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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

 

Exemptions

I get pig sick of the people who invent exemptions for themselves and then whine when they are caught, making it sound like it’s our fault they were breaking the law. ‘Charities’ are the worst offenders. Mostly treehuggers of whatever colour. Three dozen fanatics charge out to rescue a dying frog in the local pond; leave their vehicle blocking out, let’s say a no loading restriction where they cause congestion and thus more urban pollution; then when they get booked for it they go scampering to the media and whinge, trying to make it look like the Parking Enforcers are a bunch of Nazi’s.

Let’s get something straight; unless you have a duly authorised permit to stop on a restriction you shouldn’t be there. The only official exemptions are;

The Armed forces (None of us would ever be dumb enough to try and book an APC or a Challenger Tank – Although we might send an unpopular newbie in to try – He, he, he.)
The Police (We occasionally need their help)
Ambulances and Official Paramedics (Likewise, but London occasionally does things differently.)
Fire Brigade (Yeah, right. Like we’re that stupid)
Post Office Delivery vehicles (Not UPS, DHL or any other courier company)
Security vans (They are usually listed in the Controlled Parking Zone orders for the area).
Removals vans have exemptions in certain places too, but that depends on the CPZ orders for the Special Parking Areas.

Anyone else is fair game. If the driver is present they get moved on (Well at least I do it that way), otherwise the wheels turn and a parking ticket is issued. Even the RSPCA is not exempt. The people who went to try and ‘rescue’ that whale in the Thames last year (Even if it died anyway) were not exempt. Guide dogs for the blind are not exempt. Cancer Research is not exempt. If you aren’t on the above list of ‘official’ exemptions; park legally or get booked.

The problem is that all the do gooders want to be given exemptions and there’s no mechanism for ensuring they’re being honest or not. Trust between public and enforcement has broken down because it’s fashionable to do what you please and sod everyone else. Ergo, we are not allowed discretion in these matters, although I often turn a blind eye for a couple of minutes if someone asks really nicely.

The problem is that urban Britain is just too small for said sentimentalist antics. If it wasn’t, then I wouldn’t be in a job.

Incidentally, any ‘Grace period’ of observation that we give is purely at the issuing officers discretion. Five minutes is a compromise figure because the odds are that a non liveried vehicle on a restriction is more likely to be taking the piss than loading. If an Officer is sure someone is parked and not loading, he / she can issue immediately. However, if a plasterers van is on double yellows outside McDonalds, I’m not likely to allow much more than two to five minutes either.
 

You can run, but - ouch

this is why you don't run from the police

Not the one those coppers were disciplined for sharing, but Ouch! As they say, that's gotta hurt

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

 

I can think of a use for these….

Like keeping errant motorists talking while you sneak up and slap one on. (Trust a bloody Parking Enforcer to think of that one) Cheers to Wilkyle over in Hawaii for the tip.

NEW VERSION Coming up (Which doesn't autoplay)

Only the Danes could come up with this. Unfortunately I suspect the British version would be much less attractive, given our climate and national character (Or lack of it). Imagine it being done by a character from 'Little Britain' - Eeeeuuw!

Monday, November 27, 2006

 

A modest proposition

I was reading all the comments on Dave Copperfields blog a couple of days ago about Opiate addiction and felt moved to suggest the following;


Here's an idea. Purchase the entire Afghan poppy harvest (Give the farmers a better 'fairtrade' price than the warlords and use our existing military muscle to beef up the policy) thus cutting down the supply. Next; All convicted addicts should be given jobs as 'outreach social workers' in the Afghan poppy fields thus closing the gap between supplier and 'customer'.

Have no idea if it would work, but anything's better (And cheaper) than the mess we have now.

