Tuesday, April 11, 2006

 

In Which My Deputy and I Patrol the Mean Streets...



So I'm on the neighborhood watch for my little corner of Monopolis--Thomas calls me the sheriff of our neighborhood and even gave me his sheriff's badge to make it official. But when you're on the neighborhood watch--indeed, it seems when you're part of any homeowner's association--there are always certain issues that come up no matter where you live: one of them is how to enforce the 25 mph speed limits on residential streets. Another is how to enforce the law of curbing and picking up after your dog.

As you recall, my experiences with the latter led to some interesting exchanges with my neighbor. As for the former, in many ways it's a more worrisome issue, which I suppose is my karma. When I was young and foolish, I was fast and reckless. Police were the enemy I outwitted through combination of luck, pluck and a radar detector. And now here I am on the neighborhood watch, complaining about those damn kids (and more than a few brainless adults) racing up and down the street. My younger self's head would explode at the idea of it.

Much to my son's chagrin, and despite the sheriff's badge, my being on the watch committee does not empower me to arrest my neighbors when I catch them breaking the law. Granted, I can help coordinate special efforts with our Police Area Representative, an overworked police officer with the unfortunate name of Zoltan Peltz. For example, we got the use of one of those digital readout signs that's mounted on a trailer and displays the speed of oncoming cars. I've always felt that these were pretty useless, but in fact, what the police in our area do is spend a week or two moving the sign around to various high-traffic streets just to promote awareness. Then they spend another week or so reinforcing that initiative by increasing the number of patrol cars and speed traps in the neighborhood.

Otherwise, the most we can do as watch members is speak to our neighbors if we actually see them driving too fast. But our watch group is new and a little averse to confrontations with neighbors. Well, except for my large neighbor who works nights and roams the neighborhood on his evenings off, kind of like our own personal, down-at-the-heels Batman. Some nights, off in the distance, you can hear him yelling at passing motorists with cries of, "SLOW DOWN!" or "SIGN SAYS 25, MAN!!"

As for me, if I'm out walking or playing in the yard with the kids and I see somebody ripping along in their car, the most I'll do is give them the slow-it-down gesture: hand out flat and making pushing gestures towards the ground. We're told that most motorists recognize this as a gesture to apply the brakes, but actually doing it makes me feel like a bad mime pretending to dribble a basketball.

And evidently, not every motorist got the memo on hand gestures.

I discovered this myself the other night at dusk, when I was walking up Park Place, one of the main residential streets here in Monopolis. I was heading up the hill from the intersection and heard a roaring engine coming towards me. In a moment this sporty black car appeared over the hill and came ripping towards me. He had to be doing 60 or more.

I shot the driver a look of disdain and gave him the slow-down gesture. He roared right by. A second later, though, I heard the squeal of brakes behind me and the low whir of reverse gear as the car backed hastily up, weaving in the road as it did.

The driver was not some damn kid at all, but a guy around my age, with a mean, puffy face and a small shock of black hair on his head that was sticking straight up.

"The fuck is your problem?" he demanded, once his car caught up to me. He mimicked my one-hand-bouncing-a-ball gesture. "The fuck izzat?" Evidently he thought I was attempting some new rude gesticulation. Or maybe he just didn't like anyone telling him what to do.

In as mild and non-confrontational a voice as I could muster, I said. "Slow down. It's a 25 zone, man. You were doing twice that easy."

He gave me a derisive look that absolutely defined derisive looks. "The fuck are you? Officer Friendly? Mind your own fucking business!"

"It IS my business. I live here," I said. "My kids and lots of others play around here. There's a reason the residential zones have a 25 mile-an-hour speed limit."

"Yeah? Well if they're out in the street they deserve to get run over, you little faggot!" he cried. No, I don't know why he decided to shift from one f-word to another. Suddenly I felt like I was in high school again. Except that this guy was peripherally dissing my kids.

"You know what?" I said. "Forget it. Give it the gas. Hope you wrap yourself around a tree, do the rest of us a favor." Then I continued walking, up the hill and away from him.

"Hey, you little asshole!" he called, and I stopped, roughly 10 feet from him. "Maybe I'll wrap you around a tree. Fuck face."

Without ever looking at the guy, I reached behind me and gave him another hand gesture--not the slow-down one either.

That did it. I heard him put his car in park and start to open the door of his car.

"Loafer," I said mildly.

As soon as I said it, Blaze looked up from the bush he'd been sniffing (oh, did I forget to mention that I was walking with my dog? Yeah, I was) and lunged for the man who had one foot out of the car. Saying "loafer" to Blaze causes him to attack and remove your shoe, if he can. It's kind of funny in the house, when Thomas yells "Loafer, Blazey!" and the damn dog nearly knocks me down trying for one of my shoes. But on people who don't know my dog, I imagine it can have quite a startling effect, especially in the gathering dark, when a medium-sized black and brown dog can look fierce indeed, and most especially if he's growling.

