Wednesday, June 20, 2007

11. its a record

A good day today - placed in Central all on my lonesome so I wasn't expecting anything much. It all started slowly enough with 4 from the Station area, then, when I got back to the town centre and started logging valves, I started picking up the odd PCN from Disabled bays. By midday I had issued 16 tickets, 10 of them Disbaled Bay abusers, and was rather looking forward to taking the rest of the day easy.

No chance - after lunch I was still tripping over tickets left, right and centre so that by the time I headed back to the office I had issued 27 PCNS - a record for me. I have absolutely no idea why it happened that way today, either the drivers were being particularly reckless or I was just being super efficient (unlikely that one). Still, with todays haul plus the last couple of days I'm so far ahead of quota that I think I can not issue at all for a few days and still hit the weekly target. Oddly, I have the feeling that those higher up won't wear that one, but I'm certainly going to take it a bit easier for a while - no sense in burning myself out for no reason whatsoever.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

10. Treat me Nice

I found myself paired up with Barney today as we are short staffed again - so we had to do "The Tour" - basically 2 hours Central, 2 West and 2 East and all points between. The morning started well enough with a quick 4 PCN's down in the commuter belt round the stations - when will they learn that we patrol there all the time. I then hit the town centre, noted a load of 30 min valves and just strolled around making a nuisance of myself while waiting for Barney to finish the Aztech run and join me.
When the va;ves times were up, I headed back to see if I had any scores and blow me if there weren't 6 overstayers all in a line - what a result - my daily 'target' completed in under 2 hours. I started to issue when my Hand Held just gave up the ghost - no way could I get it back working again so I had to lose those issues and head back to the office. Just to add insult to injury I passed some 2 hour valves I'd taken when I first arrived and there were another 2 tickets there that I couldn't do anything about - not a happy girlie, trust me on that.

An hour or so later and I'd swapped my knackered HHC for another hopefully fully working one and was back Central for tha last 35 minutes. I picked up a quick pair at one of the arcades then headed for Austen St where you can often grab a few on the SYL. Sure enough I had a customer there so did the necessary and was just about to slap it on the screen when the driver returned. When in this situation I tend to play it by ear - I'm more than happy to VDA the ticket (ie mark it down as a driveaway before I could put the ticket on) if the driver isn't a complete bitch/bastard to me - it's no skin off my nose really. Anyway:-
"Oh FFS - I've only been here 2 minutes" - not going too well to start
"I'm sorry sir but ......"
"You bloody jobsworths are all the same"
"But I ...."
"I had to park there because some arse has parked in my space out back"
"But Sir if ...."
"2 effing minutes - thats all I was gone, 2 effing minutes" - quite possible as 2 minutes is all the grace he gets
"If you would just ..."
"You effing people are all the same - get the tickets quick just to increase your bonus" - a common misnomer - WE ARE NOT ON A BONUS SYSTEM
"RIGHT SIR, if you would just take a breath and let me get a word in edgewise - NO - just keep it shut for a minute. I was about to say that you are given 2 mins grace before we issue the ticket and I did not see you at all in that period or I would not have issued the it. As you are probably aware, the PCN is only valid if it is on your windscreen or handed to you - if you drive away before I get the ticket on the screen you escape scot free"
"You lot just want to get as many tickets as you can" - what an arse
"Oh sod this - I was quite prepared to write this down as one that got away but you've blown that now - please accept this PCN and enjoy the £30 fine"
With that I stuck the PCN on his screen and started photoing it as he stood there with his big mouth wide open. All completed I smiled sweetly at him, turned on my heels and sauntered off with a yell of "BITCH" echoing in my ear - score one for little miss perfect :)

Shortly after that I met up with Barney to continue "The Tour" which proved pretty uneventful - I wound up with a total of 12 (top score for the day - big deal) but the Austen St ticket was the most satisfactory. Rantin and raving at a PA never helps - keep your cool (so hard I know), try to be polite and there is a chance things will go your way - I've lost count of the amount of tickets that I've VDA'd (dodgy) or even removed from the screen (a total nono) if the 'punter' is nice or gives me a good sob story.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

9. Miss popular (with the public)

It's been an odd week, very warm, far too humid, bits of rain and hardly any grief at all. The 'on street' situation East has been relatively quiet - a very good turnround on the 60 or so free 1 hr bays, in fact I only issued 6 PCN's for overstaying all week (normally do more than that in a day), however, quiet a dramatic increase in "beyond the bay markings" and Disabled Bay offenders. The 24 contravention (beyond the bay markings) is so contentious as being parked slap in the middle of 2 bays is never the drivers fault - it is always the fault of the inconsiderate git that forced them to park that way in the first place. For that reason I try and get the ticket on and away from the scene as fast as I can as any rows are normally quite intense - this isn't always easy though as one parked across bays generates more as most drivers just cannot be bothered to ensure they park correctly and just 'go with the flow'. For that reason I was stuck in one 80 yd stretch for nearly 20 minutes issuing PCNS on 8 cars all in a line - one of my worst nightmares but as luck woul have it I managed to escape to the car park without incident.

