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Friday, March 10, 2006


Conditioned reflexes

“How’d you sleep at night?” Is a question I’ve often been asked by transgressing motorists. To be quite honest I tend to look at such a phrase as a guilty neo-Pavlovian response to getting caught. “Have you got nothing better to do?” is another phrase that pops out when the prefrontally challenged get caught in flagrante delicto. Er, excuse me? I’m a Parking Enforcement Officer – that’s a restriction, pal. As my youngest would say – Duh.

It’s a curious way of looking at matters when you come to think of it – almost as if the Enforcing Officer is responsible for them committing the transgression in the first place. I’m sure someone better schooled in psychology than I could break it down into a recognisable staged process of response. There’s probably a PhD in there somewhere for someone if they can do it properly. Any old road up - here is my poor attempt.

First phase; Anger / Guilt reaction 1 - Denial “I haven’t got a ticket have I?”
Second phase; Anger / Guilt reaction 2 – Transference “It’s all your fault!”
Third phase; Anger / Guilt reaction 3 – Reciprocity “I’m going to complain.” About the Enforcing Officer, about the Ticket as issued, about the markings, about why they can’t do what the fuck they like anywhere, anytime and sod everybody else.

The above three phases do not include the various Anger / Threat responses as these vary depending upon the Enforcers level of ability to deal with the Anger / Guilt reaction. As I have never taken a psychology course in my life – I’m only guessing. More enlightened views are solicited.

For my own part I’m usually away on my tootsies long before phase 2 has blown itself out. I learned in my first three months of this job that you find the offence, book and move on. That’s my neo-Pavlovian conditioned reflex to real or implied threats.

You try to be fair, but sometimes. Well, just about every day unfortunately. Regrettably four or five times a day I have this form of mini confrontation. You’d think people would learn. Or is that just me having too forgiving a view of human nature?


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Location: British Columbia, Canada

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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