This Officer Was No Gentleman
Getting the ticket was bad. Getting attitude was worse.
by David A. Kolman, Senior Editor
I never thought it would happen. In my more than 30-year trucking career, I’d avoided the experience. But the laws of probability caught up with me.
It happened not long ago on the kind of night that has me saying: “nighttime is my time.” I was surprised to see the scalehouse open after dinner time. The state coffers being low these days, I guessed the longer hours were due to “revenue enhancement” operations.
No big deal. It’s my standard practice to wear my seat belt and keep my logbook current. Besides, the loads I pull never gross more than 25,000 pounds.
When I rolled across the pre-scale strips, instead of getting the usual green light, the red light flashed. As I pulled the front axle onto the scale, a state police commercial vehicle officer motioned me to stop.
I had to smile at the sight of him. He looked 14 years old and could be the poster boy for a police recruitment ad. He had short-cropped hair and wore a heavily starched uniform with a shirt so tight that I could see every detail of his bulletproof vest. His duty belt had every imaginable piece of equipment, and he had a habit of tapping his holstered gun.
After each axle was weighed, the youngster came up to my cab. “License and registration,” he demanded. “You’re overweight.”
Even though he was probably straight out of the police academy, he already had the unpleasant, confrontational attitude of many veteran officers that I’ve run into. He ordered me to head inside the scalehouse. He walked behind me, no doubt tapping his gun, waiting for me to make a break for it.
As I entered the scalehouse, the other, older officer — with a more honed I’m-the-law attitude — roared: “You’re 5,000 pounds overweight on the rear. You’re going to have to shift or unload the load to get back to a legal weight.”
The natural tendency is to “discuss” the situation. I’ve learned, however, that with officers of this ilk, confrontation makes matters worse. I explained that I couldn’t open the container as it was sealed and locked. “That’s your problem, driver,” the younger officer told me.
As an alternative, I asked if I could slide the tandems. “After you get the ticket,” was the terse reply. I signed the pricey ticket and was handed my copy, along with a snide, “Have a nice day.”
Returning to my truck, I fought with the tandem slider, going back and forth from the pin-puller to the cab trying to get the pin to retract. As I struggled, the younger officer marched up to me and said: “You can’t sit here. You need to move along.” He declined my request for assistance, and I thought I heard him chuckling as he strode away.
Now I had an attitude. I figured, forget it. I’ll just drive on to my delivery because there were no more scales along the way. But the way my luck was going, I decided I’d better not.
With one last mighty effort — and much cursing — I got the pin pulled, slid the tandems back, and was on my way, a bitter man.
I never thought it would happen. But now I can see why an adversarial relationship between truckers and law enforcement exists.