Monday, 19 January 2015

Stranded by the LPD

Finding winter tires has been a nightmare. None of the stores or mechanics who sell used tires-including my mechanic who used to be my mother's client-answer their phones. So, I had to wait until the snow had melted before driving to a variety of places and since many locations aren't open on Sunday, I chose early Monday morning to make a go of it. Now, it's definitely my fault for waiting until now to purchase snow tires, so really, this is on me, but the ridiculous overpricing of tires, rims and the service fee has got me wondering if I should even bother. I don't even like to drive. Sometimes I feel guilty for being fortunate enough to own such a beautiful vehicle when I don't even like cars. I appreciate that they make life convenient. However, they also make life unnecessarily expensive. So, I'm faced with the question: purchase tires or take the bus during winter. For four tires with basic rims (because I don't want to ruin the BMW rims) and the service fee, it comes up to just under $1000.00 CAD (around 260KWD/$885USD). Not terrible if that was the cost for NEW tires, but gently USED winter tires??? I swear the gentleman at the store was overcharging me because of my gender and because he can. I NEED winter tires, and he knew it: he looked at the tires on my car now and he'd have known that they won't get me anywhere with the snowfall we get. I can't even drive in a few centimetres of snow without fishtailing. My consensus? Well, I don't have much positive feedback about gently used tires available for 2003 BMW 325CIS, and after my run-in with the police, I'm seriously considering the bus.

As I was driving to look for tires, I was stopped at a traffic light on King Street and Wellington Road. Not wishing to listen to the song that began to play, I flipped my iPod around. This required me to take the iPod out of the cup holder, turn it and put it back down. This 5-second hand touching cost me $280.00 (about 70KWD/$250USD). I was told to pull over after the light and an officer would meet me there. That he did. Unaware that this movement was illegal, I explained to the police officer I had been in the Middle East for the past two years, and that I hadn't driven a car in the two years prior to that (because I couldn't afford one) and so I didn't break the law on purpose. That is the truth.

Taking an extremely long time to return to my vehicle, I waited patiently until the officer returned with a pamphlet and $280 ticket. I wasn't upset about the ticket. I'm not stupid. At the end of the month, it's common knowledge that the LPD (London Police Department) make their monthly "quota" by ticketing anyone who breathes the wrong way. Take that as a warning, drivers. I broke the law (ridiculous as it is), unintentional or not, so I deserved the ticket and I will pay it.

I will pay the ticket, but not without saying publicly how disappointed I am with the LPD. What actually bothers me was that my car wouldn't start once the officer had given me the ticket and he was well aware of it (the car battery had died). Not only did he not check on me to see if I needed help, but when I asked him for help, he refused it, asked if I had a handheld mobile device to call someone and when I answered affirmatively, I was effectively dismissed with the assumption that I can help myself. Between the heavy rainfall and wind, I must have looked hilarious to him, soaking wet, running around the street looking for someone with booster cables...No one had any. Sitting in his warm car, dry, I wouldn't have been surprised if he was laughing at me.

I was parked along the road, illegally, and had no idea who to call since everyone I knew would be at work. I sucked it up and called the only person who I knew wouldn't mind assisting me: my sister (she doesn't work too far away from where I'd been stopped). She had to get approval to leave work for an early lunch and help me. As I sat, fogging up the windows in my car (alone, sadly...because there are other good reason for foggy windows *wink-wink*), I started to feel chilly since the rain had soaked through my clothes and I had no heat in my car.

The officer finally drove away, but not before telling me that if I needed help he'd be a block away. Seriously?!?!? To be fair to him, I honestly got the sense that he'd wanted to help more, and that he may have even felt guilty for not doing so, but because of ridiculous rules and regulations he likely wasn't allowed to (this is what I was told anyhow). However, if police do not help those who are in need, what exactly is their function? Ticketing people for traffic violations that are useless? Yes, I did something illegal, but I wasn't ignoring what was happening behind me, or in front of me. I constantly move my eyes around while I'm driving (as I was told to do so by my mother who taught me defensive driving AND by my professional driving instructor).

