There’s an HOV-only exit on 75 North that leads to Akers Mill Road that Jenn & I occassionally use if we’re running to Parkway Pointe for a movie or Best Buy for DVDuesday. Last night when we exited, three Georgia State Patrol Department of Public Safety officers were conducting checks of vehicles to ensure that cars were indeed “high occupancy”.
Only I didn’t know that.
It looked to me (and Jenn) as though there had been an accident in the median separating the Northbound exit from the Southbound entry ramp. I slowed down to about 5 miles an hour to creep up to the light.
The cars in front of me were all being ushered to the far right lane, away from the officers and the parked cars. The officer in charge, hands at his side, made eye contact with me (and, Jenn says, with her as well). He gave a kind of small, flippant hand gesture which I took to mean I should get farther to my right and pass on.
When I got even with him, though, he said something to me (I don’t know if it was a shout, yell, or just loud speaking) and put his arm out to touch the car. I immediately stopped and put down my window.
“I’m not just out her for my health,” he said in a gruff, perturbed tone. I sat in stunned silence.
“I told you to stop. I can’t see through those windows. I couldn’t your one *pause* two other passengers.”
“I thought you wanted me to move on,” I said.
“Go!,” he yelled and gave me a dismissive wave of his hand.
Needless to say, a less than stellar exchange that left me, at the time angry and frustrated. Here’s the action I took:
- Called the Georgia State Patrol
- Called the department head and left a message
- Talked to an officer
A great officer gave me the number of the Department of Public Safety department head who is in charge of the officers who run these kind of roadside checks of the HOV lane and seatbelt compliance.
One of my finer, calmer voicemails.
This officer, also incredibly polite, courteous, calm and rational, took my “complaint” and offered to give a “butt chewing” to the officer involved.
For my part, I don’t want to see the guy reprimanded or even yelled at. I just want them reminded of two things:
- Make definitive hand gestures so motorists aren’t confused
- Be courteous
Had he given me the standard, arm extended, palm up sign, I’d have stopped immediately and not rolled by him.
I’m more than willing to help out law enforcement and wan’t trying to be a pest. If he’d have treated me with respect, I wouldn’t have complained.
That’s it. A very minor incident, to be sure, but it’s the small things that matter most.
I’m not trying to be a pest or a tattletale or whiner, but it was unprofessional and rude of the officer to use a phrase like “Do you think I’m out here for my health?”. Had he clearly wanted me to stop, because he couldn’t see all the passengers (even though he did see two of us, the legal minimum for the HOV lane), I would have. End of rant.
Well, not quite. I’ve got to hand it to the folks who answered the phones both times I actually spoke to officers (and not voicemail). Both of them had excellent phone demeanor, listened attentively and patiently and told me of the next appropriate steps I and they should take. I have no doubt that, with people like them behind the scenes, officers in the field will continue to improve their level of service to the community.