Regards

Bill

Upon reflection, I feel that the idea is under refined and requires adjustment in the light of historical record. The strategy would require several distinct phases.
  1. Purchase at ‘Fairtrade’ prices the entire opium harvest of Afghanistan.
  2. Send convicted dealers in class A substances to act as supervised ‘Outreach workers’ in the Opium growing areas. No flak jackets for protection just W H Smith bog standard clipboards.
  3. Use part of the surplus to supply existing addicts free of charge until they finally OD and free up Police time and resources that way.
  4. Use another part of the crop to produce pharmaceuticals for legitimate uses such as pain relief for UK Terminal Cancer patients.
  5. Become a major supplier of Pharmaceutical opiates to the rest of the world by controlling a large share of the global supply.
  6. Use the profits from said trade to make good some of the current budget shortfall

Point one: Buying out the entire Afghan opium harvest would certainly be cheaper than the current dead end of a prolonged military conflict. The warlords and sponsors of Terrorism would have to find another way of paying for their
ammunition.
Point two: Exporting the dealers out to a highly restricted substance
rich environment would either a) turn them into addicts b) get them killed by
the locals or even c) Get them on the road to sorting their lives out. Any of
these would do.
Point three: Providing registered addicts (Like in the 1960’s and
70’s) with prescription Heroin on demand would reduce the burden of petty crime, and furthermore make a large hole in the funding of organised crime (They’d soon find something else, but I never said the idea was perfect).
Point four: Home produced pharmaceuticals for pain relief would reduce some of the problems with current high NHS drug prices.
Point five: Why shouldn’t we profit from what is after all, a purely business arrangement.
Point six: Providing the whole operation was run on a modest budget and kept mostly out of the EU (Thus sidestepping the ‘elf & safety’ aspects and needless bureaucracy of anything the European Commissioners touch) it might (Gasp!) turn a modest profit whilst removing a sizeable chunk of the funding for Terrorism and organised crime.

I’m sure the moralists out there will get on their high horses and scream that ‘Don't do drugs, drugs are bad’ and should be totally eradicated, my point is that Opium forms the basis for many useful means of pain relief, and a a proof I offer the following; a few years ago I had a little run in with a form of Cancer, and boy was I glad of a little post operative Diamorphine then!

In the words of William Shakespeare “Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.” There are notable exceptions to this axiom, but pain relief for sick people isn’t one of them. As for giving addicts free gear to shoot up controlled doses in a safe environment, why not? If they want to OD, in the words of Brian Clarks play; Whose life is it anyway? Do others have the right to intervene in anothers addiction(s)? I’d call it a Win-win scenario myself. As for the addicts grieving families, sorry folks, but addicts by their very nature (Generally speaking, I’m sure there are some exceptions) aren’t that good at being the ‘family type’.

Having run into a few class A addicts in my time, I recognise that they are basically weak people who have trouble controlling and channelling their own drives and urges. My experience tells me that no matter what; you can’t live people’s lives for them, so why even try?

For example; Prohibition in 1920’s America was a failure. Taxation and quality control over the years have proved far better controls of Alcohol. Why should the same controls not be applied to Class A drugs?

My argument is that all you can do is keep the lid on the worst excesses of humanity (As with my job) and let the winners win, and the losers edit themselves out of existence. Perfection is not a state many humans can ever reach or even agree on. We are, as a species, fallible and not every one of us is worth saving. I'm probably not, and would bitterly resent your interfering if you tried to 'save' my miserable neck from the consequences of my own actions.

I’m sure people like the Guardianistas will recoil in horror at such a suggestion; but humans (at least in my observation) are driven not by high morals, intellect, or whatever, but by base visceral urges. One only has to look at some ‘top shelf’
magazines to see the lengths some people will go to get their rocks off. Better
still; visit the red light district in any major European city. My point is this; you can’t buck human nature.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

 

Oh you are awful

Well I am. I have few redeeming features if you listen to some people, but then again the same people are the ones who whine like wonky gearboxes when their streets aren’t kept clear. So where does this leave me? Holding the shit end of the stick as always I think.

My life on the Streets is moving inexorably to its bitter end, my exit strategy is moving forward slowly but surely, and life may shortly (I hope) improve. One is not holding one’s breath you understand, but hope springs eternal as they say. A number of the other guys feel this way and are also laying plans. That mess room is going to be an awful empty place if the grumbling is anything to go by.

