In response to so many letters to the editor of Feather Publishing newspapers…
Can we finish up with the complaints about our local California Highway Patrol real soon, please? It’s getting tiresome and some of you are sounding like whiners. Really. Because there have been so few cheering for the CHP, allow me.
I’ve been driving the roads of Plumas County most of my adult life. That totals around 12 thousand days I’ve spent behind the wheel of a car, truck or motorcycle just here in Plumas County. For much of that time, I did floors all over Plumas 5, 6 and sometimes 7 days a week, which adds up to a heck of a lot of driving miles. I’m not the best driver and I don’t always follow every law, so consequently, I’ve been stopped by officers on a number of occasions through all these years.
Not once in my 44 year driving history, here and elsewhere, was I ever stopped because I didn’t do something wrong. Every single time I was doing something I shouldn’t have, something that endangered myself or others. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget that I don’t really have as much control behind the wheel of a three or four thousand pound vehicle as I think I do. I do like to think I don’t need many reminders, but when I do, the CHP is there to do just that.
My last ticket was about 3 years ago. Speeding – driving too fast while towing a trailer. It broke a personal best of 16 years without a ticket. I was upset because I felt I was driving safe. But the cop did his job because I wasn’t doing mine.
Even though there was a very long span between tickets, I had been stopped for infractions on a number of occasions. I firmly believe it was my attitude and demeanor that saved me from tickets I so deserved. I was not always aware of what law I broke, but I always knew when I was wrong. Infractions were always explained to me and I never denied committing any of them. As a professional in a different field of work, I knew that this professional prob’ly knew better than me. The customer is NOT always right. My feeling is that being humble and willing to learn from someone who knows better, saved me money, time and very well could have saved me or someone else from harm. I have always been grateful for warnings. After a little wound-licking, I have even found gratitude in a couple of real scoldings (I remember thinking once, please, just write me a ticket instead).
Things are a little different for me now. I spend more hours on my “handicap device” than I do behind the wheel of my car. I know I stick out like a sore thumb (it’s actually sore lungs) gliding around wherever I can on my Segway – standing straight up, seemingly balanced precariously between 2 wheels. But as visible as a 260 pound, 6′ 8″ man on two fat tires is, I can’t tell you how many auto drivers just don’t see me. California Vehicle Code considers me a pedestrian, which means I have to follow the rules any other pedestrian follows – and cars are s’posed to regard me as a pedestrian too, but they don’t always.
I rely on law enforcement, particularly the California Highway Patrol, to protect me because drivers don’t always know to let me glide across the street in the cross-walk or otherwise give me the right-of-way as they would any other pedestrian. My complaints are with drivers who don’t look carefully before entering an intersection. I don’t like it when people park right on the sidewalk. I don’t like it when drivers flip me off for gliding on the left side of the roadway, toward oncoming traffic.
I am where I should be, most of the time, and I try hard to follow the rules because my chosen mode of transportation is unconventional. That isn’t to say I want everyone to get a ticket for not letting me use the cross-walk, but I do appreciate that the CHP is there to let you know my rights and keep me and other mobility impaired people safe.
We should support our law enforcement and stop with the public ridicule. They aren’t politicians, they are men and women doing a very difficult job – not even to mention the enormous risk to health and life they face. No doubt they make mistakes, as do we all. I don’t know what I would have done if anyone had written to the editor about a bad carpet seam or a gap I left in the hardwood. A phone call is what it took to make those things right and I suspect that’s what might work when you feel an officer has done their job poorly.
If you feel changes to the laws and policies are in order, then take it up in the appropriate manner. Save those stories about your woes at the hands of lawless law men and women for your friends and associates that enjoy hearing them. Everyone likes a good cop joke, but this recent CHP bash-fest isn’t entertaining at all.
Let’s try to make the patrol officer’s job easier by practicing better driving habits. Report drunk drivers, call about road hazards and take a little responsibility to help make our roads and highways safer, cleaner and more fun to travel. And let those patrol men and women know you appreciate their helping your time on the road to be safer – give them a wave.