Courtesy Is Cost Effective
I've never understood people who are rude. You know the type. The person who thinks that yelling at a waiter will magically make the food taste better. Or the person at the airport yelling at an airline staffer for a plane delay -- as if the volume of their discontent will somehow land the 747 on time. In our office we occasionally get a phone call from people are quite plainly rude. A rude attorney? I'm shocked I tell you. Shocked! Ah, such is the business of court reporting.
Still, I had the opportunity this week -- yes, the Opportunity -- to test out a theory I've toyed with for awhile. The theory goes something like this: courtesy is the best approach when dealing with any problem. It costs nothing but yields large ROI. My theory got put to the test this week as I got pulled over by a police officer. I had just left a client in Anaheim and I was heading up Rose Drive through Yorba Linda, California. I crossed some railroad tracks and allegedly -- according to the officer -- allegedly went too far forward across the lane line, ending up waiting out the red light directly under the crossing guard rails, my front wheels straying too far into the intersection. Allegedly, I tell you. Allegedly!
Todd's No. 1 Rule When Being Stopped By The Police
Remember all those episodes of Cops. Cue the song: Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do? My No. 1 Rule When Being Stopped By The Police is to do exactly THE OPPOSITE of what everybody on Cops does. If they usually run from the police. You do not run. If they usually talk back at the police, you do not talk back. If they usually throw their baggies of narcotics out the window, you do not even have baggies of anything anywhere near you. Ever. You get the picture.
So I -- in following my rule -- performed the following things during my little episode with the good Yorba Linda officer:
- Roll down both windows of my vehicle
- Place my hands at 10:00 and 2:00 and keep them there
- Wait for the officer to speak before saying anything
- He asked if I knew what I had done wrong, I admitted that I did. Life Rule: never lie.
- He asked to see my driver's license, I told him yes and that my license was in my wallet in my back pocket, and would it be okay if I reached around to retrieve it. He said yes.
- He asked to see my insurance and registration. I told him yes and that that info was in my glove compartment, and would it be okay if I reached over to retrieve it. He said yes.
The officer then retreated to his car to do whatever they do over there. I assume they pull up my vehicle and my name on the computer and see if I'm wanted for anything. I'm not so he was back within a minute or less.
He then proceeds to tell me something very interesting -- and herein lies the whole reason for this blog post. He says, Todd, because of your courtesy with your hands, and your telling me about all the actions that you were going to take inside your vehicle -- as an officer, I really appreciate that -- I've written you up for the lightest violation possible. What would have been a $369 violation will only be about $100 bucks.
I was happy at the courtesy discount. But I was more happy about the fact that my theory -- that it always pays to be courteous -- proved correct. And I'll be staying clear of railroad crossings for a while too.
Thursday, January 15, 2009