Monday, August 20, 2007
The Mouse That Roared
Parking on the sidewalk -- gimme a break
The town I grew up in has about 16,000 people. It's on the fashionable side of the expressway. The town I live in now has about 30,000 people. It's on the casual side of the expressway. In between, squeezed into a little pocket next to the forest preserve and the golf course on one side of the expressway and a high school on the other side is a third, pocket-sized town of about 4,000 people. Along with an equal number of cops.
To get from where I grew up to where I now live, the most direct route is to go through the little town that's in between. To get to the highway from either direction the fastest way is through that same little town. To get to the tollway from the highway -- you know the drill.
For the most part getting from one of those places to any of the others can only be accomplished by using the one main road through the little town.
On my side of the little town the road is usually four lanes wide. Same with the other side. But when it goes through the little town itself, the road shrinks to only two lanes. If someone wants to turn left into a neighborhood, the road gets backed up for freaking ever. And woe to those who try to go around by using the gravel shoulder. Or those who try to hurry up to gain any lost time. The cops are waiting for you. Always waiting.
For some reason, the people who live in the little town refuse to make their part of the road wider. I've heard that's because they want to preserve that small town feeling. The only town that comes to mind is Las Vegas. Especially late at night on the weekends, when the road is lit up like a stripper convention with all the flashing red and blue lights.
Personally I think they just want to annoy everybody who has to drive through their charming little road to revenue. Never mind the inconvenience to a multi-national company that employs hundreds of people right outside the city limits. Or the extra time it takes to get to the high school.
On the other hand, based on their reputation for writing more tickets than any other town in the area, the police seem to like the arrangement.
Friday night there was a varsity scrimmage at the high school previously mentioned. I have lived in the area long enough to know how to take back routes to avoid going through the main drag where most ticketing takes place. But this time they had a surprise for me.
Most of the parents who came to watch their kids at the scrimmage parked in the parking lot about a block from the field. I parked on the apron of a driveway that no longer went anywhere, next to a short sidewalk that leads to the high school tennis courts. I had stuff to carry and that location was much closer to the field. Besides there were no signs that said I couldn't park there. So I parked there.
$25 tickets for everyone. Even the parents who parked in the parking lot. Payable within ten days. I was cited for parking on a sidewalk, even though, except for the bumper of my car, I was on the apron. I don't know what the other parents got their tickets for, since they were actually parked in what has always been a parking lot, but I'm sure the town fathers have something on the books to prove that parking in a parking lot is illegal.
So I went to the police station the next day. Not to pay my ticket -- no no no -- but to request a court date. They don't even give you that option on the ticket. You have to go in and request it.
I then drove around the little town and took photos of all the people parking like I did or worse, blocking the entire sidewalk. I finally stopped taking pictures and just started writing down addresses. Now I have to figure out a way to tell the judge to give me a break. Without calling the cop an overzealous jerkwad.
The parents who parked in the parking lot were more ticked off than I. Shocked, dismayed. Bitter. But I bet they'll just pay the fine to be done with it. Not me, of course, that would be WAY too easy.
September 5th, 10:30 AM. Room 306. Be there or be square.