Monday, December 11, 2017

Did I Stutter?

I don't understand why, after I have stopped a driver, explained the violation, taken their license, registration and insurance, told them they were getting a citation, gone back and written the ticket, then reappeared at their door, some drivers will ask me with utter incredulity...

"I'm getting a ticket?!

Of course you are! Do you think I'm gonna tell you I'm giving you a ticket, go write it, then come back and say "April Fools!"?

I'm beginning to think I mutter, or stutter, or am somehow unclear in my explanations to people, because this happens a lot...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Buyer Beware...

Many new ways have popped up recently for purchasing big ticket items.  You no longer have to go to Best Buy to buy that camera, or a car dealer to buy a car.  You can find great deals on Craigslist, NextDoor, Ebay and the myriad other apps and websites that handle such things.

Then you contact the seller, set up a time and location to meet, and take a large amount of (usually) cash with you to an area you are not familiar with, to meet up with a stranger.  What's wrong with that?

If you find yourself in the position of the buyer in such a transaction, there are some things you should keep in mind.  Never meet the seller in an alley or on a dead end street.  Never meet behind a business.  Never meet in the middle of nowhere.  And if possible, don't carry the cash with you.  Stash it in your trunk, or better yet, go to the bank AFTER you're sure you want to buy.

Many local police agencies have even created "safe transaction areas" or "safe exchange zones" at or near the police department. These areas are populated, well lit, frequented by cops and recorded with cameras.  There really is no safer place to make a large dollar Craigslist transaction, and if the seller won't agree to it, then you probably didn't want to do business with them in the first place.

They're also great for other contentious matters like child custody exchanges or civil processes that you want to have in a safe location.

If you have to make a purchase through an online peer to peer system like Craigslist, do me a favor and protect yourself.  I have taken too many robbery and assault reports from people who trust too much.

Be safe...

Monday, November 27, 2017

They're Gonna Fire Me for This...

I will occasionally have reason to stop a driver in a company vehicle for a traffic violation.  More often than not, this leads to a statement from the driver similar to...

"I'm going to get fired if you write me a ticket"

My usual response to this is to ask "Whyzat?"

Have you had a number of tickets in your company vehicle?  Are you on the verge of being fired for your unsafe driving practices?  Why on earth would your employer fire you if I write you a ticket?

Sometimes the answer is "well, I'll have to ask for time off to handle the ticket".  And asking for time off will get you fired?  I'm not buying it.  Plus, if you handle the citation online or by declaration, and you do online traffic school, you will never miss a minute of work.

Often they'll say the company checks their driving record and they will get fired if a point shows up.  I have worked for many companies where driving was one of my primary job duties.  Not a single one held a single point on your driving record as a firing offense.  I'm not buying that one either.  And if that is your company's policy, perhaps you should improve your driving habits to avoid the citation in the first place.

This doesn't come from the tank truck drivers, the drivers hauling nuclear materials or the pool guy who has a full load of chemicals.  This comes from the guy driving the energy drink truck.  This comes from the landscaper.  This comes from the rental car shuttle driver.

In short, if you have not established a history of poor driving habits, you don't run around getting tickets all the time, and you don't work for some company that transports rockets, top secret materials or metric tons of methyl-ethyl-bad-shit, I doubt you're going to get fired for one traffic citation.  If you do get fired, there's something else going on.

The only person I know of who got fired because of one of my traffic tickets was the guy who wasn't supposed to be driving his company vehicle when and where I stopped him.  It wasn't the first time, he knew he was wrong, and he knew he was well and truly fucked.

But it wasn't because of the ticket...

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Case of the Altruistic School Bus Driver...

I've noticed an interesting dynamic in our motoring public lately.

It all started when I was cruising behind a school bus in Smithville one recent fine morning.  I often do this so I can educate drivers when they fail to stop for the pretty flashing red lights and stop signs on the bus.  I got behind one of the smaller buses and followed for about three-quarters of a mile, then the driver turned on the amber flashers to indicate an upcoming stop.  These amber lights are a visual aid to drivers telling them the lights are going to start flashing red soon, much as the amber traffic signal at an intersection means the red light is about to show itself and you should get ready to stop.

Or floor it if that is your wont....

As I watched the amber lights flash left and right, the bus pulled to the curb, the amber lights went off, and.....


I waited, but the red lights never came on.  The driver spoke with a parent for a few seconds as the child boarded the bus, but the red lights never flashed.  Of course I had to go have a chat with the driver.  I explained to her, in lieu of issuing her a citation, that she was required to turn the flashing red lights on whenever she was loading or unloading children on a highway, but I was sure she already knew that.  Her response was the typical, "I'm sorry officer.  I am fully aware of this and I'll make sure it never happens again."  

Well, that was the gist of her response anyway, although not as polite and with a few choice words thrown in.  At least she kept it mostly clean for the kiddies.

I had to go deal with a separate issue after that contact and I was not able to follow farther.  Fast forward with me to the following week, when I was again on the hunt for school bus light violators (the passing the bus kind), and I found myself behind another small school bus.  I followed for a while, the amber lights came on, the bus pulled over, and.....


WTF? Where are the red lights?  Well, of course, I had to go speak with this driver and find out what was the issue.  Imagine my surprise (shock even) when I found myself face to face with the same driver I had spoken with the previous week.  Apparently warnings DON'T work.  Who knew?  So off I went, back to the bike with her driver license, registration and proof of insurance.

When I returned with the citation, the driver explained to me that she didn't turn the red lights on because she saw me behind her and "didn't want anyone to get a ticket."  Come again?  You violated the law, and failed in your duty to ensure the safety of the children boarding and disembarking from your bus because you didn't want me to write someone else a ticket for failing to stop for your red lights?  The lights that are put there to make sure kids can get on and off your bus safely?  The lights you're required by law to turn on, and people are required by law to stop for? 

