Thursday, December 2, 2010

I found a direction to write in

21 years is a long time, but I mostly ran out of anecdotes about passengers. I've got more than enough passenger material for a book, but most books are more than collections of anecdotes.

While watching one of the many cop reality shows on cable TV, I saw something interesting. Something that made me think of the new direction to write in. Did your mom and dad teach you about dealing with the cops when you were a kid?

There are a bunch of other skills you'll need if you're going to drive a cab for very long, I'll get to them too, but dealing with the police is the beginning. They have expectations of you. They expect you to know they're behind you, for instance. And if you've been driving too fast, or ran one of those "pink" lights, you might as well simply pull over before he turns the cherries on. You can always claim you needed to look at something in your papers if he acts like he doesn't know why you pulled over.

FIRST: When the cop reaches your window, you need to have your drivers license between your first 2 fingers, and your arm needs to be out the window, your hand up as far as possible. Your other hand needs to be on the top of the steering wheel. You should be calmly looking straight ahead. You assume this position as quickly as possible after pulling over. It doesn't matter if it takes the guy 10 minutes to walk up to the window, stay still, and maintain this position. He'll take your license from your fingers, look at it long enough to read your name, and the expiration date. He will then speak, you ALWAYS let him speak first. You should have been watching him walk up to the car in the mirror, he will assume you did. No matter what happens, you only answer him, and you speak calmly.

SECOND: He may ask if you know why he stopped you. This is an opportunity for you to either commit a crime, or make him seriously angry. If you tell him you committed some specific crime, like going 16 over; well you just told him you committed a crime, he needs to write you a ticket, and usually he will. If you tell him you don't know why he's stopping you, you're obviously lying to him, and he doesn't like that. Something like, I was probably going too fast, is about the limit of what I ever say. If he comes back with a direct question like, "Well, how fast?" I tell him I was looking at the road, not the speedometer, but I must have been going fast enough for him to want to talk to me about it. They usually give up at this point, and either write a ticket or scold.

In my personal car, they frequently want to 'look over' the vehicle. They don't know what they're looking for, but they'll know it when they see it. So, what happens is the guy who pulled you over waits for another cop to come in a second squad, and both of them approach the vehicle, one on each side. You hand should still be on the top of the steering wheel, and safest place for the hand you gave the license with, is right next to it. Being able to see your hands is real important to a cop. They'll look in the windows, and if you act the slightest bit nervous they'll want to search the car. Calmly look straight ahead, don't give them an excuse. If your care was messy in the first place, it will be VERY messy after they 'toss it'. If they're simply going to toss it, they won't bother asking for permission. Politely say you'd prefer that they not contribute to your messy car becoming even messier.

This will get changed a little, I decided that I'd present the anecdotes of police contacts in individual entries. Putting them into a single entry would make this way longer than I like.

When dealing with the cops in a situation other than a traffic stop, being nice goes a long way. I pulled into a precinct station in Chicago one night, and the guy smiled and said he couldn't help me collect my fare. I told him the fare was collected, what I needed was propane, could he tell me where I could find some at 4:00 am. He said he didn't know, but offered me a desk with a phone and phone book, and told me I could call around and try to find some. Very nice fellow. It solved my problem, I thanked him, went and bought my fuel, and drove back home.

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