Category: Stupid People

Can’t We All Just Get A Better Thought Process?

“It’s bad enough that everybody coming into this courtroom has to walk underneath a banner that says: “Read Your Bible!”  Your Honor, I want that sign taken down!  Or else I want another one put up – just as big, just as big letters – saying “Read Your Darwin!”
“That’s preposterous!”
“It certainly is.”
– Inherit the Wind, 1951

One of the most irritating, fatuous sort of accusations and complaints that gets flung at the police department is religious in nature.

You've been warned.

Editor’s Note: Just so we’re clear, this is not about the merits of religion, my ideas on it, or your ideas on it.  It is, as usual, about people behaving badly and thinking sloppily.  So let’s leave the trollish commenting to the dunces who sit at home of an evening and rant on CNN stories and youtube videos, alright?  Onward.

Humans, being what they are, seldom want to accept the effects of their actions.  But I find it continuous funny that persons raised in religious traditions  often try to use religion (which presumably is supposed to teach them some idea of philosophical, cosmic cause and effect) to get out of the consequences.

“I hope you read the Bible tonight and think about what you’ve done.  God would be ashamed of you!”  one gentleman tries to dodge arrest after we collar him for taking pictures up girls’ skirts.
“You can’t keep me away from my wife, God put me in charge of her,” an abusive husband foams at the mouth after we serve him a restraining order.
“Would Jesus write me this ticket?” another woman demands fiercely after being caught parking in a handicap area.

Guys, you make me part these traffic jammed chariots one more time, I'm turning this exodus around! I am not kidding!

I’ve read the Bible (among other holy books of various traditions), and the whole first half of it is a pretty long list of rules and the assorted punishments and consequences that come from breaking them.  Honestly, I suspect that if he’d thought of it, Moses might have made taking pictures up ladies’ skirts punishable, perhaps by a light stoning?  And though I have not personally met him, I am absolutely positive that the Jesus of religious tradition would not have parked in a handicapped stall.  Ever.

Throwing religion around as an excuse for bad behavior is certainly nothing new (hi, Crusades!), but I’m constantly perplexed by the petty ways people try to use it.  Religion, boiled down to its very, very, bare bones, purely-behavioral-and-not-at-all-about-morality basics, is all about actions and consequences.  If you are jerk in this life, you’ll come back in the next one as a mongoose.  If you do not obey certain behavioral strictures, you will continue to be alienated from God and His chosen people.  If you do not seek after enlightenment, you will never achieve nirvana.  Etc.

Ergo, trying to use any values system that teaches cause and effect to dodge your earned consequences is bad logic.  Stop it.

Physics and Philosophy

“Lawless are they that make their wills their law.”
– William Shakespeare

 

It would be an absolute falsehood to say that I find working with law enforcement to be my ideal job or that it answers the immortal career longings of my soul, but working where I do has given me an appreciation for job that law enforcement officers do.  And trust me, it’s not always a pleasant one.

We had another police officer hit by a car last night while directing traffic because the driver did not want to do what he was being told to and purposely struck him.  Nearly every one of our police officers and student employees were threatened or cussed out at the last sporting event.  This boggles me.  Everyone acknowledges that we need police officers, that the work they do is vital to the running of society for the keeping of law and order, but everyone seems to hate them.  Resent them, even.

My theory about this is that nobody likes to be told that they cannot do what they want to all of the time.  Of course people want to drive as fast as they’d like, they don’t want restrictions on where they can park, and they don’t want to be caught when they steal something…but most of all, people seem to hate having to acknowledge (when they get caught doing any of these things) that what they have done is wrong – even when they have hit another human being with a car.  On purpose.

They are constantly stunned when there are repercussions to their actions, and even after two and a half years of working here, this attitude aggravates me.  Every two year old can throw a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way, but shouldn’t adults be able to acknowledge that having to wait in lines is part of life, and that screaming obscenities and threatening bodily harm may not be the way to deal with it?

When dealing with police, everyone wants to be the exception – can’t you just not report this, can’t you please just let me cut off those 300 people ahead of me, can’t you just let me get away with this once – and the answer is, “no.”  We can’t make you the exception because you are the 47th person to make that very request in the last hour and if we didn’t say yes to them we can’t say yes to you.  And if we do say yes to you, we can’t say no to the next 47 people who ask.

But people hate being told no.  They hate being told that cannot act in they way they want.  And often they refuse to examine the reasoning behind that negative answer; i.e., if I allow you to drive your car through a barricade and in front of a oncoming mass of vehicles you may get injured, and you may injure many other people.  Your actions affect other people, and police exist because so many of those actions or their ripple effects are harmful.