Patrolling the car park, I was checking the machines as usual and, when retrieving my token from one I pulled out the token plus just over £1 in small change (a small perk if you will). As I was walking away from the machine an Asian lady approached me waving a £10 note and asking for change.

"I'm sorry madam but we do not carry change for the machines as we would then not have time to check all the vehicles"

"This is stupid - I've come miles just to get here and do not have any change as I did not know how much the parking would cost"

I don't know about you, but if I go anywhere I always ensure I have some change for just such an event!

"Thats OK madam - just go and get some change - I won't ticket you as long as you don't take more than 10 minutes - there is a shop at the car park entrance that is used to get change for the car park"

"But I have 2 small children in the car and it takes so long to get them out and into the pushchair" - but she would have to do that anyway ???

"Just how long were you intending to stay here then?"

"I don't know - it's my first time so I've come for a look around" - about 5 minutes should do that :)

"I'll tell you what - take this 50p and have a couple of hours on me (or whoever forgot to get their change out of the machine)" - The look of amazement on her face amused me greatly

"But I couldn't do that"

"Why not - I'd rather you put a ticket in your car than me put one on it" - and with that I put the 50p into the machine and handed her the ticket

As I was leaving the car park I nearly bumped into a young bloke with his very young daughter standing outside of the public toilets - the Gents closed due to vandalism. I could see by the way she was standing just how desperate his daugher was so I offered to take her into the ladies and get him out of his predicament (too young to go on her own) - offer greatly accepted.

I was patrolling with my colleague Barney - a very amiable, sociable chap but a real stickler when it comes to work - everything is black or white - no excuses. As the beat area is relatively small we tend to cross paths about every 20 mins or so and he was on lates so not due till 10:30. There is a guy who has a market stall selling fruit and veg and always leaves his big green van parked next to his stall on the DYL - a no no but as the road is a dead end and gets hardly any traffic down it I'm quite happy to overlook the infringement and, probably because of that, get on well with the stallholder. I was chatting with him when he asked who I was working with today.

"Your mate Hitler"

"Oh bugger - I've got to move the van then" - loads of run ins and tickets from Barney

"Fraid so"

"Damn - thanks for the warning anyway"

And with that he grabbed a huge Fuji apple and tossed it to me - which of course I couldn't accept but as it was pointed out that it was shop soiled (where???) and I just love Fuji's I decided to bend the rules just this once anyway. Barney was amazed that I'd moved the green van on - "I thought you turned a blind eye to him" - which is what I really like about Barney - he does things his way and would never dream of 'ratting' on anyone who didn't do everything 'by the book'. It is amusing when we go for a coffee in a cafe overlooking a DYL '02' area, as he squirms everytime a car pauses outside as he just wants to get out there and move them on or stick a ticket on - I think it's the sadist in me that always makes him go there for coffee. Oddly, the only time our coffee break has been interupted by a quick issue was by me when I just had to slap one on a white van man that was just taking the mickey too much and thought he could get away with it. Barney would never do that as it goes against the black or white rules - you can't issue when on a break - but he can't just turn it off and ignore what goes on outside the window.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

8. Miss Unpopular

After a pretty relaxing week off I've been sent East this week, normally good for issuing but so far incredibly slow. I've managed quite a few good chats with the public, even had a chat lasting about 20 mins with a guy who had been issued to illegaly as I pointed out when he showed me the ticket (not one of ours I hasten to add). This poor guy had returned to his car in the car park just in time to see a PA slap a ticket on - for being one minute late. He appealed to the council who basically told him to pay up or else so I advised him to appeal to NPAS as I'm damn certain the adjudicator would throw that out as it leaves no scope for time differences between the ticket machine and the drivers watch.

Anyway, he showed me the PCN and the P&D ticket and lo and behold the ticket expired at 10:05 yet the PA started issuing the ticket at 10:04, although it was printed at 10:06 - that is bloody naughty by any standards. I advised him to contact the council again and demand some recompense or take it to the papers (Islington - tut tut tut).

The rest of the day was spent sweating as the humidity rose dramatically, not getting many issues and finally moving to Central for the last couple of hours a that is where the best chance for late shoppers tickets is - I managed to well exceed the 'target' so was quite content.

