Saturday, February 05, 2005

1400 Parking Tickets in One Day

In keeping with a promise I made to myself, blogs that I post on weekends will take on a more entertaining tone.

The title alone should make you want to read more. A long time ago in a City just down the freeway…

(If your seeing a diminishing title roll into the blackness of space and hearing regal music then your in for more diminishing returns as this true story unfolds, or is that unravels.)

My partner, to remain un-named, and I had almost no seniority when we were working evening shift downtown. Neither of us had any part of a weekend off and so we had the honor of noticing that almost nothing happened in downtown Houston on Saturday. We would drive around and since nothing was doing, we did nothing too.

One particular Saturday we were sitting in roll call and the Sergeant in charge was noticeably perturbed about something. “I got chewed out because you guys are not writing any parking tickets on Saturday. This is going to change as of today!”

We never wrote parking tickets on Saturday, not ever. There was some kind of unwritten code not to make it hard for those who actually came downtown on the weekend so they wouldn’t have to worry about plugging the meters. ( I know that some of you from New York City are already laughing since I said this was a true story; street parking being a totally different animal on the Houston scene back then.)

After roll call all of us low seniority officer had a second roll call. We decided that the Sergeant should not have to worry about getting chewed out again, at least not for the same thing. We all checked out an additional ten books of parking tickets, some of us more, all twelve of us, and agreed to make it happen.

We went by every fifteen minutes to check on expired parking meters; often having to check the time of the last ticket to make sure we had waited long enough. At the end of shift we turned in all 1400 parking tickets that we had written to the docket clerk’s office. It was a few minutes after 10:00pm when we handed her a medium sized cardboard box with all the tickets and at first she thought it was a joke. Then when she realized that she would have to enter each and every one of those parking tickets, enter them before she would be permitted to go home; she began to cry uncontrollably.

We then made the short trip down the hall and around the corner to Point Control's office and turned in our work cards; a detailed accounting of what each officer had done “for the City” that day, or better stated, what we had done “to the City” that day. Upon reaching the office our not so friendly Sergeant was sitting at his desk with a very unhappy citizen. There in his hand was a stack of tickets that had accumulated under his windshield wiper, his fingers fanning them as if they were a stack of dollar bills being counted.

“What am I supposed to do with these?”, half pleading and half yelling.

“I suggest you pay them.”, he dead panned while looking over to the group of smiling officers lined up at the door.

It didn’t help that we all let loose with a collective horse laugh to punctuate what the Sergeant had said. We never again were told to write parking tickets on Saturday or any other day after that.

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