Monday, January 13, 2014

Stop Sign

Because it is winter and due to time change to Pacific Standard Time, it becomes very dark in the evenings in California.  In the streets, 7 PM looks and feels like midnight.
 
Yesterday evening, my wife gave a list of groceries to buy and asked me to go to Safeway (a grocery store chain).  So, at about 8:20 pm, I leave my house in my SUV.  After 5 minutes of driving, I stop at the STOP sign.  It was pitch dark.  No one was in the street.  No pedestrian.  No other car.  Still, I came to a full stop. Then proceeded to drive.
 
I could immediately see in my rear view mirror a police car.  But he did not flash his headlights which is an order for me to stop my car.  Therefore, I kept driving.  I knew he was after me because he did not try to overtake me.  He followed me for a full 2 minutes.  Then, flashed his car’s headlights.
 
I then pulled my car to the right and stopped my car.  My hands on the steering wheel all the time.  That is what required when the police stops you.  In USA, police officer will take about 5 minutes to get out of his car and approach you.  He will not get out of his car immediately.  In those 5 minutes, he will get all the details about the car and its owner from his computer through your car license plate number.
 
He got out of the car.  The police officer is more afraid of you than you afraid of him.  He walked slowly and stopped at the back seat of the opposite side (right side). He had a flash light and asked me to roll down the back right side window.  I roll down the window.  Now he sees me and confident I am not a criminal with a gun and therefore comes to the front seat at the passenger side.  Asked me to roll down the window.  I did.  Here is the conversation:
 
                                                                     (Google Image)
 
Officer:  Sir, do you know why I stopped you?
 
Me:  I don’t know.
 
Officer:  Sir, at the stop sign, you did not stop your car behind the line.  Your car stopped after crossing the line.
 
(My mind was thinking – What the F? Is this a big crime? Have you been waiting in the cold dark night just to catch me crossing the line and stopping my car at the stop sign? Hey, you should be happy that I did stop my car at the stop sign.) (But my brain is saying – Don’t show your smartness to the police officer.  If he wants to, he can give you all sorts of trouble.)
 
Me:  Is that so officer?  I am sorry I did not notice that.  I will be careful in the future.
 
Then he gave a 3 minute lecture about how these laws are for my own safety.
 
Officer:  Sir, can I see your Driver’s License.
 
I gave him my Driver’s License.  He said please wait and I will be back.  He goes to his car to check if I have any arrest warrant against me.  He comes back after 3 minutes and gives my driver’s license back.
 
Officer: Please drive safely and that too in this weather.  Where are you going? Any drinking plans today?
 
Me:  I am going to Safeway.  I don’t know if I have a drinking plan or not.
 
Officer:  You can go now. Please be careful.
 
I start my car and go to Safeway – cursing him all the way.  At the same time happy that he did not give me a ticket.  Just a warning and lecture only.  If he had given a ticket, that would be considered a “moving violation” and raise my car insurance fees.

38 comments:

  1. Ummm…that’s it?
    That’s all that happened between you and that cop?

    You’re a sissy for not confronting him!
    I’d never hesitate to tell a cop what I’m really thinking.

    Regards,
    Rodney King

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  2. Thanks for your comments Rodney. You are one lucky dude. Some nearby resident videotaped the entire episode when 2 police officers were beating you. They were sent to prison and you got $3.8 million as compensation from the Los Angeles Police Department.

    Why can't we all just get along?

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  3. I admire the police system there, they are so diligent, I have been unable to understand from where they suddenly come out whenever their is a violation of rules.

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  4. hahah! and here, on the contrary,one can drive the way he/she likes...there are practically, no rules and if you get caught, having crisp notes (for bribing) come handy and not the license!

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  5. Thanks for your comments Renu. This is the fact. They hide behind trees or walls and observe the traffic.

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  6. Thanks for your comments Ankita. Here in USA, anyone can drive. Even a 90 year old woman can drive safely. But in India, it takes some special skill to drive. Whenever we visit India, our relatives and friends ask us several times to drive so that they can see how we drive. We always politely refuse because we are afraid. When they visit USA, they are in awe of this saree clad woman (LG) zoom through the highway at 90 miles (145 km) per hour. (Saree clad for going to the Livermore Hindu Temple.)

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  7. Very interesting weblog...so you miss India ever? Cause here no one fears the traffic police, sadly though!

    www.numerounity.com

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  8. Here, whether it is our mistake or not, he will charge and most of the time we have to pay him without a receipt!

    No excuses even if it is pitch dark?

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  9. I may or may not like the US.
    But,what I like about Americans is their commitment to America.
    You have to believe your eyes when you watch violation of traffic rules in India.
    It might interest some,we have one policeman per 8.7km of road.....It speaks volumes

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  10. Haa SG. That was one interesting encounter!

    I recall an incident when we were driving down from LA to San Jose on 31st night and 1st morning. I was the navigator and my friend driving. While exiting the freeway; my friend slightly crossed the lane while approaching the ramp. It was dark and cold. Just 200 mts away from our hotel; we were stopped. While the cop did his routine checks and questioning the driver (my friend); I was looking at the cop and admiring him. He was handsome! :-)

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  11. So much for stopping across a line? I'd love to see the way would react if he were in India.
    But you were right in not trying to question him or try to sort out things, in my opinion.

