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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

 

Racist, moi?

This is another post I’ve saved up until management memory dims. A few months ago I had a little confrontation with a person who thought that by simply claiming my motives were suspect, they could stop me issuing a ticket. The vehicle in question was a black Range Rover Freelander sat cheeky as you please on double yellows not five feet (1.5m) from a busy junction; loading restriction in force, no disabled badge or permit visible. Gotcha! I’m busy signing the ticket and stuffing it in the envelope when up pops the driver in full whinge mode.

Driver “What are you doing?” How original, is he blind?
515 “This Your vehicle sir?” Better go through the motions.
Driver “You cannot do this!” Sez who?
515 “Yes I can sir. If this is your vehicle you are breaking the law.”
Driver “You cannot do this!” Oh yes I ca-an.
515 “Sir, your vehicle is in clear contravention of the parking rules so I am issuing a fixed penalty notice. Okay?” On the windscreen, snap, snap, grin, grin, say no more. Job done.
Driver “You only do this because I’m not white.” What? Oh-oh. Trouble.
515 “How was I to know that sir?” Let’s confuse him with facts.
Driver “You saw me and said to yourself, he’s not white, I’ll book him.”
515 “Really sir?” He’s trying to get me to say something racist. Dipshit.
Driver (Pointing aggressively right in my face) “You are racist! You only book my car because I’m not white.”
515 “That’s odd sir. I only noticed your vehicle, not you.” This guy isn’t going to get away with this crap.
Driver “I will report you! What’s your name?”
515 “Officer 515, sir.”
Driver “Don’t you bullshit me you racist pig! I want your name!” You shouldn’t have said that, pal. Time to call in the cavalry.
515 “Just a moment sir.” Key radio, wait a second. “515 to control; respond please, over.”
Driver “What are you doing!” Stupid as well as blind.
515 “Calling my control; if you’ll excuse me sir.” Turn and take three paces away. Silly bastards following.
CCTV “515, good morning. Over.” A familiar voice brings relief. Thank God for that, it’s one of the better CCTV operators.
515 “Hello control; got a problem. Can you get a camera on the corner of High Street opposite the bank please? I may have an awkward customer.”
CCTV “Okay 515, have you visual. I see your problem, do you require assistance?” CCTV can see chummy sticking his finger in my face.
515 “Any CSO’s close by?” Might as well give them some exercise.
CCTV “I’ll see what I can do.”
515 “Much obliged control.” At this point, my manager chimes in over the airwaves.
Kerry “Okay 515, can you get out of there please.”
Driver “You white pig!” He’s really upset, not ready to kick off just yet, but I’m not going to give him an excuse to start a barney by turning my back. I could do, but experience tells me that he’ll only get madder and I may end up looking for my teeth in the gutter.
515 “Will do, as soon as I can do so safely. Over and out.” Now I’m going to give him my full, undivided attention. I take time to look him right in the eyes with a long, cool, Bill Sticker patented Look. “Right sir. I’ve issued that ticket because I believe your vehicle was in contravention of the parking rules. If you disagree with me you can challenge it using the procedure on the back of the ticket.”
Driver “You only give me it because I’m not white. I have you sacked for racism!” He doesn’t sound so convinced now, but he really is dumb because I’m now well and truly pissed off and in no mood to back down. I pause and choose my next words very carefully indeed.
515 “Sir, the only racism I hear right now isn’t coming from me. The only colour I concern myself with is the colour of the road markings and the colour of your vehicle. Your personal colour or religion is immaterial. Complain if you must, but I will make my own report.” More sodding form filling. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” Open notebook; take out pen.
Over his shoulder I can see two of our local PCSO’s grinning their way into view at the far end of the High Street, must be a slow day. Driver catches my brief, slightly smug smile, looks over his shoulder at them and suddenly decides discretion is the better part of valour. He snatches the ticket off his windscreen, throws it at me, oh good he’ll pay the full amount then, and leaps into the drivers seat of his big silly 4x4 before roaring away.

The two PCSO’s arrive. “You okay?”
“Yeah, fine. Thought he could avoid a ticket by playing the racism card.”
“Oh, one of those.” They must hear this stuff all the time.
“’Fraid so. Thought he was going to kick off for a moment there.” We share one of those ‘another day at the office’ shrugs and I start filling out my notebook, getting ready to do the form filling back at base. Writers cramp ensues.

Several months on nothing has come of it; so chummy obviously didn’t make good his threat to report me. Had me sweating for a while there, as even accusations of racist abuse can get you fired on the spot, no appeal, no reprieve; and a black, if you’ll pardon the pun, mark on your employment record that will never wash off. Oh yes, the ticket stuck with chummy paying the full amount. Serve the racist right.

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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