On the brighter side (Well to my warped sense of humour at least), one of todays little encounters made me suppress a smirk. A driver has parked his early 1990’s BMW on double yellows (A sure sign that there is a below the waist, above the neck winkle problem) and is just sitting there in the drivers seat. As I am wont to do, I walk over to the vehicle in clear line of sight and try to catch the drivers attention. Driver winds down window. “What?” He demands angrily. What a nice man, not.
“You do realise you’re parked on double yellow lines, sir.”
“Yeah, so what?” Am I wearing a uniform or a frilly pink tutu, pal?
“You shouldn’t park here, sir.”
“Yeah I can.” This boy’s a fool.
“The markings indicate that you may not stop here sir.”
“My daughters over there.” So aren’t you with her? You utter buffoon.
“Why not park over there in the car park sir?”
“Don’t you be sarcastic to me!”
“No I’m not sir. I am simply asking politely why you do not park legally. There are spaces over there.” I indicate the pay and display bays across the street. “I’ve just checked.”
He snarled at me and wound the window up. I think he said something along the lines of it was going to be ‘All my fault’ if his precious little princess got raped – or some such nonsense. I missed the rest of what he said and perhaps that’s just as well. He’d already proved himself to be a grade A pillock. If he was that keen on protecting his kids he’d be out there keeping them company instead of sitting in his ageing willy substitute.

His behaviour, like that of so many others sometimes makes me think I’m wasting my time trying to be polite. I often feel I might as well just start punching in a vehicles details regardless. Just like the jobsworth stereotype many people automatically assume me to be. This blog will never change that. Restrictions generate contraventions like sewers flow with shit. It’s in the nature of things. The rules exist to govern the behaviour of those who cannot see the folly of their own actions, and the inconvenience they bring to others. Then again, I think I’ll keep on doing the job the way I already do because I’ve grown comfortable with it. I sleep well at night, only awakened by the occasional wifely elbow in the ribs when my snoring gets too much.
 

Powerless

There are moments in my job when I feel a little sick at heart. Friday brought one of them. It was the middle of the day and I was on the town centre beat which was crowded with the first glut of Christmas shoppers and people whining “I’ll only be a minute!” (Liars). Two vans were causing a congestion problem in a narrow street which, because they were unloading I could do little about.

From off in the distance I could hear the distinctive siren of an ambulance and caught the impression of blue flashing lights two streets away. For a moment I was hoping that it wasn’t heading my way. Regrettably it was. I watched helplessly, teeth clenched, as it spent precious seconds struggling around the two vehicles against the flow of traffic.

After what seemed too long the Ambulance sped past me and pulled over a street further on. From my vantage point I watched the green uniformed crew quickstep out loaded with kit. In the back of my mind I was praying that it was a false alarm and that the delays caused by the vans unloading had not proved detrimental to their casualty.

It’s still bothering me two days on.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

 

The Outer Limits

If there’s a beat that is both loved and despised by us all it’s doing beat J midweek. In the words of Mark Twain, like golf, it is ‘a good walk spoiled’. Lots and lots of empty streets and clear restrictions which must be covered, or else. Recently, our new supervisor has taken to breezing around in the van, just to check that you are where you say you are, apparently just to say “Hello Bill, anything doing?” in a kind of faux-cheery manner before buggering off to let you collect even more blisters on your feet. On these occasions, even my colourful invective has been stretched to near breaking point.

Beat J is not a beat you want to do if your bladder isn’t made of cast steel and you need a hot drink to break up the morning. When I first started this unholy job, I used to have trouble getting back on time for lunch on this beat. Nowadays I get out a small notebook and jot down a few story notes as I’m ambling along. I mouth bits of story dialogue to myself to get the feel of the words and am about as effective as nailing jelly to the ceiling as far as parking enforcement is concerned. I’m just giving my uniform an airing.

This morning, one hour into my foot patrol I’m staring down another straight run of double yellows with nary an infraction in sight when my radio crackles “515, please respond, over.” There goes my peace and quiet, just as I was building a decent narrative thread. Bugger.
“515 responding.”
“515, your location please.”
“Half way along Mainbar Road, heading north.”
“Which way is that?” Learn to use a map dickwit.
“Towards Collet Avenue.”
“Right, can you backtrack to base, now please.”
“I’ll be about twenty minutes.”
“No problem.” This had better be important.

So I quickstep all the way back to base, only to be greeted with a “Sorry mate, we’ve sorted it now.” Why’s he trying not to laugh?
“Any chance of a lift back out to Collet Avenue?”
“Van’s playing up mate, sorry.” If you’re lying, you will be.

