Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let's talk about parking tickets, shall we?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Taste of My Own Medicine

Well, it has finally happened. Today I got a parking ticket! Here’s what happened:

My wife and I went to have lunch in the beautiful and always crowded beach town that I will call Santa Moronica. We parked at a dreaded parking meter. I used my credit card to pay (my how far we’ve come. No more fishing for coins out of my over-laden pockets). The meter would only take one pass of the card and gave us fifty-three minutes to walk to a restaurant, use the rest rooms, order, eat, pay and leave a tip. Fortunately we didn’t have time for that last item.

We couldn’t understand the behavior of the meter. Neither did the lovely couple parked in front of us. We looked at the two signs posted on the stubby pole (nowhere near the North Pole for your information), and we all felt confused. The bottom one said that we had two hour parking there from 10AM to 2PM Daily. But the meter only gave us less than an hour. Maybe the uppermost sign would explain everything. We examined it. Nope. It said that the area would be a No Stopping/Tow Away zone daily (!) except for the restriction posted below. To quote the kids today, WTF?

Both we and the other couple spotted a motorcycle cop riding by. They flagged him down (he wouldn’t stop for me, the jerk) and we asked him why the meter would not take any more of our hard-earned money. He grunted: “It stops at two.” He meant 2PM, the Neanderthal. But he didn’t explain to us what would happen AFTER 2PM, the jaded doofus.

So, off we went to eat. I don’t know where the other couple went as we didn’t promise to keep in touch. We returned to the car with five minutes to spare. Whew! However, my wife wanted to go into the camping supply store across the street. We only needed one thing and it wouldn’t take long, which turned out to be true.

As we came out of the store, we saw a police car, overhead lights on, stopped behind my car. I ran over. The parking control officer didn’t care that I worked at the same job, although in a much nicer and more considerate city with much less confusing signage, and would not entertain taking the ticket back. In fact, she wasn’t entertaining at all.

Now I ask you, why would any city place such a bizarre restriction on parking in a shopping district on a Sunday!!! It makes no sense. But you must know that Santa Moronica is not a friendly town. Parking there is a nightmare, as everyone will tell you whether they have been ticketed or not. I have determined not to ever spend any money there again. But, sadly I must say that like every resolution around this time of year, I’m sure I will have to break this one at some point too.

But now I sure know how the rest of you feel when I ticket you. Sorry.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two of a kind

Hello Citizens,

I'm a poker player. I enjoy it. But there is only one thing, one sure thing, that I would bet on. That is, that someone who I catch doing something wrong will blame someone else or feel their misbehavior is somehow justified. Two days, two impounds, two cases in point.

Case 1: Yesterday I caught a pickup truck in the 8 o'clock sweeper zone. The vehicle came up as towable in my cite writer. That means it had five or more unpaid tickets (not necessarily parking tickets). The windows were down so I knew the person was around somewhere and would probably come out as we (I called a colleague over on my radio to assist) were trying to get the vehicle impounded. Sure enough, out he came and immediately started in on us. He knew he owed about fifteen hundred dollars in tickets (really!?!), and so he did. He complained about this and that and then he said something really dumb. He thought that since he'd never be able to get his car out of the impound yard (probably not) and the city was going to sell it, that they should take the fifteen hundred they'd get for it (probably not) and put that money towards his tickets! My colleague and I shook our heads in complete disbelief. There are many things wrong with this ass-ertion. First, the city doesn't auction off the cars, the impound yard does so, they would get the money not the city. Second, I don't think that they or the city would then be interested in paying off the tickets of this bozo who racked them up in the first place. Amazing. We laughed about this one over lunch later on.
Case 2: Today I called for another impound, this time the owners only owed $640 or so in late ticket fees. (Why, oh why don't they just pay them as they get them?) Again the windows were down (it's been hot here), so again I called a colleague over (a different one this time) and we waited for the tow truck to arrive. Anyway, the young lady came out of the house seemingly resigned to the fact that we were going to take the car. She called her husband who, she said, was to blame for all this (Of course! I'm married too. I understand.) and he gave her some bad advice which fortunately she didn't follow (Drive away! Drive away! She couldn't. She had two youngsters in the house). So, she looked at me and said, "Well, it must be God's Will." God's Will? Did He not pay your tickets? Really? Really?!? Then if it's God's Will, hey, I must be a Messenger of God which, if I'm understanding all this kind of stuff correctly, makes me an Angel. Ha! I've been called a lot of things on this job but never an Angel. I wonder if I can get one of those Angel stickers to put in my city vehicle window. Here I come, straight from God! So pay your goddamn tickets! Okay?