We’ve all had a bad experience with a the fuzz, but take a minute to honestly imagine a society without them.

(Sorry, kittens, but as you can see we’re dealing with some pretty wretched stuff at the department today.  Humor will shortly return.  Hopefully.  In the meantime, let’s all strive to be a little nicer and conscientious today, eh?  There are already plenty of jerks in the world, let’s not them win.)

Rudeness Most Foul

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
– Isaac Asimov

Definately human.

The interesting thing about working at a university is how much information, equipment, and expertise is available to you.  So when a plastic bag filled with large bones is found buried on the grounds, it’s the work of a moment to ask someone from Anthropology to come over and verify that they aren’t human.  Just in case.  Or, less professionally, when one is hungry, one can just scamper over to any of the cafes, food halls, or centers that provide sustenance for cheap prices.

Alternatively, using campus resources can often put one in an awkward situation.

In the library there is a very nice media lab where you can covert anything in any format to any other format you please.  Now I’m pretty technologically illiterate, but even I can appreciate that sort of thing.  And for the first time I got to use it yesterday when Lt. Citrus gave me a sack full of VHS tapes and told me to convert them to DVDs.  How neat, thought I, and off I trotted.

I got a crash course in using the towering masses of machinery and, after snatching a book to keep me company (another benefit of a university setting), I got to work.  There was a lot of loading/unloading tapes, keeping an eye on the screens, finalizing data, etc., but mostly it involved waiting for the tapes to run fully (which could last from a few minutes to a couple hours).  And I even watched a couple: guy holding an audience hostage because God told him he was supposed to be supreme dictator or Earth, rioting at football games, your average wierdos…you know, the usual.

However there was some pretty dark stuff too and when converting those I taped paper over the screens (because I am of the somewhat old fashion opinion that an individual’s personal tragedy is nobody else’s damn business).  During these tapes, I kicked back with my book until I was rudely disturbed but a gentleman marching up to me.

You've been recording investigation documents, vital to court proceedure, medical records, and department case archives, for entirely TOO LONG. You will now be punished!

“You’ve been here for a long time,” he accused.
“Yes, and I apologize, but I am working on something important on behalf of the University.  I’m nearly done.  Do you need the machines?”
“No,” he said snappishly .  “I just think you’re being inconsiderate taking up so much time.”
Not really prepared to handle this sort of time management vigilante-ism (side note – not one person had previously needed to use the machines or asked me when I would be done), I only blinked.
“You’re probably not even doing anything remotely important,” he continued, crossing his arms and turning up his nose.  “What are you working on?”
I felt an eyebrow climb at his tone but answered in a chipper voice, “Well I’m transferring a video taken from a homicide scene investigation.  Then I’ll have to transfer the autopsy tapes as well, care to watch?”

His eyes bugged for a moment and then he slunk off.

Like I said, the equipment and resources amassed here are fantastic, but the ability to see some people in all there snippy, self-important silliness might be my favorite part of my job after all.

Another Myth to Dispel

“Look, I am not stupid.”
– Terminator, 1984

I really am surprised and dismayed whenever it is reiterated to me that the general public thinks our department is staffed with morons.  I don’t know where this idea comes from – that anyone who works at/for a police department has the IQ of a deck chair – but really, can we let it go?

Now I admit, some of the officers aren’t the savviest when it comes to modern work practices regarding inter-gender relations, and common sense in administrative details is somewhat lacking, but I must say that they are damned good police officers.  I’d shift a few personalities around if I could, but I’ve never had any complaints about their actual skills and professional capacities.

So when you call up the parking office, asking us to remove a car from our records because you won’t be driving it anymore, we take pause.  Because, you see, we have access to your state records and your class schedule.  We can see that you live far enough away from campus that walking could be uncomfortable, we can also see that you are sill enrolled in classes.  We also know that, with your student parking privileges removed, the only place your car could park on campus would be a visitor lot.  And we know that you know that parking in visitor lots while still a student is forbidden.  And finally, we are able to guess that a man still enrolled in classes asking us to remove his parking privileges, while living too far away to walk to campus daily, might be trying to find a loophole for parking in visitor lots.

Most vitally, we know that checking visitor lots regularly for people who have already tried this trick hundreds of times, turns up at least half a dozen like minded people a day.  Here’s your ticket.  Also, I have a Twitter friend for you.

We’re not idiots.  And you’re not as clever as you think you are.  We really have seen it all before, and have prepared accordingly.