Off I pootle, my patrol timings all screwed up and no chance of a break for another three hours, inwardly cursing new supervisor. However, being the good little grafter I am I carry on, wondering abstractedly why I hadn’t the good sense to have brought my Mp3 player so I could at least listen to some downloaded Radio Comedy as I pounded this near deserted set of streets. Daydreaming along though a patch of light drizzle, I ducked out of the precipitation in the lee of a bus shelter, hoping no one mistook me for a bus inspector, as some OAP’s regularly do. A quick glance at the sign told me this 1950’s prefabricated design hadn’t seen a bus for years. So for a change I could relax.

Not so. My radio bleeps and crackles again. “515, your location please.”
“Howland Street.”
“Yeah, can you get back to base pronto.”
“Okay, what’s the problem?”
“Can’t tell you over the air.”
All of a sudden I have this sudden flash of inspiration. “I hope it’s urgent, or are you doing a Blackadder on me?”
“What do you mean 515?”
“I’ll call you. Wait one.” Now the episode I have in mind is ‘Money’ from the Blackadder 2 series, where the Queen, played by Miranda Richardson, and Lord Melchet, as portrayed by Stephen Fry, wind up Edmund Blackadder who is in deep financial trouble with the Black Monks by repeatedly calling him from Billingsgate to the Palace as a joke. New supervisor is a Blackadder fan and I think he’s bored. I call his number on my mobile phone. It’s engaged or switched off. Uh-huh.

Two can play this game. I stay exactly where I am and call back on the Radio. “This is 515, can’t return to base, I’ve got a couple of customers on double yellows.” This is a blatant lie. There is nothing in sight but he doesn’t know this. There’s only one way to fight back, and that’s by playing a variant of Monty Python’s ‘Cheese Shop’ sketch. Every time New Supervisor calls, I’ll have a fresh excuse why I cannot do his bidding right this moment.

Ten minutes later, New supervisor calls again. “Have you finished booking yet 515?”
“Yeah, you scared them off, they heard my radio bleeping.”
“Sorry mate. Where are you now?”
“Turton place.” I say truthfully. “One of my shoelaces has broken. I’ll have to fix it.” I lie.
“Okay, we’ve sorted it now.” Yeah, right. “No need for you to come back." Yet.

Twice more he tried to call me back to base for nothing, twice more I had an excuse ready. By the time he had bored of his little game; I had covered the beat and was back at base with my aching feet up munching my sandwiches and screwing up my face at a barely drinkable cup of mess room tea. New Supervisor poked his head in. “There you are Bill. You back then?”
“Nah, this is a recorded lunchtime and I’m officially off duty.”
“Oh, right.” His face falls; he knows he’s been rumbled.
“You were playing Cheese shop weren’t you?” Wavey Davey sits down beside me when new supervisor had gone.
“Don’t know what you mean.” I say past a mouthful of processed chicken.
“I went past the office this morning and I overheard him talking to his little friend Joey.”
“Ah, the pederasts catamite.” I observe dryly.
“Yeah, well. They were talking about this Blackadder episode.”
“I know.”
“And they thought it would be fun to see if they could catch one of us out with the same trick.”
“I know.”
“They fucked up when they picked on you didn’t they?” He chuckled.
“Yep. I’ve been around too long and I’ve got a nasty suspicious mind.”
“What was it the first time?”
“They wouldn’t tell me.”
“Right. How did you know?”
“I don’t know. It was just the look on his face when I first went back to the office. He was smirking at me.”
“Did you twig right away?”
“No, it was when he tried to pull the same thing twice.”
“He should get a proper job.”
“So should we all Davey me old mucker, so should we all.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

 

Dodgy takeaways

One of our guys came back to the mess room in a right state at afternoon tea break a couple of weeks ago. Sweating, shaking, very feverish. He had to be taken home. The day after he phoned in sick with acute food poisoning. A very nasty bout too. He almost ended up in hospital.

