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Wrong-Way City Truck

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Wrong-Way City Truck

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
September 1, 2007

What first caught my eye, as I drove away from the Square on Dean Street this afternoon, were the four-way flashing lights and the flashing rooftop light bar. Oh, oh, what's up? Then I noticed the truck was parked on the wrong side of Dean Street, just one parking space north of South Street. This is across the street from the Unitarian Church at Dean and South Streets.

Then I noticed a woman standing on the curb by the driver's door of the truck, leaning against the door. Must have been a personal conversation: right? It was 3:59PM and, when I drove by, I noticed that the truck belonged to the City of Woodstock. Didn't see a Unit Number on the truck, but the license was M155060.

Wait a minute! Am I in Chicago? Or was I really still here in Woodstock? I circled the block and parked on Dean Street, facing South Street, and watched as the conversation continued. I held my breath a few times as northbound cars bore down on me. Phew.... that was close. How did some people get their driver's licenses? Is the depth perception of some drivers so bad (or so good) that they could miss me by inches.

Finally, at 4:14PM, the driver and the pedestrian finished their conversation, and she headed into the house on the corner, entering the door on the diagonal front of the house. The driver of the pick-up truck drove north on Dean Street against the left curb, still using his emergency lights, and then pulled back over onto the correct side of the street. Last time I checked, Dean Street is a two-way street there. Yep, and it still is.

I had my fingers crossed that a Woodstock police officer might get out of roll call early and swing up to the Square to check out things. I wonder what he would have done...

Write a ticket for driving on the wrong side of the road?
Issue a written warning and forward a memo to the City department to which the truck is assigned?
Tell the driver to move on and direct traffic while the truck was driven back onto the correct side of the street?
Just honk and wave at the fellow City employee?

I'm still irritated over the headlight ticket I got in January. The officer had told me he would give me a warning (the headlight had been replaced two weeks before and had gone out 20 minutes before I got stopped right in front of my house). But, after speaking with a second officer, he issued me a $75 ticket.

So, when I wonder whether "discretion" will be used with a driver who commits a moving violation or a fellow City worker, I am not unduly suspicious of how a violation will be handled.

Perhaps the manager of the City department of this truck will explain here why his employee was parked illegally on Dean Street for 15 minutes while he engaged in what appeared to be a personal conversation with the woman who lives in the house on the corner. He may have been on his own time; was he? But there was no reason for him to drive illegally onto the wrong side of the street, just so he could stop with his driver's door against the curb. This action forced him to drive again on the wrong side of the street, when he pulled away from the curb.

Okay, so Woodstock is a small town. If it is going to act "grown up" some of the time, such as back in January, then it needs to act grown up all the time. Which way will it be?

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