Today we had one of the interminable team meetings - more of the same old same old - we need more revenue - issue more tickets. Worryingly there was a distinct hint that the targets are likely to be increased (as if we don't have enough trouble with them now) and once again my concerns about the safety of the PA's and the apparent lack of concern by the Council were met with silence. I requested that we work in pairs to cover each other backs but that would mean a drop in revenue apparently so no to that. That peeved me mightily so I've demanded an independant Risk Assessment on our job (as is my right according to the HSE). That went down like a lead balloon - I get the distinct impression that the powers that be don't imagine we can think for ourselves and of course it means that the Council might actually have to do something about our safety (if the assessment goes the way I hope it does).

So now I'm public enemy no. 1 but I really do not care - I know my rights and I'll fight them all the way if I have to - they've grabbed a tiger by the tail :)

PS - just browsed Bill Stickers Blog - if you havn't already go there - the latest post / poem is the muts - keep it up Bill

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

7. Confessions of a Traffic Warden

I watched the program last night - I'm guessing this is the one tha Bill Stickers was talking about some months back when it was in production. To say the show was one sided is a bit of an understatement, and it certainly has done nothing at all to improve our lot out there. I'm just mighty glad I'm not in for a few days as I would expect shedloads of grief after that.

I've never taken a 'vendetta' out on anyone - If I get a 'challenge' I will do my utmost to win it, but once only, just to prove my point. As for the freebies - what bloody freebies ??. We regularly use the same few cafes (those that we feel welcome in) and while it has been known for the price of a coffee to be adjusted slightly (we buy in bulk) I've never been offered free food or anything like that - and wouldn't accept it even if I was.

I do tend to agree with the guy who ticketed 40+ cars on Christmas Eve though - I really cannot see why we should 'look the other way' just because its Christmas when most of the motorists are really taking the P by parking wherever they want and not expecting tickets - having said that I don't think I would issue that amount, I'd just stick to the 'cough cough' target 'cough cough'

Sunday, June 3, 2007

6. mixed emotions

It's been a funny few days. As I've been saying we few PA's working here atm are not overly happy with the 'higher ups' not blatantly refusing to do anything about our safety, but certainly not making any noticeable effort either.This culminated on Friday with my colleague getting a right pasting from some drunken gits who claimed he'd ticketed their car. It all came out of the blue, as most asaults do, and was over fairly rapidly as the aggressors went back into the pub. My colleague had his sunglasses broken and a cut to the face as well as substantial bruising, but more than that it is the shock that does the damage. When all this was going on there was nothing he could do to get any help as the only 'aid' we have is a mobile phone.

Immediatley afterwards he phoned the police who took over 20 minutes to arrive - and that is another thing that really annoys us - we have called the police / ambulance for assaults on the public and they attend generally within 5 minutes, however whenever we call for help, they have never yet arrived in under 15 minutes which is far to late. Apparently we are lower on the ladder than a turd on the sole of a shoe - and that came from one of the police when we asked them why they took so long. This has all been reported to our bosses but nothing has ever been done about it as usual.

Anyway, by the time the police had finished questioning my colleague and gone to the pub, the assailants had either hidden themselves or got a pub full of cast iron alibis and, once again, no action will be taken. Suffice to say that feelings are running very hot now and there is talk about refusing to issue any more until some form of safety equipment is forthcoming.

On Saturday, 4 of us were patrolling, in pairs for safety and the day was fairly uneventful while also beeing gloriously warm, which at least made us feel ,to some degree, contented. I had no trouble from anyone at all, in fact I didn't see a single driver on the 14 I issued to, and only got a small amount of grief from the recipient of one of my colleagues PCN's.

Today however I was out on my own, and very very nervous. I had been told, unofficialy of course, by my Super to just stooge about a bit, get a ticket if it is safe, but generally stay out of harms way. So, when I drove past Gloucester Rd in the East area and saw about 15 cars all parked on the DYL there, I was left in a bit of a quandry. Common sense said get the hell out of there and pretend I'd not seen anything, but by then the competitor had woken up and was already parking the car. I was puzzled as to why these motors were there as I'd never seen a collection like that here before, but started issuing nevertheless. There were 3 BB's and I wound up ticketing 13 vehicles in about 20 minutes, again not seeing any drivers. As I drove off I noticed a small church hiding at the side of the road that I had'nt seen before, and standing outside it was a huge wedding party - Oh damn, damn and damn. Now I realised just what I'd issued to I really did feel guilty and accelerated away sharply to get back to the office.

Now. I know that petrol is damned expensive nowadays, but this still seems a bit extreme to me