Two days later, another one of ours went down late afternoon with the very self same symptoms. A couple of us noticed that they had both done the same beat on the day they went sick. Asif was the first to voice his suspicions. “Here, they must have both had chips from the Tall Street chippy at dinner time”
“Isn’t that owned by that bloke who kept on parking on double yellows outside his shop? Then kept telling the council he owned the double yellows there?”
“Yeah. That daft prat.”
“Yeah, but everyone knows our lot shouldn’t use it.”
He didn’t.” Asif nodded as our oppo was carted off home.
“Gordon Bennet.”
“It’s like you don’t eat at the curry house down on Brixham Road.”
“They don’t like us much there do they?”
“Not really.”
“Did the health inspectors ever catch them?”
“Nah, slippery bastards.”
“Seen him on a restriction recently?”
“He’s changed his car I think.”
“Well, if we see anything around there, we’ll just have to book it.”
“Too right mate. I’m not going to let either of ‘em off when I catch ‘em. Sods.”

Of such small battles is our daily war of attrition on illegal parking constructed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

 

Yay Lennie!

Absolutely delighted to see Lennie Briscoe back blogging. Albeit at a new location. Pity about the old blog, but I'm just happy to see him back.

Big thanks to Merys for finding a lost soul and reintroducing him back to the fold.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

 

As seen on TV

Just got a few e-mails and comments about one of my blog entries from an occasion where I called an ambulance for a guy having a severe hypoglycaemic episode. Apparently a very similar story featured in an episode of BBC's Medi-Soap 'Casualty'. Since I do not watch the TV much, I can’t say for certain but the story is frighteningly familiar. From what my friends tell me, it looks like the blog entry was lifted wholesale and rewritten slightly by some BBC hack so that the poor bloody helpful Parking Warden got beaten up for his trouble.

Just as a recap, this was the blog entry in question. Since then I’ve been on the scene and helped out at more than three other medical emergencies (for what little help I could offer) and proud to do so. Just did my bit and walked on. Oh, and just for the record, I’ve been threatened but no one has to date got to the point of assaulting me.

Incidentally; on our patch we now have a well established procedure where drivers who are taken unwell get their vehicle registrations put up on the mess room board and over the air so that we don’t book them. (This happens at least once a week) In addition I can name three of my colleagues who have done almost exactly what I did for the victims of heart attacks and other sudden serious malaises.

I know it’s fame of a sort, but I’d like to be asked if they could use the material first. Not that the cheap bastards ever will.

My response? Rest assured that any vehicle with a BBC permit or logo on it will in future be assured of my closest personal attention. Park legally guys.

Friday, November 17, 2006

 

Known face

I reckon this is how the old Peel beat system used to work. You put a bunch of people out on the streets in uniform and send them round the same beats. The locals get to know them and vice versa, boundaries are set and everybody knows where they stand. Usually in a kind of inverted parking Mexican stand off. Erring motorists see us and sod off. We see them on a restriction and know that the driver will be away on his twinkly little radials before you’ve even logged his registration. They constantly push the envelope, and you have to stagger your breaks and alter your routine to catch them out. This has the effect that the restrictions and streets get cleared; especially when I double back and materialise like Dr Who’s Tardis less than five metres away from their vehicle. I’m sure I’ve caused some drivers whiplash injuries by doing this. Gosh, aren’t I a meanie?

Truth is; once you’ve bagged a few of the regular crowd this way, word gets round about what a sneaky bastard you are and the streets stay clear for more than fifteen minutes at a time because it’s really a hard core of repeat offenders who cause all the problems. When that minority knows that you don’t take prisoners, the job gets easier. An implacable countenance helps too. The locals know that you won’t take any nonsense and are less inclined to try it on. This means the number of tickets I have to hand out have gone down appreciably, which does not displease me overmuch. My major problems come from out of towners.

Let’s face it; if my job is truly about prevention and patrol presence, then I’m doing it right. Not that this will ever make Management happy. That would be too much to ask.

Anyway, welcome to another Parking Blogger for the sidebar; C4NKR – Another Parking Attendant.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

 

Weird shit

There has to be at least one in every organisation; the bullshit merchant, the conspiracy theorist that no matter how well confronted with reality prefers their own eldritch version of events. This particular week it was my turn to be exposed to a deluge of crap from which I have only recently extricated myself. This time round I got lucky and tracked the rumours to their source.