It is highly likely you violated company policy as well.  But, hell... who am I to argue?  Press hard, you're making three copies.

This series of events set me to thinking.  I know, right?  ME thinking?  But I digress...

It occurred to me that this was not the first time I experienced someone breaking a law in favor of avoiding another law.  I frequently speak with drivers who stop in a bus zone (red curbs, signs and all) to talk on their cell phone.  Invariably they say it is because they didn't want to talk on the phone while they were driving, because that's illegal you know... 

Only problem is, a bus zone ticket is over $400, whereas a cell phone ticket sets you back about $175.  So you violated a law to keep from violating a different law, when you could have just driven the extra 50 feet to the driveway and parked in a parking lot to have your phone conversation.  Funny thing is, that wouldn't have cost you anything.

But the bus driver was the first time I could recall someone saying they broke the law to keep OTHERS from getting a citation.  Normally it's the other way around.  "I wouldn't have had to break the law if that guy wasn't doing something illegal first".

I'm looking forward to the day this one comes up in traffic court. 

It should be entertaining...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Another Public Service Announcement...

I dropped in at my local off-duty Starbucks this morning, and when I drove in to the parking lot I saw this...

We call this an "FBI clue".  Something so obvious ANYONE should be able to figure it out.  When you see a pile of broken window glass on the pavement it is a pretty good indication the last schmuck who parked there left his laptop bag or her purse in the car, the window got broken and their shit got stolen.

Where I work we take these all the time.  Like daily.  SEVERAL TIMES daily.

I've heard all the excuses....

"It's too inconvenient to take my bag in with me."  Is it more inconvenient than paying for the $200 broken window and replacing your iPad?  Maybe you're just too lazy to carry it in?

"I was only in there for a minute!"  And your shit was in the wind in seconds!  It takes no time for a bad guy to smash your window and grab your stuff.

"There was nothing valuable in my bag."  Please, tell me how the bad guys know that?  From outside your car.  Looking in through the window.  They don't, nor do they care.  All they see is a bag in a car that may or may not contain a laptop.  It costs them nothing to smash your window and find out.

"But my windows are tinted."  Okay.  Can you see out through those tinted windows?  Well, guess what.  The bad guys can see in too.

While I have to at least appear concerned when I'm dealing with "victims" of theft, it is difficult to sympathize with them.  But when I suggest that they should have taken their stuff with them, and NOT in the tone I use here, believe me, the responses I get are astounding.

It should be common sense folks, although it seem it is not so common these days.

With the advent of the effective decriminalization of misdemeanors thanks to our California voters, these vehicle burglaries have skyrocketed.  There is really no consequence to being a thief anymore, so now it is upon you, the people, to protect your stuff by not leaving it in your car.

Otherwise, it will be upon us, law enforcement, to come out and take your report so you can make your insurance claims and raise all our rates.

And don't think just because you live in Atherton, or Kensington, or Beverly Fucking Hills you'll be immune to this.

Don't be that guy...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Victor! Are You Still Alive?!

YES, I'm still alive!

Perhaps I may have used that title before, but to be honest, it's been so damned long I don't remember.

Does anyone even read this blog anymore?

Would it be worthwhile to post things on here now and then or has this poor neglected page fallen off everyone's radar?

Someone let me know, eh?


Monday, June 19, 2017

HTC Bolt and Sprint "Customer Care"

So, it sucks to make this my first post in several years, but since Sprint sees fit to remove all reviews of this piece of shit phone from their web site, I have no other forum.

In November (2016) I "upgraded" my phone to an HTC Bolt.  The same day, before I even got home with it, there was a dead line of pixels down the screen.  I took the phone back to the Sprint Store the next day, and by then it had two dead lines.  The Sprint Store replaced the phone without a problem.

Fast forward five months, and after working slowly, but at least still working, the screen on the Bolt went tits up.  It would not even come on half the time.  The phone still worked, but there was nothing displayed on the screen.  So I did what any responsible phone owner would do...  I took it to the Sprint repair store to see what my insurance would do for me.

So the repair guys at the Emeryville Sprint Store are awesome.  Brain and Andrew handled the replacement of my phone.  A refurbished phone was ordered and arrived a couple days later, so I made the trek down to the store to have it activated.

Dead, right out of the box.  The screen on the replacement phone would not even come on.  The phone powered on and started talking like HTC phones do, but the screen was dead.  So, yet another phone ordered.  Number four arrived Friday and Andrew checked it to make sure it worked before I wasted another trip to the store.  When the phone powered up and seemed right, I went to the store and picked it up.

Two days later I'm walking around in Target, and I pick my phone up to look at something.  I'm damned if I can remember what I was going to look at, because THE FUCKING SCREEN WOULDN'T COME ON!

Andrew recommended calling Sprint Customer Care to see if they could do something, because otherwise I would either get the same model of phone or a step down.  So today, I called Sprint.  After three hours on the phone with four people in the Philippines and two more here in the U.S. of A. I learn that there is absolutely nothing Sprint is willing to do for me.

My options?  I can take the phone downgrade from the insurance while continuing to pay off the Bolt I will no longer have, or...

I can pay $340 to pay off the Bolt and then pay again for another upgrade, or...

I can pay that $340 and cancel my Sprint service.

I find it very telling that when I look on the Sprint web site, there are absolutely no reviews for this piece of shit phone, after hearing from the repair guys that there are constant problems with the Bolt.  And yet, Sprint continues to sell them in their stores and won't even allow customers to see reviews online.

After having been a Sprint customer for over fifteen years, I find myself eyeing Verizon.  Thanks Sprint. 

Once this phone is paid off you'll never see another dime from me...