I was prompted to write this post after reading the sorry tale of ‘celeb’ Ingrid Tarrant’s outburst after being challenged by a police officer for parking in a bus stop; she drove off, resisted arrest and was convicted for ‘unnecessary obstruction, wilfully obstructing a Pc, resisting a Pc and failing to stop’ and was fined £2,700 with £1,200 costs. Not content with that she appealed, lost and received a further £750 costs yesterday. The appeal judge said “She has been able to persuade herself that she was in the right and the officer was in the wrong and that self-deception enabled her to believe what she had said.”
Personally I think that this ‘self-deception’ is behind the whole phenomenon; most motorists would probably grudgingly agree if challenged that without enforcement of parking regulations life in urban areas would quickly descent into chaos for everyone (including motorists), they would probably also agree that traffic wardens need to actually issue tickets and not respond to special pleading from every motorist who comes back to their car as they are issuing them.
The phrase ‘it’s a fair cop’ doesn’t seem to be considered to apply to parking offenses. If someone makes a racist remark or sexist remark it is likely to get challenged, but berating traffic wardens is still ok (just). Personally I think that change is coming and motoring culture is becoming a bit tired in many cities – possibly I am being optimistic, however people are starting to challenge this position, check out the ‘Traffic wardens are people too‘ article for further thoughts on the matter.
When I pass traffic wardens these days I say ‘thank you’ and appreciate them for doing a great job; and I have starting doing this more contentiously since being told by one warden that I was the first person who had ever thanked them for doing their job in their entire career! Isn’t that extraordinary – someone doing an important job (like police officers, nurses, firemen etc) but never ever get thanked for doing it.
I think that PL should do some more work on this at some point; in the mean time try saying ‘thank you’ next time you pass a traffic warden and see what happens. My experience is that they need a little convincing that one is even being genuine!