ROADS REPORT: Expect the unexpected

Sometimes even the best of intentions are met with drag racing, anatomical car art and giant sinkholes from hell

Blog Entry July 12, 2013

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Citizen patrol
The small town of Valley Falls, Kan., thought they had a groundbreaking plan to better patrol their downtown on a tight budget.


In April, the city established a police auxiliary program consisting of civilian volunteers who would patrol the streets in actual police cruisers and keep an eye out for unruly teenagers. Meanwhile real officers would catch up on paperwork.


Who could have ever guessed that this brilliant idea would go wrong?


Less than a month after the program launched, a city council meeting was overrun with furious residents who described seeing auxiliary officers drag racing in their cruisers, blaring sirens and blasting air horns. One volunteer was even spotted on patrol with a 5-year-old child sitting on his lap.


Two days later, the council decided to disband the auxiliary program “for the time being.”


The people’s court
Tampa, Fla., doesn’t need a police auxiliary program—they have Natasha Myers.


This spring, the 23-year-old handed out her own unique form of parking lot justice after witnessing a driver failing to stop at a pedestrian walkway outside a Publix supermarket.
After carving a crude sketch of male genitalia on the hood of the inconsiderate driver’s Kia SUV with her keys, she marched into the Publix, asked for a Post-it note at the customer service desk and wrote out a message that she left on the Kia’s windshield:


“Hey, I keyed your car,” it read. “You didn’t stop for pedestrians as is law. Since no cop to enforce a ticket, this should cover the cost of your fine. Have a good day. P.S. Don’t be a d---.”


Turns out the Kia belonged to a 63-year-old woman who had no memory of any confrontation with pedestrians in the parking lot or of being a d---. Nonetheless, the total cost of her “fine” came to $1,240.13.


Cymbal minded
When officers find motorists stranded on the side of a busy eight-lane highway like I-695 in Maryland, they’re usually stressed out and upset.


However that wasn’t the case this past May when police found a man broken down on the Baltimore Beltway playing a drum set.


The man told police that he ran out of gas and had called for assistance, so in the meantime he figured he’d set up his drum kit on the shoulder of the highway and practice.
The officers helped the man refill his gas tank and then sent him on his way without issuing a citation. After all, there’s no law against traffic jams.


Got a sinking feeling
It was a Monday like any other for Danny Rodriguez, who was using a forklift to move pallets of food products around a New Jersey warehouse this past May.
Then all hell broke loose.


Hell, which is apparently located directly below East Rutherford, N.J., suddenly opened up and tried to swallow Rodriguez through a giant sinkhole.


Witnesses said that without warning, a 30-by-40-ft section of the warehouse floor collapsed, causing Rodriguez, his forklift and gallons of cooking oil and soy sauce to plummet 10 ft into a giant pit.


Fortunately for Rodriguez, the forklift not only broke his fall but also kept him from drowning in what was quickly becoming a gooey vat of Asian salad dressing.


The warehouse property manager believes that the building’s concrete slab foundation gave way because it had been laid over a long-forgotten basement with insufficient support.


Rodriguez escaped from the hole on his own with no serious injuries, aside from smelling like a discount buffet for the next week. R&B



 

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