From the Frying Dumb Into the Stupid

“De mal en pire.”
– French saying

Dear World At Large,

Allow me to disabuse you of a seemingly common notion: the internet is not anonymous.  No really, it’s not.  Yes, there are steps you can take to protect your identity and privacy, but anyone who really wants to figure out who is posting those trollish comments at the bottom of a youtube video probably can.

From a police perspective, this anonymity myth is particularly funny.  We’ve had instances with theft that we’ve traced from Craiglist, and abuse of animal carcasses (not as kinky as it sounds) that we’ve tracked from Facebook. The bottom line is, if you do something wrong and then publish photos, accounts, or step-by-step instructions somewhere online, it is really easy to find you and punish you.

So, when a kid shared on Twitter that he was jumping curbs in his car to park in visitor and handicapped parking, it was the work of a mere moment to look up his name on the campus directory, see what car he drove, and slap a ticket on it.  And when he came in huffing and puffing about why he’d got a ticket because “he hadn’t done anything wrong,” it was immensely satisfying to tilt a computer screen at him to display his own confession, broadcast for all creation to see, and watch him turn 12 shades of red.

Truth is, dear World At Large, if you really are so silly as to tell everyone what you’ve done and where you are, do expect someone to show up and hold you accountable.  Because someone probably will.  And if you are really so narcissistic that you have to share every detail of your life, even your petty criminality with us, you have much larger issues to deal with.

Yours with love,
C.

Mob. Mentality.

“People are a problem.”
– Douglas Adams

As if we were not already desperately busy, especially with Fall semester looming, this is also when the University hosts a conference open to the public.  For a mere $44 dollars, you can come spend week going to classes about academic topics, theology, personal development, and probably basket weaving for all I know.  This wouldn’t be so bad if it were not for the people.

And we're not leaving without our commemorative mugs!

It is impossible to convey how boorish these invaders are.  You’d think they owned the place!  Office supplies go missing, we have to lock classrooms so that they can’t get in, they knock people down rushing to classes, they yell at everyone…genuine menaces to society.  However, it’s their propensity to complain about everything, usually consequences they’ve brought on themselves by their rude behavior, that really bleaches us of all sympathy.  Some favorite complaints:

I couldn’t find a parking space so I had to park in the road against oncoming traffic.
No.  You didn’t.  That’s like saying, “There were no cigarettes so I had to smoke crack.”  Not at all.  The circumstances are probably aggravating and cause withdrawals and make you irritable (not unlike frustration with parking), but the solution you propose is still illegal.

We paid good money to come to this conference, get out of our way!
We pay much, much more money to go to school here for four years.  Full time.  And do you think any of us get our way?

We paid good money to come here [again, please note $44], so we should be able to park wherever we want.
Hm…not really.  This is, in fact, a fully functioning university 365 days a year.  Which means that we have anywhere between 20,000 and 60,000 people here on a daily basis who are actually working and taking classes who need to park.  To put it simply, we trump you.  You are visitors, we are permanent.

We can’t find anything on this campus of yours.  Don’t you label anything? And where are we supposed to park?
Yes.  You will find them on those handy maps you were given on your first day.  And you can park in any one of the half-of-the-entire-campus-lots we took away from those mentioned in the complaint above this one and gave them to you to use.  For a week.  For free.  Ingrates.

The bishop encouraged us to come so, since the bishop sent us, you should give us food for free, because of the bishop.
This is not the parish potluck!

We drove a long way to come here, why can’t we leave our car in a handicapped stall?
I don’t care if the Vatican called you personally and declared all your sins would be forgiven if you invaded campus.  I don’t care if we get an email from Mecca declaring this the site of this year’s pilgrimage.  I don’t care if St. Thomas a Becket re-capitates himself and orders Chaucer resurrected to write another masterpiece about our humble university town.  You do not, under any circumstances, get to get away with such unpardonable behavior!

(Cutting in front of whole lines of people, including one in a wheelchair, to buy things at the campus store and then snapping at the people who ask you to move to the back of the queue, “We’re with the conference!”)
Who raised you?!

Things You Say That Will Make Me Doubt You

**Don’t forget to enter the Shabby Apple giveaway!  Winner announced tomorrow!**

Now, while some people come into our office and say things that are just plain silly, other people say things that are, literally, unbelievable.  From this week (and it’s only Wednesday morning):

“I have a doctor’s note.  Uh…from…um…a doctor!”  *

“I’ve, uh, locked myself out of my car.  Don’t have my keys.  Could you guys open it for me?”
“Can you prove ownership of the car?”
“Um, no.  Can’t you just shoot the trunk lock open for me?” **

“You don’t understand, you are going to do what I tell you.  Don’t you know who I am?” ***

* I am a rhinoceros.  One of us is lying.
** I’ll bet lunch someone finds a body.  Any takers?
*** No.  I don’t.  And since it’s my job to be painstakingly aware of all requisite movers and shakers, that ought to tell you something.

