Monday, May 18, 2009

Higher education in the Peoples Republic of Berkeley?

This past Friday was a beautiful day. The weather was a little on the warm side to be wearing wool riding breeches, motor boots, you know the typical motor garb. But hey, I'm not complaining. I love working in beautiful weather.

The day was nice. I had the opportunity to "meet" numerous drivers, all of which were not happy to meet me. We motor guys have an "eye" for things. We can be riding around minding our own business (at least we like you to think we are) and it doesn't matter how fast we're traveling down a city street. WE SEE THINGS! Things like vehicle code violations, such as talking on you cellular phone in a non hands free mode, or not wearing your seat belt, unsafe turns, etc. etc.

I was stopped in a left turn pocket of one of our city roadways. This idiot slows to a stop in the lane to my right slightly ahead of me and I can see through his windows that his seat belt was not being worn. I pulled behind him and sure enough, that bright shiny buckle was dangling from the B-pillar of his car.

I turn on my emergency lights and give a short blast of the siren and motion for the driver to make a right at the intersection. As we're pulling in I watch the driver put his seat belt on, I guess hoping I wouldn't see it.

Our conversation went something like this;

Me: Good afternoon, may I get your license registration and insurance card.
Idiot: Is there a problem Officer, why are you stopping me?
Me: I noticed as you stopped by me you didn't have your seat belt on.
Idiot: But it is on. I think you're mistaken Officer.
Me: It wasn't on when you slowed to a stop near me.
Idiot: But I have it on. (notice he never used past tense)
Me: I need that information from you, you know driver license, registration and insurance.
Idiot: My wallet was stolen yesterday and I don't have it.

So I get his information verbally and ask if there are any past tickets or addresses he lived at to try and verify he's giving me his true name as people never lie to the police.

He shows me a bank debit card with the name he provided me. I told him I was going to issue a citation for the seat belt violation. He told me he was a college student and didn't have a lot of money. When I told him I'd be right back, he tried another excuse of just being headed to the gym for a quick workout... I didn't quite get how that one is supposed to get you out of a ticket. His final one was his brother was graduating. Woo Hoo! Well hell, why didn't you say so? Never mind then, you can go happily on your way then..... bullshit. You're going to get a ticket pal.

I walk back to my motor and begin to scratch out a rag. I heard the driver yell several expletives as I watched him punch the interior of his car. I continued to write his ticket as I would look up quite frequently and noticed his car was shaking from all of his motion. Then he starts blasting on the horn which pretty much drown out his expletives.

This type of behavior really makes me want to make sure that my printing on the citation is SUPER LEGIBLE, you know that really clean, architectural type printing that you sure don't rush.

So I get the rest of his driver license information like the DL number, physical description and any history of violations from the dispatcher. I walked back up to the driver door and explain that his signature is not an admission of guilt, etc. etc. I lay my ticket book on the door and hand him my pen.

Idiot scratches an "X" in the signature box. Then the following dialog occurred.

Me: Is that how your signature appears on your driver license?
Idiot: Yeah.

Well because Idiot didn't have any type of formal I.D. on him I always take a right thumb print as Cal. DMV has right thumb prints on file of all licensed drivers in the golden state.

Me: I need your right thumb (as I open up my small ink pad).
Idiot: I don't think you can do that, I know my rights.
Me: You may know your rights, but I need your right thumb print because you don't have any formal picture I.D.
Idiot: I know my rights, I don't have to give you my thumb.
Me: You know your right, step out of the car because your under arrest.
Idiot: WHAT?!
Idiot: Okay, Okay, I'll give you my thumb. (hands his left thumb to me)

So I get Idiot's right thumb and hand him his copy of the ticket as he says in a very condescending tone, "Thanks for doing your job officer."

Me: Why thank you and you're welcome. Oh by the way, what college do you go to?
Idiot: Berkeley
Me: That explains it.
Idiot: Explains what?
Me: Most people your age, especially those attending higher educational institutions know how to spell and write their names. Oh and most kids in kindergarten know their left from the right too.
Idiot: Thanks again officer (again in a condescending tone).
Me: No problem, oh I forgot to tell you. You have additional violations of not having your driver license with you, unnecessary use of the horn and not having a current insurance card with you.

Don't play me for stupid when I witness a violation. If I'm only 99% sure that I witnessed a violation, tie goes to the runner and I'm not going to waste your time and especially mine by stopping you to give you a warning. I only stop those violations that I'm absolutely 100% sure occurred.

Once again, attitude is everything. You play nice, I can play nice. You wanna be an ass, I'll be a bigger ass. I hope Idiot learned an important lesson here..... Power of the pen Baby!


  1. Ah, the Great American Public.

    But he DID forget to point out that he was a taxpayer and pays your salary yadayadayada. I used to keep two nice shiny pennies in my left pocket for those morons (they were inevitably showing off for their wives/girlfriends/ daughters/daughter's friends). Drop the pennies on the lap -- with a suitable comment about the taxpayer's generosity -- and watch the little bassard shrivel.

  2. So, his wallet was stolen, but he happened to have his debit card. Convenient. I loved the "your other right" part. I'm still surprised how many people truly don't know one from the other. I bet if you had looked, his shoes probably weren't tied either.

  3. I will never forget the time, many, many years ago, when I was pulled over for speeding. (40 in a 30mph zone). I was terrified! I had my daughter and my two nephews in the back seat and when the officer came up to my car to speak with me, I apologized before he even said a word. I gave him my license and registration when he asked for it and I admitted that I hadn't been paying attention to my speed. He was very nice; taking time to talk with the kids and asking us where we were headed. He handed back my paperwork along with a written warning. I was so grateful that it wasn't a speeding ticket. It was that encounter with the police that changed my whole attitude and encouraged me to pursue my current career.