Said source was in the mess at lunch time and I decided that this time they weren’t going to get away with it.
“Michael me boy, I want a word with you.”
“Hello Bill, how are you?” Don’t play the innocent with me, sunshine.
“Let’s skip the pleasantries. What have you been saying to our new supervisor about me?” I stand on the other side of the table from him.
“Nothing mate, honest.” Bollocks.
“He says different. Chas says different. Davey says different. You got a problem with me or how I do my job?”
“No.” Liar.
“Word is that you’ve been telling people I’ve got a criminal record.”
“No I haven’t.” Liar, liar, pants on fire.
“Word is that you’ve been telling people I once got done for theft.”
“Honest, I didn’t.” Squirm you bastard.
“Word is that you’ve been telling people I’m dishonest and I let people off parking tickets for bribes. I say none of these allegations are true. I say you’re a lying sack of shit.”
“As God is my witness Bill.” He’s not, but I do have others.
“Hoy! Chas! Davey!” I call over two of my colleagues and indicate the miscreant. “Just repeat what you heard Michael here telling other people about me.” I’m standing on the other side of the mess room table, fists on the Formica top, leaning forward. He’s sitting opposite and trying to burrow through the seat of a plastic chair with his arse cheeks.
“I never said anything like!” Be afraid.
“Hold on, you told me Bill got done for thieving ten years ago.” Chas leans back against the mess room wall with a grin. Some of the other faces start to edge back in case it kicks off and we have a punch up on our hands. Not that I’m going to let that happen. Not when humiliating someone in front of everyone else is so much more fun. Especially when I can use his own bullshit against him.
“Yeah, and how he got away with GBH on a bloke.” Chimes in Davey.
“I never!”
“Yeah, and that he lets his friends off parking tickets.” Manic Mary interjects. She was last months target.
“I never said that!”
“Yes you bloody did.” I’m right in his face now. “These are serious accusations my boy. Can you prove them?”

“Pack it in Bill.” Bernie our senior supervisor butts in from the mess room doorway. I move back carefully, still staring into Michaels face. “That’s enough.” Bernie is grinning, he ‘s been on the receiving end too so he’s not exactly sympathetic with Michael.
“You’re no fun at all.” I step back. Michael is pale faced and I swear he’s shivering. “I wasn’t going to do anything – much.”
“You start a fight in here and you’ll have to deal with me.”
“Who me? I just wanted to know why this little shit was spreading lies about me.” I finally break eye contact with Michael. “He’s the biggest skiver of us all and just spreads lies about other people to divert their attention.”
“That’s not true!” Michael blurts. He’s panicking.
“Check his beat stats!” Someone else calls out; I’m not sure who.
“Seems like certain people spend less time out on patrol than the rest of us.” I remark pointedly.
“That’s enough Bill. You’ve made your point.” Bernie takes another step closer. I backed away carefully.
“Bernie, can I have a word with all three supervisors?” I asked.
“All right, so long as you calm down first. Come on.” He leads me out of the mess and over to front office. Kerry wasn’t on so it was just me and the Supervisors.

To cut a very long story short, I detailed exactly why I was so angry. They told me what had actually been said to them and after much heated debate we all agreed firstly that Michael was a skiving, bullshitting piece of shite. Secondly, if Ma Stickers second son would refrain from punching Michaels lights out Michael would be getting all the crap jobs for a while, and would that close the matter? After due consideration all parties sensibly accepted this compromise.

To be honest, now that Michael’s credibility has been publicly flushed into the sewer I don’t think he’s going to be with us much longer. Neither, I hope will I; but that’s another story for another day.

Monday, November 13, 2006

 

Diversity training

Glorious, glorious night shifts when all the supervisors are tucked up in their cute little beddy byes and the Office staff have long since gone home. We get to patrol where we think best instead of trying to do everything at once, with no calls from control and the office demanding that we drop everything and do their bidding right now. Late night shift means you are in charge and can get on with your job; even if disillusionment is driving towards a large metaphor marked ‘exit’.

The one black spot, as delivered by retired merchant seamen going by the name of Blind Pew, is a summons from They Who Have No Idea to attend a compulsory ‘Diversity Seminar’ on the day after tomorrow. Oh God.

I detest these things. They are the biggest waste of time ever created by those who would claim to be full grown adults (If they had the brains). I fail to see the point of these courses for people who do my kind of job. Especially as said course means I have to come in early after a late shift and sit in a stuffy meeting room trying not to fall asleep before indulging in some witless role playing designed to make me think more ‘inclusively’. Why must we waste our time with this arrant nonsense?

