Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let's talk about parking tickets, shall we?

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?