I can remember with perfect clarity that the hand sign was flashing and between the countdown (there is a countdown under the flashing hand sign for pedestrians) and my speed, I would need to stop at the light, which I did. As soon as I stopped, I checked to make sure the car behind me wasn't going to rear-end me, and then grabbed the iPod, checked the pedestrian signal (it was the white person walking), glanced at it, hit the arrow, put it down and noticed a figure walking (a police officer) towards my car to the left. I rolled down my window and having that conversation was more distracting than my indiscretion. By the way, if you're not aware, the LPD places traps all over the city. If you want to know a few, let me know ;)

What I want to know is why the elderly woman STOPPED at a green light on a major intersection (Wonderland Road and Springbank Drive) who almost caused a major accident was never charged? How about the impatient drivers who swerve out from behind cars, NEVER signal and then cut vehicles off?? What about the drivers who tailgate??? They're rarely ticketed. But hey, drive 5 kilometres over the speed limit and you should be fined because that's extremely dangerous. Why not actually fine people who are causing road rage like those who drive under the speed limit? What??? Actually do something that might improve traffic conditions? No way! Good job, LPD. I commend you for the wonderful job you're doing, and YES, that is sarcasm.

I thought that maybe I'd been acting like an entitled suck and I was. I wasn't hurt. I had a (car) roof over my head and even a cell phone, so I can understand why I didn't need help, and let's face it, my situation wasn't half as bad as my sister's co-worker: my sister's co-worker, let's call her Z, had been driving with her partner. Z's partner was driving the car and was arrested while Z and their baby were in the vehicle. Z's partner drives a manual, which Z didn't know how to drive. When Z told the police this, they told her it wasn't their problem and left her and the baby alone on the side of a quiet country road at night with few lights, no sidewalks, stores or houses around. This situation is deplorable. How could you ever put trust or faith in the law after an event like that??? Z had to walk with her baby before coming across a phone she could use to call her parents, although I have no idea as to how long she walked.

What happened to me isn't a "woe-is-me entitlement" account that's gotten me thinking. I don't want anyone's pity. It's just that when people are so heavily taxed, you hope your money is going towards a strong policing system that is effective and efficient. Yet this event has served as a painful reminder that I haven't had any faith in the LPD for most of my life because it's terrible. My mother used to work across the street from the police headquarters. One evening a man came in and threatened her and others in the building. The police were called and didn't show up for over 45 minutes. What would have happened if someone had been wounded??? Hearing about Z's incident made me thankful that I'd been stranded in a city and in possession of a cell phone. However, it also made my disappointment more severe.

If I could ever give any advice, I would advise this: never trust or rely on law enforcement in Canada...Not simply in London, or even in Ontario. I think the LPD is one of the worst I've ever encountered. In fact, if I'm ever in danger or in fear of my safety here, the LPD would be the last place I'd contact. Between corruption and bureaucracy, I believe that the police create more problems instead of solving them; they have to stay in business, too, right?

As police brutality continues to escalate in the US (the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri and the recent case in Cleveland, Ohio where an officer shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice are only two of numerous incidents), it seems that law enforcement is on edge. Why? Are they are truly scared of people challenging their authority? Do they think people are out to get them? It's terribly disheartening to know that officers would rather treat you like a criminal and shoot you then treat you with respect and talk to you. Am I oversimplifying matters? Heck yeah, but it is that simple in certain instances. Can they not leave their ego at their desk? Can they not bully people? Can they not give warnings instead of jumping the gun? If the officer I met this morning had called a tow truck or even my sister for me, how would that have seriously put him out or injured him? I had no intention of hurting him, wasting his time or even treating him rudely. I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt because he has a job to do: help people in need, keep people safe, keep our city safe. How does deserting innocent people in need of assistance help? It doesn't and if someone says to me, "It's not their job," I'll get really angry because it IS their job, just like it's a doctor's job to help someone who is hurt without discrimination. That's what our tax money pays for. It's a basic right.

By the way, I LOVE those ridiculous promos on Facebook with the police singing and goofing around (yes, more sarcasm). It's a useless publicity stunt and I condone it all. Let's see now, after this post goes up, how much trouble I have with the LPD. Although I wrote this post in November originally, I've added to it since (and have since gotten winter tires), but let's just see if I'm hassled by London law enforcement.

My fellow canucks, do yourself a favour: if you need help, don't call 9-1-1.

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