Josh (desh) wrote,
Josh
desh

A serendipitous story in two and a half acts

Two Fridays ago, when walking home from work, I found an expensive-looking walkie-talkie lying on the sidewalk. I was about to walk past it, but decided it would be better to pick it up. Someone else will try to steal it if I don't, and besides, two-way radios are cool.

I turned the volume up and walked the remaining half-block home, in order to stand inside my building and hear the radio better. Here's what happened next, as I related it on Facebook:

Radio: *Lots of people identifying themselves by radio, sounding all official-like.*
Radio: *silence*
Me: *Pushes talk button*
Radio: *Squeals*
Me: *Releases button, startled*
Radio: *silence*
Me: *Pushes talk button, waits out the one-second squeal* "Um, I found radio 847 lying on the sidewalk. What should I do with it?"
Radio dispatcher: "Unit 847, what is your location?"
Me: (I'm a unit?) "Uh, 2200 block of Walnut."
Radio dispatcher: "Do we have any units near 2200 Walnut?"
Radio other person: "I'm at 21st and Market"
Radio dispatcher: "Any units nearer to 2200 Walnut?"
Radio yet another person: "I'm at 22nd and Walnut."
Me: "I'm walking to 22nd and Walnut but don't see anyone, I don't think, I don't know what I'm looking for..."
Radio yet another person: "I'm right on the corner of 22nd and....sorry, 23rd and Walnut."
Radio dispatcher: "Citizen with radio 847, please respond."
Me: (I'm a citizen!!!) *Waves wildly* "I see him now."
Yet another person, in person: "Thank you! Thank you! I really appreciate it!"
Me: *hands him radio* (Any time, sir! Just doing my citizenly duties!) "Uh, sure. Here you go."
Him: "Thank you!"
Me: *beams*

The guy I handed the radio to was a Philadelphia Parking Authority officer; I had no idea what agency I was talking to until I saw his uniform. I found out later that PPA officers are charged the full replacement cost if they lose a radio, so I definitely did some guy a favor.

It was a fun story to tell, and I was in a good mood for the rest of the day.

*****

Last Friday, walking home from running some errands at about the same time of day, and talking to my mom on the phone, I walked past the spot where I found the radio. There was a PPA officer sitting in the exact spot, smoking a cigarette.

"Mom, let me call you back in a minute."

I turned around to face the guy and said, "Hey, by any chance did you lose a radio here last week?"

"Are you the guy who found my radio?"

I introduced myself, and so did Brian. He was really thankful for me turning in his radio. He said that this was his beat, pointing to the general area where I usually look for on-street parking, and said to let him know if I ever get a parking ticket. He can try to help me out.

Karma! Except that I haven't gotten a parking ticket in a couple years, and haven't gotten a parking ticket that I couldn't successfully challenge on my own in more than 5 years.

*****

Monday afternoon, I got a ticket in the mail. I allegedly ran a red light, turning right on red in a no-turn-on-red zone near City Hall. I was caught by a red light camera. I did a bit of reading, and apparently red-light-camera tickets in Philadelphia are administered by the PPA.

Interesting.

I started thinking about how else to challenge the ticket, but clearly talking to Brian would be the best idea. If I could find him.

Well, this morning, while walking to my car, I made a wrong turn (walking toward where my car had been parked the other day, but not most recently), and there was Brian. I waved, from about 25 feet away, and he immediately recognized me. "Hi, Josh! How's it going?" Amazing.

He thanked me again for finding his radio. I told him that actually, it was good to run into him, because I had a question. I told him about the ticket.

He said that, unfortunately, red light camera tickets are tough ones, and he doesn't think there's anything he can do to help, but I should fight it anyway. (Which I was going to; I have a couple of angles I'm thinking of taking.) He said that even he had trouble getting out of a ticket (or actually couldn't get out of it, I don't remember) where his parking kiosk receipt had flipped upside-down on his dash board; the PPA doesn't take kindly to officers failing to pay meters. Apparently if you deliberately try to get out of a meter payment by leaving PPA-identifying stuff in your car, you're likely to get fired.

We had a nice chat and then went our separate ways.

Oh well. But it's still fun to have made a buddy like that.

I'll probably end up with a hearing about the ticket sometime in late spring or summer.
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