Some of them still won't. You can bet on that.

And I bid you all a heavenly ten-seven.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

People people people

Okay, well just one guy really. But he is indicative of the people people people of the title of this post.

Here's what happened. I am doing my 10 o'clock sweeper route (sweeper truck goes by, cleans the street, we come along and cite those who haven't moved their vehicles. Very simple). It's a quarter past 10 and I get out of my city vehicle to cite a pickup truck that the sweeper just went around. You could still see the big wet arc it made on the street around the pickup. I'm writing the ticket on my electronic cite writer when a young guy, maybe around 20 years old, comes out of this house wearing just a bathrobe. The following is an approximation of what was said:

HIM: Are you going to write me a ticket?
ME: Yep.
HIM: Oh come on. I'm ten minutes late. My alarm didn't go off. Really?
ME: You're fifteen minutes late and the sweeper went around you.
HIM: I'm going to call the newspapers. I'm sure they'd love this story. Guy gives guy a ticket who didn't make it out of bed on time. (Did he actually think I'd be intimidated by this?)
ME: You're going to call the newspaper to tell them how irresponsible you were? I don't think they'll go for it. Look sir, you're past the time on the sign and the sweeper went around you.
HIM: Look at me! (At this point he opens his bathrobe. I quickly turn away but not before noticing that he is indeed wearing shorts. Thank heaven) I just woke up!
ME: Sorry sir. (I start walking back toward my vehicle)
HIM: Well, have fun killing puppies today.

Now, when he said this I had to laugh. Out loud. It's a good thing I wasn't facing him or I would have laughed right in his face.

ME: It's not like that, sir. Why, I haven't killed a puppy in years. (I didn't really say that last part but I sure wanted to)

Now I'm back in my vehicle and I watch as he takes the keys out of his robe pocket (I guess he sleeps with them in there) and move the pickup across the street. I'm off to my next violator, laughing the whole way. I mean, to equate what I do with puppy-killing is pretty out there. It's just another example of a person who can't take responsibility for their own actions or the lack thereof. People people people.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tricks and Tips

Many times a person will resort to chicanery to try to fool us. After all who wants to get a ticket if they can avoid it by whatever means necessary? Some of the ways people attempt to fake us out will be discussed here. But rest assured we’re on to all of these methods.

1) Rolling the tires. Marking a tire let's us know whether you have moved your vehicle before the allotted time on the sign expires (10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours! This is getting ridiculous!). If you wipe the mark off, that’s a big no-no for which, if you are caught, you’ll have to go to court. If you roll your car forward or backward to conceal the mark, we will see it. We will crawl on all fours if we have to to find that damned mark. Then again, sometimes we mark the tires in a different way. And no, I’m not telling you what that way is. Nyah

2) Leaving an old ticket envelope on the windshield. Some people think that if they leave the envelope on their windshield from the ticket they got last week that we are so lazy we won’t get out of our vehicles to check. Well, some of my colleagues might not – they ARE incredibly lazy – but I will! If the ticket looks faded, dirty, wrinkled, wet or any other way that makes it appear not so fresh (you know the feeling, don’t you?), we will look to see if you are trying to scam us. Recently, I opened an envelope only to find not a ticket in there but an old, blackened banana peel. How bizarre, I thought. Perhaps the person was trying to cultivate a large, black cloud of fruit flies that would attack me the minute I disturbed their resting place. Who knows? It didn’t work by the way. I gave them a new ticket. How I chuckled.