Things You Say That Will Make Me Laugh at You

“If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport.”
– Sign on Lauper’s desk

I am constantly amazed at some of the conversations that we, as a police department, get to be a part of.  Read on for a sampling of THIS week’s pearls of wisdom:

“My child’s backpack went missing at your university over the weekend.  I’ve checked the Lost and Found, all the custodial departments, and with his camp counselors.  What do you think happened to it?”
“Honestly, ma’am, I think it very likely it was stolen.”
“(Gasp!) Would someone do that?!” *

“I just thought that if I didn’t pay these tickets they would just go away.”
“Sorry, sir, that’s not correct.  If you don’t pay tickets they go to collections after a certain number of months.  That information is found both on our website and printed on the ticket you recieved.”
“Well, I still wasn’t going to pay them.  It was the principle of the thing.” **

“I’ve been driving around for an hour looking for your pink parking lots.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
“The pink parking lots!  They’re pink on your map, but I haven’t found any parking lots painted pink.”
“Ma’am, we only depict them in pink on the maps to distinguish visitor parking lots from all the other lots on campus, they are really just normal parking lots.”
“What do you mean?  This is false information!” ***

“So, on Craigslist we found a listing for a scooter that we’re interested in, but I wanted a police opinion first.”
“Go ahead.”
“Well, it’s listed for $50, the guy says he doesn’t have paperwork for it, and doesn’t even have a key for it.  Does that sound normal to you?”
“…?” ****

* Yes, ma’am, they would.  Which is why we have police departments.
** Congratulations.  Your principles, which apparently do not include being a law abiding citizen, have just ruined your credit score.
*** I don’t think we’re going to be able to help you.
**** Let me guess, the owner is Mr. Jean Boogaloo from Nigeria.

When the Tres Leches Rose Up Against The People

“‘Tis pleasant purchasing our fellow-creatures; And all are to be sold, if you consider Their passions, and are dext’rous; some by features Are brought up, others by a warlike leader; Some by a place–as tend their years or natures; The most by ready cash–but all have prices, From crowns to kicks, according to their vices.”
– Lord Byron,
Don Juan canto V, st. 27

Holidays are fun, regardless of nationality.  Take today: Cindo de Mayo.  Some people celebrate with chips and salsa, some with a fiesta, some with mariachi bands.  And some with bribery.

A certain student is banned from driving on campus.  This is due in large part to him accumulating up to four tickets in one day, parking in service/handicapped stalls, trying to fight our student officers, and claiming that he never received information that three people all told him (at the same time, in the same room together).  He was informed he had the ability to appeal the ban but would not be able to bring his car onto campus until a final decision had been made.  He said he understood and left.

Pictured: the filthy tool of corruption!

Today he came into our office, and asked for Red.
“You know about Cinco de Mayo, right?” he asked.  “It’s today.  So I brought you this.”
He held out a small packaged piece of tres leches cake with a meaningful expression.
“K, bye” he said quickly and hurried out.

Five minutes later we found his car in a non-student parking lot.

The real mystery here is, if he were trying to circumvent parking rules, why did he draw attention to himself by 1) attempted bribery and, 2) (and this is more perplexing) leaving his emergency lights flashing merrily away for over an hour?

How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  Or any holiday for that matter?

An Upstairs, Downstairs Drama

“It is folly to punish your neighbor by fire when you live next door.”
– Publilius Syrus

Those of you who remember this little fiend, will be happy to know that he has departed for grimmer and more diabolic realms.  Alternatively, you will be saddened to know that he has been replaced with something far, far worse:

Our new upstairs neighbors. 

Artist's rendering of the neighbor's parties.

Not only do they fight, constantly, at the top of their lungs, specifically at ridiculous hours of the the night, but they are also completely incapable of walking.  No, no.  They stomp.  Which makes our ceiling shake.  And they throw parties with loud friends in which they, as far as we can tell, practice riverdancing.  Or dropping bowling balls.   

The other night, when we were watching a movie, we heard the door above us slam and moments later the light fixture started rattling around.
“Ah good,” J. said, “Lord and Lady Stompington are home.”
Obviously all this PBS watching is starting to rub off on him!