23. October 2006 08:19
So I'm driving to work this morning down 14th Street.
Ahead of me is a dark blue or purple Hyundai Accent. In about as good shape as any Hyundai Accent ever truly is. And I'm amazed with just how long the driver can go without hitting his or her brakes. Amazingly long - we're talking miles and miles here, not just a few blocks. Down a hill no less. I'd sure hate to be that transmission.
Oh, or here's a thought. The brake lights aren't actually working on the car!
Let's think for a moment: What precisely are my options here? Well, if I could catch up to the car, pull alongside, get the driver's attention and scream "Fix your ghoddamned brake lights, you obtuse, addle-minded pinhead." Or I could throw on my emergency flashers, jump out at a red light and bang on their window until they clued in that there was an actual serious problem. Not that I'd open my window when someone came running up behind MY vehicle.
Or I could call the cops. To serve and protect, right? Non-emergency number, this is no big deal. I'll give a close approximation of the conversation - to the the original you'd have to call the cops directly and get a copy of the tape. Yeah, I'd strongly encourage that. I'd love to hear it myself.
Cop: "Calgary Police Service, this is Officer ..." [Galloway or something, I really didn't think I'd need to remember her name.]
Me: "Hi, I'm driving down 14th Street following a car without brake lights."
Cop: "We cannot dispatch a car for that. By the time we'd get there, they'd be gone."
You can sense the palpable silence of me on the other end of the cell phone looking stunned.
Me: "Uhh.. No kidding. Can't you just call the owner or something and leave a message to get it fixed?"
Cop: "I'm sorry. Policy does not allow me to do that. Can you give me the licence number?"
Me: [Reads licence number from their plate.]
Cop: "Well, the car's not stolen."
Me: "This is bloody insane." [Hangs up.]
Well, thank you so very much to the police for my enlightenment. Apparently I was not calling in to express a concern about a vehicle with non-functional brake lights, I wanted to check if I was following a car which was stolen. You know, beyond the complete incomprehensible sarcasm I'm drowning in, it makes so much more sense to me to think that the only unsafe car on the road is a stolen car.
Now stolen, YES! There would be a great notion. For a stolen car, they could THEN dispatch six or seven cop cars - and maybe even a supervisor. Oooh! They could pull their guns and handcuffs and while the perpetrator was lying there on the ground and the owner comes rushing up wringing their hands with concern about getting his or her vehicle back, THEN the cops could gleefully write a summons for the owner to appear in front of a judge over not having brake lights that worked. That makes SO much more sense than actually calling the owner and encouraging road safety.
I wish I had a better end to this. I followed behind giving as much distance as I could while discouraging people from cutting in between us and getting a rude surprise. We got separated when the Accent went through the lights on 24th Avenue and I was caught. A 1970's style Trans Am got behind the Accent at that point and pretty much performed the same role I had perviously. The driver of the Trans Am was obviously clued in since he changed lanes with the Accent and the last I saw of either of them was crossing 12th Avenue in the south.
I'm so glad I'll be taking Centre Street home.