Okay, I’ll say it. Professional courtesy has a place in this industry. Throw in the fact that I’m a retired Firefighter’s kid, odds are cops and firefighters get more warnings than cites from me. But here’s the thing, two things, actually, 1)Don’t be a dick and 2)Don’t do something you should damn well know better than to do.
If you violate rule #1, I will cite you. I don’t care who you are (or who you think you are). If you have some sort of holier-than-thou, we-both-know-you-aren’t-gonna-cite-me, I’m-entitled-to-a-break, attitude? Guess what, Sally? You’re getting a fucking ticket. And now you know why.
To be fair, I rarely run into rule #1 violators. I can literally count them on one hand. #2, on the other hand, happened just this week….please to enjoy…
I was in front of a pickup truck (clue #1…the truck) at a stop sign when I saw the driver put his left hand out the window. The left hand held a cigarette. The thumb flicked the butt and ash fell from the cigarette. One of my pet peeves. A lot of people misconstrue the violation (CVC 23111), but let me assure you, flicking your ash out the window is the same thing as straight throwing your butt out the window. It’s a lit substance. Lit substances have the ability to start other shit on fire. Fire bad. Fire destroy property and, quite possibly, life.
Anytime I see someone flicking ash out their window, they get a ticket. Oh, and it ain’t cheap. I don’t have a specific number, but it’s in the $500 range. This is my mindset when I light this guy up. I contacted him and he handed me his CDL and, what’s this?, his Fire Dept. ID. Are you fucking kidding me? The ID (I won’t identify the department) identified him as a Captain. A Captain?!?! What the fuck? I asked him if he knew why I stopped him. His response, “Yeah, I didn’t have my seatbelt on.”
**Remember that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ferris realizes the schmucks at the parking garage took that sweet car out for a joyride? Remember Cameron’s reaction? Yeah, that’s the one. In my head, I did the same thing.**
MC: Wait. Let me get this straight. You didn’t have your seatbelt on?
Capt: That’s right.
MC: *sigh* I stopped you because you’re ashing out your window. Shit, Cap, you should know better.
Capt (shakes his head): Yeah, I know.
Now it’s decision time. I’m struggling with my inner Motor and my inner Firekid. Motor says, “Cite this mother fucker. He damn well knew better.” Firekid says, “Hey man, cut him a break, he’s a firefighter, just like your Dad.” ARGH!!!
In the end, I decided on a compromise. I warned him for the ash and cited him for the seatbelt. My rationalization was that I’m still penalizing him and the seatbelt (at this time of year) was more of an inherent danger. I must admit, though, as I write this I’m wishing I’d have ragged him for the ash, or both. ‘Cause here’s the thing…this guy is nothing like my Dad. My Dad had ocean’s more respect for both his life, his family’s life and the world in which we live to so callously and without thought treat his neighborhood like his own personal ash tray.
I know they’re out there. Men and women in both my Dad’s and my professions that treat it like nothing more than a paycheck. It’s just frustrating when I run across them. I had them on such a huge pedestal as a kid. Seeing them through the eyes of a grown, responsible man can be a bummer. Sometimes, you just don’t want your childhood heroes to be sullied by some irresponsible douche.
I want my kids to look at me the way I looked, and still look, at my Dad. Here’s to hoping. Lord knows I’ll do all I can.
Oh, if it sounds like I’m being a bit over-critical, I must have forgotten to mention Capt. is on probation for DUI. Yeah. Totally should’ve ragged him for both. Oh well, lesson learned.