Every year at this time schools run an awareness safety programme when it comes to dropping off and picking up kids. I understand and applaud this. However the other day I was parked directly across from St Heliers School, yes the very school that has recently run Jesus out of town, to pick up my little girl.
The parking space was tight and my rear bumper was a bit over the far edge of the driveway, but it wasn't actually over the driveway, the driveway entrance was perfectly clear. My bumper was aligned with a bush that framed the driveway and the people who lived there had just driven into their driveway in a truck while I was parked there with no problems.
A traffic warden was walking up and down the street and he passed me several times without taking any notice of me so I felt I was okay. At one point I even called out to him: "Hey buddy, am I okay parking here?" He totally ignored me. So again I'm thinking I'm okay. I'm not double-parked, I'm not blocking anyone, I'm not even on the school side but across the street.
Then I see him in my rearview mirror taking a picture of my car so I know I'm going to get ticketed. I hop out of the car and ask the guy: "What's the story?" He proceeds to show me where my bumper is a bit over and how they're having a safety programme etc. I said I understand that but why were you walking back and forth without saying anything to me?
He said: "Because I was waiting until it was 10 to three when the school safety rules come into play." I stood there gob-smacked. In America that would be "entrapment" and against the law. Here I don't know all the particular rules, but I do know that what this warden did playing a waiting game and ignoring me is not in keeping with the spirit of the safety programme.
He could just as easily have said to me that I was a bit over the line or you can't park like that and I would have moved.
Again in no way was I posing a danger or traffic problem or any congestion in any way. One would think that if this warden was serious about providing a safety net for the kids when they got out of school that he'd be clearing obstructive vehicles well before they could endanger the kids. But, oh no, this guy was just salivating at the mouth until the time that he could legally give me a ticket. I have absolutely no problem in getting a ticket if I've broken the law. But, this was not a fair cop. This was, in the end, a game and what rankles is the warden's attitude.
He couldn't have cared less about safety, to him it was all about being the man in charge writing tickets. Of course in a court of law he would be found to be in his legal rights in issuing that ticket. But, in the spirit of fair play it just wasn't in the spirit of the campaign. It wasn't cricket and that folks is why we hate traffic wardens.
John Dybvig is a former basketball coach and broadcaster.