The only things that really concern us as parking enforcers is the make, colour and model of the vehicle we have to book and the restriction it is on. Who it belongs to, their genetic heritage and religious preference are immaterial. Everyone gets the same treatment. We’re very fair about it; punctiliously so. What do we therefore need to know about ‘diversity’? We know about diversity, the Streets themselves are diverse and full of different kinds of people that I have to deal with all my working days.

All I have to say is; I’m a human being – get me out of here!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

 

I’ve been thinking….

Every so often one gets contacted by media types looking for ‘funny’ stories about life out here in the big bad wild and sometimes not so wild world of the streets. Recently I’ve been wondering if any media types might be interested in making programmes about parking enforcement as practiced in Britain with advice from a veteran Enforcement Officer. No hype, just the real deal.

Normally I refuse to help on the grounds that discovery would lay me open to a ‘disciplinary’ and possible sacking. My reason behind this apparent volte face is the current state of play in our little neck of the woods. I am busy with my exit strategy, but I’m also looking to make something out of it; money for example. Never mind wasting the TV tax (Yes it is a tax – ever tried not having a TV?) on an undercover reporter. How’s about making some TV shows with the real inside track from an articulate ex enforcement officer with over three years on street experience?

Such programmes would include details of what to do if you have a parking problem and who to talk to. What to do if you get one slapped on your windscreen. What markings are enforceable and what aren’t not to mention by whom. How to deal with Parking Enforcers apart from acting like a complete arse. Little titbits like the famous disabled ‘blue badges’ and the London Boroughs where they are no good at all. All that stuff.

Might I reiterate that I would not do any of this for free. I’m not comfortable with being this mercenary but no money – no deal. Make it worth my while. Any takers?

Thought not. Back to the drawing board.

Friday, November 10, 2006

 

Not so good

The scuttlebutt in the mess room is not so good. More punitive edicts have come down from on high and a certain melancholy brings the following lines from memory;

I met a girl who sang the blues
and I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away…..


From American Pie, Don MacLean, Released October 1971.

Perhaps tonights shift will bring some light relief.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

 

My poor bloody dog

It’s bonfire night again and I’ve been holding my poor firework traumatised dog in my arms half the night. He hates fireworks and sudden loud noises. He’s a ‘Rescue’ dog (He was a stray and is now my adopted pet) but someone must have had ‘fun’ throwing fireworks at him when he was a pup because the noise reduces him to a quivering fur bag of jelly. Love him as I do, I can’t help feeling aggrieved at the selfish behaviour of some people.

I was reading the Ceefax (BBC Teletext service page 145) letters this weekend and saw one from a JM of somewhere, who complained about anti-social pets and how he had purchased a large box of fireworks to get his ‘revenge’. This letter annoyed me not a little, and I hope that said letter writer gets what he deserves. It was indicative of a small minded and petty person who was going to commit an anti-social act against all the pets in the area. Not just the few Dogs with irresponsible owners that annoyed him in the first place, but everyone’s pets. Bastard.

If you’re a dog owner (Slave?) like me you’ll appreciate the trauma that such loud explosions cause to your pet. Notwithstanding the artillery barrage this year wasn’t so bad as last. Maybe the worst of the manic firework slingers have all gone bankrupt – now that would be justice.

For my own part I’m on late shift this Tuesday and all next week. Any bonfire parties with extra loud fireworks kicking off after eight p.m. are going to find little mercy from me if they have parked their vehicles incorrectly. Yes I know this is almost as petty and small minded as someone buying fireworks just to traumatise animals, but maybe the parking fines will put a crimp in their activities next year.

I pride myself on being fair, but sometimes the prospect of delivering a little justice for the voiceless is enough to make me drop my usual high standards.

Friday, November 03, 2006

 

Behind the scenes

Thank god it’s Friday. Now my thoughts have had time to clear from the working weeks fug, and before Mrs S returns from work I need to get this down while it is still clear in my head.

Something is going on in our department that I do not like the sound of. Or rather it is the lack of something that concerns me. That something is communication. There seems to be a singular lack of it between even the lowest levels of management; i.e. our supervisors and the front line troops. The shop floor rumour mill has gone into creaking, shuddering overload.

