Q Is it possible to pass on congratulations to Union Pacific for finally painting over the dreaded and much hated "RIP TOMMY" on its Interstate 280 overpass near Bird Avenue in San Jose, and at the same time chastise the company for taking its sweet time ridding the world of that horrible eyesore?
A It is, but here is a dissenting view on the now-removed graffiti.
Q I am sad that the "RIP TOMMY" tag has been taken down on 280 for two reasons.
First, many people probably didn't know that Tommy got a little bit tipsy and fell down some rocks near the ocean and died. Every time I drove through there, it made me realize how precious life is.
The second reason: Ever since it was tagged, nobody had tagged that bridge again. While I am sure we will see more graffiti, even taggers seemed to respect this location.
A Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro wrote earlier this year that this was a memorial for a 20-year-old San Jose man named Tommy Martinez Jr., who died Jan. 19 after slipping on loose gravel and falling from a 300-foot cliff above Davenport Beach in Santa Cruz County. Police said he was intoxicated, "a situation that likely turned an avoidable accident into a tragedy," Sal wrote.
"In that light, the graffiti takes on a new meaning," he wrote. "I'm still not happy that it was done. Vandalism is vandalism, even in grief. But I won't be driving by again without thinking of the message and warning contained in those letters. Excessive drinking combined with bad judgment can be fatal. It was for Tommy Martinez."
Q Last weekend around 4:40 p.m., I was crawling down southbound Highway 101 south of Highway 25 when off on the side of the road stood a CHP officer, three horses and a CHP cruiser. Wondering if you would be able to find out what the horses were there for. It created about a four-mile backup. The road was clear as soon as we passed the horses.
A Martha, check your livestock. These were mules, not horses!
Here is what brought the highway to a halt. A man decided to enter southbound 101 on foot with his three mules at Castro Valley Road. As you can imagine, motorists slowed for the spectacle. The guy said he didn't know that pedestrians and bicycles are not allowed on the freeway.
The CHP received numerous calls, and when an officer arrived on the scene, he told the man that he needed to get off the freeway with his three mules.
But the guy refused, so he was arrested for failure to obey a lawful order. The mules were taken by Santa Clara County Animal Control.
Q As the saying goes, "no good deed goes unpunished." The other day I was delivering a meal in downtown San Jose to the beleaguered family of a colleague who died young and unexpectedly. I parked for about seven minutes, just long enough to unload the food, meet the person who was letting me into their condo and put the food in the fridge.
A parking enforcement person must have been lurking about, as the time on the ticket was about two minutes after I parked. I got a $40 ticket for being on a side street where there were no cars, late on a Saturday afternoon, for seven minutes. I was in such a hurry to deliver the food that I didn't even notice any meters.
Is there any hope of mercy in this situation, or should I just consider my $40 a donation to the cash-strapped city of San Jose?
A Most appeals like this are turned down. By the time you factor in your time appealing it, $40 might seem like a bargain.