radio is at times painful. When he's given a call by the communications center, his response is classic. Teeeenn-foooooourrrrr. Just like Pooh's jackass friend. Everything seems a burden to this guy and sometimes I feel bad for him (nah, now that I think about him, he deserves whatever he gets). The guy's stated goal is to make everyone else around him miserable too, and you know?, he does a pretty good job of that.

2. Zelda the Over-Zealous - She is obsessive. She MUST GET EVERYONE! She'll mark the tires on the same cars on the same block sixteen times a day just to keep her meds from wearing off. She would ticket her own grandmother for stopping in a red zone for two seconds to throw up out the window. She is also the impound queen. She'll impound your car just for the pure pleasure she gets from filling out the form. If your car is out of registration six months and one day, look out. She'll take it. We're all just lucky she doesn't have access to one of those car crushers. Oh, is this your cube?

3. I saved the worst for last. Baby Huey - This guy is big, fat, bald and a little baby. He is a classic bully who'll suck up to the higher-ups and look down on those below him in seniority. A real animal. He hates himself so much that he in turn hates everyone else. Mean just doesn't begin to describe this creep. He actually takes delight in intimidating people. He tried to do it to me when I was a newbie. I didn't take the bait and he hasn't spoken to me since (eight years!). This guy is well-known around town. Generally the comments we get are in the vein of "What's wrong with that fat guy?" or "Man, he's a douche." Now, I'm no psychologist but if I was, I would have warned the city that hiring this guy was a biiiiiggggg mistake. It's just not fair to repulse the citizens AND your co-workers. Did I mention he's fat? Real fat. And bald. And ugly (although that's a judgment call, I suppose, considering he dating Zelda!). When I think of the two of them together, all I can think of is The Rolling Thunder Tour (she's heavy too, you see). By the way, office romances are frowned upon by the department. This romance would be frowned upon by anyone with eyes!!!

Am I being unduly harsh? You don't know the half of it.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


A disturbing occurrence today. I was driving down the street looking for a car that had been marked (chalk on the tires) for a 72 hour complaint. I couldn't find it (the guy must have moved it) but I did find the guy who owns it. He was getting into his piece of junk small motor home (it's more like one of those house cars). He started the thing up, fouling the neighborhood with the stench of his engine fumes, when he spotted me. He rolled the smelly wreck up to where I was and starting berating me for marking only his cars and not all the other ones on the street. He said, "You only mark the Spanish ones." I was incensed. We don't do that kind of thing. We've been accused of this kind of prejudice before but we honestly don't care about the color of the owner, just the color of the vehicle. I got angry and told him that we don't operate that way and that it was an unfair accusation. He made noises of one kind and another about the other cars on the block. I told him if he had a complaint to call it in to the station. Then I drove off.

People who can't take responsibility sometimes resort to this tactic but it's lame. We really couldn't give a damn what a person is like on the outside. As long as they follow the rules and behave in a socially acceptable way (at least when it comes to parking), we are completely colorblind and neutral. I know some people have a victim mentality but this guy was just mad because he always leaves his few vehicles on the street for days at a time and never moves them. So we end up having to mark them again and again because he just doesn't get it. Some of his cars are eyesores and his neighbors complain about them. What can we do?

For him to pull the race card was simply a disgrace. That's not how we do things. We've all learned that knuckleheads come in all colors.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Lemming Effect

Hi everyone,

Don't you remember when your mother told you this: "If your friend jumped off a building, would you do it too?" She was trying to warn you that following the crowd was sometimes not a wise thing to do. This morning I saw a perfect example of why this is true.

I was doing the 8AM to 10AM street sweeper route. I turned a corner onto a rather busy street in our little burg and to my astonishment the whole block was full of parked cars. Full!

Holy Smoke!, I exclaimed (okay, actually I exclaimed something different but hey, I never know who may be reading this). There were at least seven cars there in the sweeper zone. I got out and started writing tickets furiously. I'm sure if anyone had come out and seen me, they would have been furious too.

Now, the reason there were so many cars there was what I call The Lemming Effect. If one goes over the cliff, they all do. (I have since come to find out that lemmings don't really do this, but for my purposes I'll use it because I like it and it's my blog). When one car parks somewhere, even illegally, people just assume that because that person parked here it must be okay. HA! I'll say it again. HA! No need to actually read the sign, there are cars here. It must be okay. HA! What they didn't know was that one of those vehicles was disabled (it had a note saying it had a dead battery. A word about this: we don't always believe the notes but we are obliged to honor them because, who knows?, it may be true and we wouldn't want to cite a vehicle that actually can't move. Vehicles do stop working now and again. For proof you only have to look at my old car, if you can find it. I've stopped looking).

So, I wrote five tickets in that spot this morning. I didn't cite the disabled car and one guy came out and I let him go because he was just making a quick delivery to the medical center across the street. Wait, there was a medical center across the street? You didn't say that! Well, yes. This is also one reason why there were so many cars on that side of the street. The parking over there is abysmal. And the drivers don't want to pay the five to seven bucks for the parking structure. Instead, they park illegally and have to shell out forty bucks. Oh, Brother.

