Simple Ideas

A Pretty Chill Town

North American Travel | February 19, 2011

"A Pretty Chill Town" Is how San Diego was recently described to me. That was an outsider who looked at it from afar and said "It's all retired military down there, no problems there." And I saw the point.

At work I sit between a former astronaut and a former fighter pilot. Based on the conversations about their personal armaments, I can not imagine anyone attempting a breaking and entering at their domiciles. The word Mauser floats over my cube daily. Calibers are compared. I duck a lot.

Nearly every street is like mine, there are retired military guys on every block. Or a couple of active duty guys. This is a military town. We've got the southwest corner of the US covered, as far as well armed law abiding citizens go.

Due to our normally sunny weather and access to the beach, we also have expensive real estate. That generates a solid tax base. A solid tax base generates a large city government. Part of that government is the police force.

So herein lies the problem. A town with this much military could repulse not only a crime wave, but probably 150 of the other 190 countries on earth if they decided to stop by to rumble. We don't need a police force here, is the simple truth. The longer you live here, the more deeply you understand that.

Here is where we get to the San Diego Police. They are probably fine people, just like NYC police who risked everything on 9/11. They are not lazy guys in donut shops. They are out on the streets, doing what cops do. But as I said, we have the military here and by and large we are not committing crimes. Would be criminals don't want to get mausered. Net result, not much action for the cops. And really, why be a cop if not for the action. They are deprived, mostly due to guys like me. I feel their pain. I understand it, but...they could use, oh I don't know, some self awareness?

Driving home from work one day I see a traffic accident in Hillcrest. There is one red truck on the sidewalk. I count 18 policemen scouring the scene.

It is far past obvious that this is the high point of their day. There is no crime here, no ambulance, no injury. But you have one truck get creative with the use of a sidewalk, and every cop within shouting distance shows up for an impromptu symposium on alternative driving skills. This adds lots of time to my drive home and leaves me shaking my head slightly.

Not too long after that, a NY Jets fan is arrested at a San Diego Chargers playoff game. Over half a ton of police officers are shown wrestling this guy to the ground on a youtube video. Actual Chargers fans are arguing the guy did nothing to merit arrest. The police answer was "He was resisting arrest." Interesting business development approach. Just start arresting people and then see who resists and charge them with resisting. More head shaking by me.

But then today my daughter is driving me to the airport and traffic is ground to a halt. She asks "Wow are there a lot of people going to the airport today?" I tell her that the likely cause is an accident. An accident and the Will Rogers observation that "There is no situation so bad that the addition of a policeman can't make it worse." Sure enough, there is one vehicle that has the left front quarter panel pretty banged up in the right lane. A non-event that can be handled easily enough, no injury. Fender bender is all.

How do the cops improve this situation? They block off the right lane, where the vehicle is. Then they block the middle lane too, I presume to protect themselves from the passing traffic, which as you can expect is no longer passing.

On the autobahn they get this right. Cars go boom, a wrecker screams to the scene and clears the wreckage. Here in Socal we see the police turn a routine event into mob bust.. Everyone converges. They observe a shattered side marker. Reports are filed. I expect to see a perp walk any second.

Meanwhile traffic is frozen. Hundred of hours are lost as thousands of people are stuck in the traffic trying to get to the airport. I finally get into the terminal and take a seat in the waiting area. It is now an hour after the fender bender and I hear this over the PA.

"Flight XXX is being delayed as the flight crew is stuck in traffic on Harbor Drive"

Really. Really? C'mon guys. Your Uncle has your back. Relax.

Then we really would be a pretty chill town.


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