This has to do with more than parking issues. The way we handle personal responsibility in this country is really screwed up: all the way to the highest office. Imagine when any politician who is being investigated tries to blame everyone else on social media, and otherwise get in the way of the investigation, if some media traffic cop was able to issue citations that could lead to passing a certain percentage of campaign funds from their party on to furthering the investigation; a fine if you wish. That’s one of the many ways this concept could be extended.
I keep an archive of columns that may never be published. Once in a purple moon, like entering that warehouse at the end of the Indian Jones movie, I go through that archive and find something unique, dust it off and, well, see what you think…
When I started acting, after a brief time as the Mikado and a snobby hotel manager, I kept finding myself tossed into the role of cop. There are many things I wanted to be growing up, but policeman was never really one of them. Not that I have issues with the profession, it’s just not a role I ever felt that suited to on stage, or in real life.
Finally I was chosen for the role of group manager and concert promoter. My stage-only law enforcement career ended. But if I ever actually had become a cop, these days I would wish I was a parking lot cop. I know: almost no one does that, or at least not from what I’ve observed. But they should.
I would watch for people backing up out of parking spaces. While, occasionally, I might ticket someone who just tossed it in reverse and stomped on it, I think most of my tickets would be for the other driver. I have seen far too many idiots speeding through lots while on cell phones, texting, or just ignoring the person backing up. So the person backing up wouldn’t get the ticket, the idiot on the cell phone, texting, or looking at the buff guy, the sexy lady, would. Yes, even if they are looking for their kids. Hey, their first duty is driving. You want to multitask? Well, if you can’t handle both you probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
I would promote personal responsibility with tickets. I know: I wouldn’t last a week. Too many powerful people rely on the law being skewed to protect the self absorbed.
People who tow their children by the hand while ignoring all that’s happening might get picked up for child endangerment. If there’s a kid in the car that’s two cases of child endangerment.
I sincerely feel legislators, insurance companies and law enforcement intentionally go down the wrong way, one way street, when legislating, when enforcing. If someone is turning left out of a business and gets hit: if you look at it logically, it’s not always the fault of the person crossing traffic. People do crazy, insane, dangerous things no person crossing traffic could predict. But legally it is the fault of those who cross in many states. I remember a lawyer telling me, in Georgia, that the law is so strict one of her clients was hit by a speeding drunk with a suspended license who had been on a cell phone. The judge said, “Yes, but if your client hadn’t pulled out there wouldn’t have been a problem,” then ruled against her. As a judge I would have tossed that other driver in prison for a long, long time, and made him pay restitution. Rewarding bad behavior is just plain stupid, counter productive and bad lawmaking.
Here is what I think is happening…
A policeman who arrives on the scene knows he, or she, wasn’t there when it happened. Obviously the insurance companies adjusters weren’t there at the time. However, while an actual investigation might reveal what really happened that takes time and money. Formula justice saves time and money: make a law, or rule, that automatically blames one party. Then they can move on feeling smug that they’ve done their duty when they may have done anything but…
Easy? Yes. Actual justice? Too often, hell, no.
And, just to ask what should be an obvious question regarding more recent (in my lifetime) parking lot behavior, what the hell ever happened to “look both ways,” or “watch out for traffic?” I spent over 30 years on the road and, over the past 15 years, I have seen increasing bad behavior: especially in parking lots… often tied to cell phones and texting, but not always. No sane person would consider any of this to be safe parking lot behavior.
Why should anyone who just walks behind a backing up car, or drives behind the same a few inches away from their bumper, get away with that kind of negligence? Why should the driver who is backing up have to have to worry about such idiotic behavior from adults? While backing up vision isn’t always at it’s best, depending on how old your vehicle is and what equipment it may have. Until every car has to have a back up cam I think it’s the fault of those who are being careless, at best. Even then: why do it? You can wait 5 seconds: if nothing else it’s practicing sensible safety behavior.
At Sportsplex, in Nashville, a while back, I was driving past the fitness center, a car passing the other way. A father stopped his car, got out and looked at the door I was driving past. The father made a motion and suddenly a boy ran like hell out the door, right in front of my moving car. The father smiled, gave his son a loving pat on the back, and they drove off. If I had been ten seconds earlier, well, child pate’?
The 10 year old I can give somewhat of a pass. Kids do thoughtless, irresponsible things sometimes. The father? No pass. I blame him. But the justice system, as it exists today, probably would have blamed me. While there are laws are out there I could help enforce, as a society we’re just too intent on relying on simplistic auto injustice.
One of the many reasons why, if I were a policeman, I’d want to be a parking lot cop.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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