When I was a Traffic training officer I was called into the bosses office. He was seriously concerned about a new officer. A “draftee,” ordered to work in our unit.
“I’m really worried about this guy,” he said. “He is an excellent officer in the unit he is coming from but he absolutely hates the idea of working in Traffic duties. I am afraid he just may screw up a good career by developing a poor attitude while working here. I would like you to take him out on the road with you for a few days and introduce him to … ”
“The Pristine Beauty of Traffic,” I interjected.
“Yes!” he said with a more relaxed smile. “To the pristine beauty of Traffic! “
The next afternoon I greeted the gloomy faced officer in my office. “I know you’re the hired gun Lymburner,” he quickly shot out at me, “but I don’t like Traffic work and I don’t like Traffic cops. So don’t waste your time. I’ve already got my transfer in to the Sergeant at the desk.”
“Okay, okay!” I said, “I’m the Training officer here and part of my job is to help new officers orient themselves to the station and the work expected of them. I haven’t got any rank over you so we might as well act like friends and just hit the road.”
First order of the afternoon was the nearest coffee shop. So, with myself at the wheel, off we went for our first quest of the day.
En route to the perk-up of the day we stopped at a traffic light beside a very striking young lady in a sports car. My glum faced partner suddenly rearranged the comers of his mouth and commented about the very obvious physical attributes of our fellow motorist.
“This requires further investigation,” I added as I activated my roof lights and motioned her to pull to the side of the road. I left my now smiling partner at the rear right comer of the sports car as I approached the young lady and received the appropriate documents. Returning to my scout car a now very interested partner began to review the essentials on the drivers licence as I retrieved my summons book.
“What’re you doin?” he asked.
“Writing a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt,” I responded.
“What! I didn’t see that… you mean you saw that woman and the onIy thing you could see was that she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt… and now your gonna give her a ticket!”
“Wow… everything I heard about you traffic cops is true then. You’d do your own mothers wouldn’t you!”
“Not any more,” I responded wryly. “My mother learned to wear her seatbelt after I gave her just one ticket. Some of the guys tell me theirs took at least two or three.”
After doing the honours on our now not-so-polite “Madonna” we continued on our quest for coffee. The conversation in the car was considerably reduced.
One more traffic stop for a grey-haired gentleman for failing to stop for a stop sign and another seat belt violation and we pulled into the coffee shop for our fill-up.
“Okay!” my partner broke the silence and took one more draw on his cup. “You’ve got me curious. What makes you guys tick? I’d really like to know what goes on in the heads of Traffic cops.”
My moment had arrived.
“First let me get this straight about you Divisional guys. You would never give a ticket to that pretty woman with the smiling face, right?”
“Well… that’s right. We save the chincey tickets for the bad guys. You know the jerks that really cause trouble in the area.”
“Okay then. That means whenever a bad-guy gets into an accident in your area he walks away from the accident and all the pretty girls get mutilated faces from hitting the windshield. Have I got that straight?”
His face stared at me for a moment as the message sank in. We finished our coffee and returned to the scout car. The radio announced the need for a traffic car at a serious accident. We responded and arrived to see a truck slammed into the front corner of a small car. The woman driver was bloodied but conscious and four firefighters were trying to cut away the dash from around her legs.
As we drew nearer an ambulance paramedic took out his scissors and cut the seat belt going across her chest. We looked inside the rear seat and saw a crying toddler in an infant seat being attended to by another paramedic.
I looked at my partner who had not said anything since the coffee shop. “Ten years ago, before seatbelt laws, I would be pulling a dead mum and child out of this car. When I give out those tickets I’m just one of life’s referees. I have to be the bad guy so the good guys can survive. You know something? It doesn’t bother me at all.”
We returned to the station and as I walked to my office I glanced back at my partner. He was at the front desk talking to the sergeant and getting back his transfer request. “I think there might be more to this traffic stuff than I thought,” he said.