3) Notes. People will leave us notes of varying types: “Car won’t start,” “Battery Dead,” “Can’t move it – tow truck coming today.” Or simply “Please don’t ticket” P-shaw. We know you are either too lazy to get up and move it or you were too lazy (or drunk) last night to try and find a better spot that wasn’t in the sweeper zone. Maybe you’re off visiting Grandma in another state (and frankly, I don’t care what state your grandmother is in). When several vehicles mysteriously have dead batteries on the same street on sweeper day, we get awfully suspicious. It’s worse than being back in elementary school. “Little Johnny can’t move his car today. He’s sick. Signed Little Johnny’s Mother.”

If only I had a portable car crusher….


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Being Outed

Greetings fellow citizens! Happy New Year and all that. I know it's February already but I've been a lazy correspondent of late. You're probably wondering what I mean by the title of this piece. It's not what you're thinking. I wanted to talk a little bit about being outside all day. I don't like it.

Outside you are constantly at the whims of Mother Nature (and we know how she can be). Some days it's too hot, some it's too cold. I like "conditioned" air, a roof over my head when it rains, being sheltered from high winds, away from the dangerous UV rays of the sun, etc. I like being able to get up from my desk, stretch my legs and walk over to the snack machine (damn, there's NEVER anything good in this thing. On top of that, some of the bad things you're trying to buy get stuck and don't fall. But I digress). I've worked in many office settings and a Jeep Wrangler is a poor substitute for an office, I can tell you. For one thing, it's cramped. I've been more comfortable stuffed into the seats of some carnival rides. You feel every bump in the road in those things too (I mean the Jeep). I swear sometimes it feels like you know when you've gone over a painted line! The sight lines are terrible too (It doesn't help that we are driving on the "wrong" side of the vehicle - the better way to mark tires - well, no, it's the ONLY way). And speaking of marking tires, just try to hang your arm out the window of one of these monsters and reach all the way down to a cars tires. Not easy, I assure you and I have the bruises to prove it. Not to mention being choked by the shoulder belt. I thought those things are in there to help!

Anyway, you also run into (not literally with the Jeep) all kinds of people you'd rather not see. With the evil people you can understand why we don't want to see them, but even the nice people who just want to chat or ask us a question, all they do is stop our progress. We're like Greta Garbo. We vant to be alone. (For those of you under 50 who are reading this, you might have to Google her). And then the Desk will send us somewhere just as we're getting somewhere else to do something else - take your pick: lunch, bathroom break, pick up the marks we put down, goof off, etc. No, I really don't like being outside all day.

On the other hand though, there are some nice things about it. We drive around the city unsupervised all day which means if I have to stop in at the post office (you remember what THAT is, right?) and buy some stamps, I can do so. I can also go to my favorite frozen yogurt place (I'd mention their name but only if they'll throw some money my way for the plug), or drop in on the local pharmacy and pick my meds (this job, I tell ya, makes me need more and more meds).

In addition to that, for the last few days, I've seen the large flock of wild parrots that nests around town. They are noisy as hell but it's quite a sight to see the whole flock flying around. They're a beautiful green. In fact they look like flying pistachio nuts, if nuts had wings. (Here, I'd like to put in a word for a documentary called "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." If you haven't seen this film, you're in for a treat. Rent it today. What are you waiting for?) You also see some other beautiful sights. A few months back we had a hell of a rain storm and there was a gigantic double rainbow in the sky afterwards. Makes you feel like a kid just looking at it. And something else that makes you feel darned good is seeing all the pretty girls. This place being close to Los Angeles means there are lots of beautiful women out there who are or want to be actresses. No complaints about them, even the ones who park badly! There are local merchants who treat us kindly by giving us discounts at their places of business too (man, I'm craving that frozen yogurt right about now).

So, in all I guess it's just like everything else. There is a balance to it. Some bad stuff and some good. You never know how your day is going to be. Block off a street for several hours because of a fire or flirt with the girl in the yogurt store? Hm. I wonder if they still have the key lime sorbet?