Every morning on the way to work I cut through the little town of Hapeville as I make my way from Atlanta along the old U.S. 19/41 and every day I get stopped along with other motorists in front and behind me by a man who is wearing a bright “police” jacket and has a whistle. He holds up our cars with the authority of a policeman as he lets cars in and out of the parking lot of a private business, the original Dwarf House restaurant that sparked the Chick-fil-A chicken empire.
I can only assume that this chicken shack holds up legitimate traffic to provide easy access to one business and is paid by this business. This is not the only case. I haven't checked lately but there was also a bank near Morrow in which a “cop” would stop the busy traffic on Highway 54 in order to let customers in and out of the bank parking lot.
Well, all I can say is that this burns my innards. I respect the police and I respect the tough job the police have to do. But I will be darned if I have any respect for being inconvenienced by one of these rental cops masquerading as a real cop. On what authority does any business have to halt traffic along a public thoroughfare so they can ring up more business? None is my answer.
Imagine the chaos if every business decided to do the same thing. You would take three hours to get from Jonesboro to Atlanta and the traffic would back up all the way to Macon as each store with a customer sent its rental cop out into the major roads around their store in order to let out a customer.
The clear message is this: “We are special. If you come in and buy our chicken or whatever we will make it easy for you, even if it means a non-customer is inconvenienced.”
So why do I stop? One reason is that ingrained in me is this respect I mentioned for the police. Secondly of course if the thought that event though I doubt there is a state law that says if any business wishes to halt traffic to increase their profits they can do so, I bet if I got dragged in front of one of these little town city judges for ignoring “pops cop” I would be thrown in the slammer on some kind of old-fashioned Wild West law.
I think these businesses should go even further. They are failing to drain a few more dollars that could be had if they would just get tougher. Have this rental cop hold up traffic for hours in front of the chicken restaurant until a motorist holds up a sign: “OK give me the three piece dinner with fries and a Coke.” The cop then lets that driver pull out of line, go through he drive-through and then on his or her way to work or wherever. Those who don't cough up the six bucks can just sit there and burn some of that overpriced Arab oil (or is it the greedy American companies that make it overpriced?)
I think this intruding on the public thoroughfares could catch on.
If I win the Georgia lottery and find myself rolling in dough I think I will just pay to take all the inconvenience out of my life.
I will hire three full-time cops to ride with me and follow me around.
If I see a big line as I approach the checkin at the Delta booth at Hartsfield-J, I will just have him yell real loud, “OK, Police, everyone on the ground.” As they frantically hit the carpet, I will smile and walk right to the front of the line and board the plane.
Of course I will have to have a rented sky marshal waiting aboard so when I get to my destination he or she can yell: “Everyone stay in your seats.” Otherwise I might have to waste a couple of minutes waiting behind those annoying people who have to drag all of their bags out of the overhead compartment.
(Hey, I know I am being silly, but I did just think of a legitimate plan to make my life easier). The pilot should announce that everyone must remain seated except those who did not check anything (and I mean ANYTHING) in the overhead compartment. We then get off the plane first and let those who don't trust the check-in system to eat our dust.
For the purpose of this column I was going to continue going through my day with my rental cops cutting the way for me, but then I realized I have such a boring life I was starting to snore louder than you people reading this column and so I will let you complete the column by adding where you go in a day and letting my rental cop cut our your inconveniences (this is known as interactive journalism).
Bob Paslay is editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or firstname.lastname@example.org .