Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Me & Cops

I've had a lot of trouble with the Law over the last few months. E and I each got speeding tickets from heartless LA cops in the days immediately following the evacuation (E's got dropped thanks to some fancy cronyism working in her favor, and they rejected my payment because it wasn't a cashier's check; I recently got a "final notice" about that. Pricks). Then we got busted (see "Busted" post) for nothing in MS a while back. Now last Friday I got a ticket for "Failure to obey signal" on the way to the bar. I'm fighting this one.

Here's the deal: I was driving S. on Carrollton approaching Earhart, and traffic is awful. Getting closer, I could see the lights that explained the drama. It's a 3-lane road (each way), and in the far left (inside) lane, a car is being hooked up to a wrecker. Not sure if it was a wreck, out of gas, or what, but there's also a police car blocking the middle lane and part of the other two lanes by parking perpendicular to traffic. Lights were on, and my honest conclusion was that they were just making sure no one hit the car being towed. The traffic was diverging in both directions to take alternate routes, but as I got close, I saw that there was plenty of room to go around the cop on the right, not endangering the towee, and not hitting the cops. So I slowly proceeded in front of the cops, and they saw me, pointed angrily, and I stopped.

Now let me say that I'm not one of those people who hates cops. I'm glad they're here, I'm generally respectful to them, give them the benefit of the doubt in ambiguous cases, marvel at their ability to keep their cool during Mardi Gras, and sympathize with the fact that most of them are committed to doing the right thing under trying circumstances and for very poor pay.

However... These guys were assholes. The one who pointed gets out and says, "license, insurance, and registration." I got them out, and he said angrily, "Don't you see us sitting here?" Well, sitting was the operative word, since they sure weren't out directing traffic or doing anything useful, just relaxing with a smoke in the car. I said yeah, of course I saw them, but they didn't need to block three lanes of traffic for a car to get towed. His verbatim response: "The hell I don't." So they took my info, gave me the ticket (and at least one other car they were working on when I pulled up), and meanwhile about 25 cars go around behind them, ignored.

Several things about this incident got under my skin. One was the general attitude of the cop I interacted with. I realize that it's irrelevant, but he was the stereotypical pasty fat jerk who apparently relished the fact that he had me in a spot. The smoking further bugged me, partly because I find smoking repulsive, and under the circumstances, I started thinking about how I resented his being out of shape, smoking in the car I paid for, etc.

A little irrational, but when I'm mad, my mind wanders into such concerns.

The clincher was that they left right when I did, and when we were stuck at the light at Claiborne, the guy throws his cigarette but on the ground. I know this is a minor thing to most people, but c'mon. It's still illegal, it's littering, and it's my street. Still, nothing I could do except stew and drink it over. Which I did. Excessively.

So I'm going to contest in hopes that a) the cops won't show up and they drop the ticket, b) if they do show up, I can point out what a prick this guy was, or c) I can convince the judge (or whoever handles such things) that this was an unnecessary waste of time, as I was looking to them to see if it was ok (I easily could have backed away), they weren't directing traffic away from the scene, and, as I said, it wasn't necessary to block 3 lanes of traffic for a tow truck.

Probably won't work, but I have to state my case. Grrr. Now I have to get pissed off all over again when I go in there. As if there isn't enough to be pissed about these days....