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  12. Thanks for your comments Ekta. I have seen that in India.

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  13. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. Money talks.

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  14. Thanks for your comments Mr. Chowla. I want to narrate an incident that happened several years ago. When Ronald Reagan was Governor of California, he was traveling from Sacramento to San Francisco. His entire convoy (his limousine with him in it, several motor cycle police bodyguards and a few other cars) was stopped for speeding by a California Highway Patrol Officer. Each and every driver was given a speeding ticket.

    Would like to see Jayalalitha’s convoy being stopped for speeding by a police inspector. HaHaHa.

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  15. Thanks for your comments Insignia. You can see extra police in the street on new year eve. Too many drunk drivers. So that cop was not a "donut" cop!

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  16. Thanks for your comments Ashwini. You are correct. It is better not to show the cop you are more intelligent/smarter than him. If he wants to he can create trouble for you.

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  17. Ahh Good. You didnt get a ticket. There is also this thing about coming to complete stop, right. My husband two tickets on that. :)

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  18. Thanks for your comments Dil. I am sorry your husband got 2 tickets doing "California style" stopping at the stop sign.

    One thing many people do not know is if you decide to fight the ticket in a court, the police officer who wrote you the ticket must be present physically in the court. If he does not show up, the judge will dismiss the case. Often times, they do not show up.

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  19. Good to know that you did not get a ticket and just a warning. One of my friends got a ticket just because his wheel was on a solid line at a signal.

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  20. Thanks for your comments Ash. Sometimes these cops go overboard.

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  21. If this had happened in India, it would surely have involved a bribe. Heck, it would have been done for a bribe.

    Fortunately, we don't have visible stop lines at many places (or) there are so many vehicles stopping beyond the stop line that the traffic police becomes too confused about whom to stop :P

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  22. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. Unfortunately, traffic rules are not followed in India, especially in Chennai. My tourist cab driver goes in the opposite direction in a one way traffic. When asked, he said "parava illa sir. Samalichukalam." (It is ok sir. We can manage.)

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  23. Ah..!! The American police officers might get shocked to see our Indian Traffic police in action ( or inaction)

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  24. Happy Pongal SG!!
    Good you got only a lecture otherwise it would have given you some sleepless nights.

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  25. Very impressive... the laws and the law enforcers too! For such violations here, the traffic police would catch us only when they want to make money!

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  26. Thanks for your comments Meera. You are absolutely correct. They will get shocked.

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  27. Thanks for your comments Chitra. Happy Pongal to you and your family. If he had give me a ticket, that would have raised my car insurance rate.

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  28. Thanks for your comments Shilpa. One thing I have noticed here. Police officers are always very respectful when they catch someone. Unless you want to be a smart alec.

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  29. Good that you were let off without a ticket.

    Here in hyderabad where you can put left indicator and turn toward s right, no cop comes to stop you( actually it is a hyderabadi lifestyle and nobody bothers) but there are cameras at many busy junctions.

    You get challaned when you think there is no cop around and jump the signals at nights or when it is crowded. The funniest part is you will know you are challaned only when you check your car registration details in the RTO online directory

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  30. Thanks for your comments Asha. Your comments gave me an idea to write another post. Thanks Asha. I don't know about India. In USA, indicator signal light is just only a courtesy to your car behind and not the LAW. Police Officer will not stop and give you a ticket for that. Laws are different in different countries.

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  31. no. it is not a law here too, but it is road rule violation. violating these rules could lead to accidents.

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  32. I felt like reading a horror story in the beginning... :) Well narrated :)

    Regards,
    Sindhu
    Tantu
    The Arts & Me

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  33. Well you really were lucky SG, I guess the fact you were alone went in your favor, such a stop with a group riding with you might have made him reach out for the ticket... In portland the fog adds to the driver's head ache...

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  34. Thanks for your comments Asha. You are right. Rule or not, wrong side signaling will lead to accidents.

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  35. Thanks for your comments Sindhu. And, thanks for your complements.

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  36. Thanks for your comments Reshma. Tell me about Portland and fog. Such a head ache. We lived in Salt Lake City for 5 years. Snowed 7 months in a year. Snow is beautiful to watch in movies, photos, or if you are inside home. If you are driving it is treacherous.

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  37. There are number of funny stories about the traffic police of US. In India the driver would jump out the car ready for a fight with the officer, or start pleading innocence, or worse would offer bribe. However, once they are in the US, they learn to behave, and follow the rules(the 1st rule to be seated in their car)
    The thing is the cops themselves are frightened, it is so funny to watch such things in youtube.
    Good you were left alone.
    I know there too officers would be parked hiding behind bushes at places they know they would find many bakraas breaking the rules and then suddenly come behind them and give them the tickets.
    Some smart people know this and they drive properly and avoid the ticket.

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  38. Gosh ! Imagine this happening in India. Neither the driver nor the police would have bothered. Ya police wud have issued challans for idiotic reasons. Most of them who actually don't follow traffic rules stay happy away from all the mess. Where as those who follow face the wrath

    Good that u jst had to bear the lecture :)

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