Lemmings may just have more intelligence than people after all.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Beats

Hello Citizens,

I realized I never talked about what happens when we are assigned two (or sometimes more [gasp!]) beats to patrol. Let me tell you, it ain't pretty.

First, a beat consists of a specific area of our little hamlet. There are six beats overall here and that's enough. Really there are seven if you count our small downtown area. This has been carved into another beat because, well, lots of people park there. I pity the guy who must patrol this beat all the time because, while any of the beats can become downright boring after a month's time (we rotate after that), the downtown area can become simply unbearable after a week or two. There's just not that much there. Of course the shop owners and the regulars get to know the downtown beat person pretty well, and we get to know them. I think it's harder on us. The shop owners think they can park in front of their place of business all day. Of course they can't, but why would they want to? Don't they want their customers to have a convenient place to park to patronize their business? I don't get it. Unless they think that they work so hard that they are entitled to a little laziness. Costly laziness though.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Two beats. Usually when you have two beats, doing a lot of marking of tires is out of the question. Why? Well, usually when you respond to a request for service or a Desk Call, as we say, they are invariably in the other beat - not the one you are in at the time. Then, you can be sure that the next desk call will be all the way on the other side of the beat you just left. It really taxes your vehicle and your nerves. You just can't get anything else done! This morning for example, I had two beats. I had the other beat's eight o'clock sweeper zone to patrol, we had a roll call at nine-thirty back at the station which I would barely be in time for, then I had my regular ten o'clock sweeper route to do. So, what happens? The Desk gives me a call to do "after your eight o'clocks" all the way on the other side of town (Damn you, Murphy and your law anyway!). Now, there were three other PCOs out there in the field who had nothing to do in the morning. Do any of them "buy" the call for me? Of course not. Those lazy bastards. I called the supervisor and asked her if she would have one of the others do the call for me. She did and I was happy. Still pissed off, but happy (This is simply a taste of what's coming when I write fully about my colleagues. It's coming, I promise).

Having two beats is a royal pain. But, it beats having no beats. Anyway, I prefer beets.

And beers.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Letting people go

I must relate this occurrence while it is still fresh, although fresh is a bad word to use because it completely stinks. I marked a green zone today which allows for ten minute parking. We give about fifteen. So because I was busy, I came back about a half hour later. I figured the zone would be clear. To my surprise, there was a vehicle still there and still marked. I pulled to the curb and got out, prepared to write the ticket. Of course the guy came out of the business. He gets into the car and as he does so I tell him that green zones are for ten minute parking only. He says nothing except "Okay". Then he asks me "Are you going to give me a ticket?"

I don't know what possessed me, but I decided to give the guy a break although he was already rubbing my rectum the wrong way. So I said, "No, sir, but please be more careful in the future." Does he say thank you? No. He is a selfish moron. As he drives past me he points to the vehicle that was in front of his (which is about one third into the green zone - it's ticket-able but kind of on the edge, you know?) and says "That guy's been here fifteen minutes."

Oh, how I wish I could have said one of a thousand things I was thinking. What I did say was, "I'm monitoring it, sir." I couldn't help but hear the venom in my voice.

Well, this putz drives away and what drives me crazy is: why in the world didn't I cite this guy? He certainly deserved it and he knew it! It's unexplainable even to myself.

All this does, at times, is make me be harder on the next person which I hate to do. I'm telling you, controlling myself is the hardest part.

Okay. Deep breath. I let him go and now I have to let this go.

Beer? You betcha!


Monday, January 10, 2011


Happy New Year, citizens. At least, I hope it's going to be happy.

Some things have changed (some, unfortunately have not). Firstly, one of my colleagues passed away from that old devil, cancer. We were almost exactly the same age. She was a trusted friend and ally in a sometimes contentious job world. I miss her terribly. We would have lunch together and vent about all kinds of things: the job, our fellow PCOs, the bad-parking public, and just our lives (and loves) in general. She had a boisterous laugh and that is what I'll remember, and miss, about her most.

The other thing that has changed is my schedule. This is not unusual in police work, but I'm not a policeman. We are civilians who work for the police department. Anyway, I now have to work an hour later into the evening and it sucks. On the bright side, I have every Wednesday off. Which sucks for making travel plans. On the bright side, I can take a Tuesday off after a major or minor Monday holiday (Hello? [cough, cough] I'm not feeling well today), and have five days off in a row. Which sucks because I have to burn an hour of accrued time in order to get the tenth hour off on the minor holiday - um, never mind. If I try to explain it all to you, you'll get a headache - mine. Bookkeeping was never my strength and when it involves Time, it's even more confusing. With Time, first you earn then you burn. Hm, sounds like a life-lesson.

In any case, it all takes some adjusting. I hate adjusting. But, humans are nothing if not adaptable and believe it or not, us parking control types ARE human.

We wear a blue uniform shirt and I can tell you, so far this year, some of the blue has seeped through to my soul. Oh well. Bad rehearsal, good performance, right? Let's see how the rest of the year goes from here.