The guy was back in his car in a half-second, swearing and cursing. He gunned his engine while Blaze barked at him, pulling on the leash with all his might. The guy roared off, his tail lights disappearing over the crest of the hill, as he headed for the intersection at full speed.

To be perfectly honest, while I was glad to avoid a fight and while I did feel the guy had overreacted A LOT, I confess I also felt a wee bit guilty.

I mean, maybe I should have told him that down there at the intersection, Officer Peltz was in his patrol car, on speed-trap duty.

"Nah," I said to my faithful deputy dog. "He'll find that out for himself any second now."

And indeed he did.


Yours,
From Somewhere on the Masthead


Comments:
The Wrench now does his part, standing on our driveway, and hollering at the teenagers who use our street as the straightaway in their personal speedway. No small irony there, either, as The Wrench was once known to the local constabulary as a "lead-footed" punk...

I'm gonna get Blazey a big old-fashioned "Deputy" badge to wear on his collar!

I wonder if the guy knew he had just been "loafer'd"?

:::still laughing:::

T. :)
 
Glad the neighborhood A-hole got what he deserved. Always nice when the long arm of the law shows up in the right place at the right time. Great story.
 
Sweeeeeeeet.

I live on a corner lot, and we have this yahoo that squeals to a stop at the corner and peels it onto the main road at the first opportunity. Why? Can somebody for the love of God tell me WHY???

Can I borrow Blaze for a day?
 
Wish my dog did that... I tell her to "Kill" or "Attack" and she just wags her tail.
 
Fuck yeah man!

I hate assholes in cars!

I will admit, I can be a bit hefty on the pedal from time to time, but I hate when dudes think they're The God Damn King, because they drive a mustang.
 
Now thats Deputy Dawg!

Hope it was an expensive lesson for that lead-footed-lunatic!
 
Awesome. I can't stand pissy drivers...especially ones who speed through neighborhoods where kids are playing.
Colleen--
In my neighborhood there is this 16 year old kid who does the exact same thing you described. Apparantly he does it to cause car alarms to go off. It seems this amuses his pea-brain.
I too, wish I could borrow Blaze!
 
What a jackass! I'm glad he got what he deserved. (Ok, so he's probably not going to have to enroll in a how-to class for common courtesy, but a speeding ticket's a start...)
 
Reminds me of when I was younger and more impetuous.

There was this kid who kept speeding down my little side street in Dorchester in a black Mustang. One day, I'd just had enough. He had screeched around the corner and I could hear him screeching around another corner and I thought he might be making a circle back, as he often did. I went into my backyard, where we had a big pile of cinder blocks that we were building a wall with. I picked up one of the cinder blocks and went back out to the sidewalk and waited.

Sure enough, he he comes again. I ran out into the middle of the street with the cinder block raised above my head. The intent was clear: Either he slows down or he gets the cinder block through his damn windshield. His brakes screeched and he came to a complete stop about ten feet in front of me. He jammed it into reverse and backed out and that was the last I ever saw of him.

Yeah, I would have put it through his windshield because I was a damned fool in those days, but it worked without having to do so, thank God :-)
 
My friend, how is it that you live your life in a series of great little adventures that are perfect for storytelling? I do try to blog intelligent posts about my life but most days it would be "sat at computer. worked. watched boats go by. drank two cups of coffee. peed three times. worked out. went to bed." I think I need a life.

GREAT story!! I love it.
 
Haha~ You and suldog are badASS. And straightpoop, I hear ya. It's hard to blog when you read MM's posts everyday.. everything else seems boring in comparison. =)
 
The same thing just happened to me this weekend. I'm convinced that nice weather makes guys in their teal green Trans Ams drive faster and more recklessly. I told one to SLOW DOWN this weekend and he hit the brakes, backed up and told me this is his neighborhood, too. I then told him to respect it, and hoped my husband was coming outside fast because this guy clearly didn't like a woman advising him to watch his speed. My dog died a few weeks back so no canine deputy to back me up.
MM, you make it difficult for me to blog my drab life, but I'm finding inspiration with this one.
 
In my town the kids like drive-by mailbox bashing, so we got a mailbox which looks ordinary, but is made of sheet steel 1/8 inch thick.

On warm nights when the windows are open we sometimes hear " smash smash smash smash OUCH!"

We have the only mailbox on the street that doesnt need replacing every year or two. And it still looks good, since we cleverly chose black paint, which matches the primer underneath. that way when they chip the paint it doesnt show.

Love those ouches.
 
Great story, MM :D And you too, Suldog!
 
I love that your life -- or the way you present your life, anyway -- has such...form. Nothing seems to trail off; there's always a clear beginning and middle, and often a rather dramatic end.
 
Do NOT feel guilty. If anything, I'd say you should have waited until both his feet were clear and he was starting to stand up. That way he couldn't dive into the relative safety of his car that easily. But, then again, I can be a sadistic bastard.

BTW, your neighborhood watch stories (including your dog-poop confrontation tales) are my faves. Keep 'em coming!
 
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