Let me paint in a little background; up until a few months ago, the lower echelons got along (More or less) without a problem. Recently however this has changed.

From the top down it’s been all stick and no carrot. The pressure has been relentless. Veiled and not so veiled threats of disciplinary action for minor infractions. Constant checks on what you are doing and where you have been, no matter that you’re not doing anything wrong; arbitrary spot checks have become routine.

My own coping strategy has been to keep out of the office and mess room as much as is humanly possible; to stay away from the gossipmongers and backstabbers. If challenged, I am doing what I should be doing when I should be doing it. (and yar boo sucks to you pal!) Despite this, even I am under suspicion of bunking off, even though the reverse is true. I’m not surprised that the less mentally robust are crumbling under the strain. The numbers of people getting physically ill and having time off sick with ‘stress’ has shown a considerable increase. Instead of the occasional one, there’s been four or maybe five off work at any one time. Under the circumstances it’s no wonder we’re becoming short handed.

From my albeit limited experience, this is a massive danger signal in any organisation. Guys at the coalface always bitch and complain, it’s their privilege. There’s always a certain amount of grumbling, but of late these sources of disquiet have been shutting down. Now we’ve got to the point where certain people have begun to huddle in conspiratorial little groups. Certain others have been cut out of the loop and almost ‘sent to Coventry’. Where once there was a moderately ribald crew there is now a wall of whispers. Common pleasantries are not observed. They have been replaced with veiled suspicion and hostility; up and down the chain of command. We’ve stopped talking. Meetings have ‘closed agenda’s’, discussion of the obvious is being inadvertently suppressed.

An ugly rumour has begun to spread that the front line are being treated in this manner to pave the way for a private company to take over parking enforcement in our area. I do not want to be living here when that happens. If the people of our area think that we’re bad, they should wait until the ‘bottom line’ quota driven privations of a private company take over. However, this is purely rumour and surmise, with no obvious evidence to indicate that it is so.

My personal view; well as a keen and often enforced student of human nature out in the great laboratory of the streets, I prefer the ‘cock-up’ postulate to the conspiracy theory view. The conspiracy option seems to be the least likely. We are dealing with less than competent management who don’t seem to see what is right under their noses. They treat everyone with suspicion instead of grasping the nettle and using the chain of command to deal with the specifically erring elements. They trust the misinformation of a minority instead of talking directly to their workforce. They are becoming more remote. People are increasingly going straight to the Union instead of addressing the issues there and then, because the bond of trust that a workforce and their Management need to function has been foundering on the rocks of prejudice, suspicion, arrogance and rumour. From both ends of the argument.

I may be wrong; but long experience says otherwise and I do not care to get my head bitten off in public for stating the obvious.

Whichever is the case, I’m busy job hunting. TTFN.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

 

Weak end

Scene; The mess room, a rough walled concrete box, cream painted walls ‘decorated’ with lots of printed A4 E-mails threatening dire consequences to erring officers if they are not carried out. As if we care any more.

Dramatis Personae; Bill Sticker & one other Parking Enforcement Officer.

“Weekend? What’s one of those then? Bloody hell fire!” I looked at the shift rota with feelings of unaccustomed delight. I’m easily pleased.
“What’s up Bill?” One of the other lads asked.
“I’ve got a long weekend!” Yay!
“Yeah, so?”
“I’ve got a long weekend!” What doesn’t he get, or is this a wind-up?
“So what?”
“Four whole days without you cheerful lot and the miserable members of the public.” Yee-haw!
“Don’t sound so bloody cheerful about it.”
“Why not? I can spend a long weekend with my wife.”
“Is that all? You can spend it with mine if you like.”
“You’re not married.” Arse-head.
“Yeah, and?”
“Look you miserable old scrote, I’m just happy to get some quality time with my family when they aren’t at College, University or at work. I may even look for a new job.”
“Dream on Bill.”
“Balls to you too.” Here endeth the discussion.

The reason for my mild euphoria is simple; my next four ‘rest days’ are on a weekend which means Mrs S and I will be able to spend some serious quality time together, mend fences and generally chill in each others company. There may be very little blogging as well.
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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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E-mail address : billsticker at gmail dot com

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This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.

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