I break several laws every day...
There’s a stop sign near our house I regularly roll through in my car, for example. If police were present, I’d get a ticket but I don’t, never have, as I always make sure no one is around. If a pedestrian, another vehicle or, most decidedly, a squad car is in sight, I come to the complete stop law requires. If no one hears or sees it happen, like the proverbial tree falling in a forest, then it didn’t happen or matter.
I also flaunt the law on my daily walk with our dog Pearl. She’s happy on leash but I can’t resist un-tethering her so she can rollick in a pond we pass. We’re in a city with a leash law but it makes Pearl so happy I can’t resist. Like master, like pet, she vaunts authority, makes a beeline to the muddiest corner and gets filthy head to paw. For her crime she does the time, and she takes the hosing down administered when we get back with stoic resign. Again, I escape arrest and punishment because there’s no one around to bring me to justice.
And, to make sure the reader understands that this writer is totally debauched and depraved, I once cut the tag off of a mattress just to see what would happen. Nothing did except perhaps God(s) shouting “timber” somewhere.
These true confessions are all shared courtesy of a post by my son-in-law John on Facebook recently asking readers to address the subject of “Why do cyclists run red lights?”
John is a monster rider in the Twin Cities, cycling thousands of miles every year commuting to work or just pedaling for pleasure. I’ve ridden with him and know he is singularly meticulous about obeying traffic laws, and generally conscientious about presenting himself on two wheels as a responsible member of society. At the risk of speaking for someone else, I think John believes, like me, that it is important to be courteous to sway public opinion towards thinking bicyclists are good. We help reduce traffic, create more parking spots and, just in case anyone cares, are easy on the environment.
We want to do the right thing, but deciding what is right is not always so easy, at least not for me.
By second-gearing a stop sign when no one is around I have not hurt anyone. Yet, it would only take one time when I think the intersection is clear when in fact it really isn’t for the consequences to be dire. Still, I respect my judgment and am confident in my ability to decide when it is safe.
By letting Pearl run free, I am setting a bad example. While no one is in the immediate vicinity there are probably people watching from nearby houses. If they too decide to let their pets off leash packs of canines could soon be strolling around creating all sorts of crap, both literally and figuratively.
And then there are those pesky little tags on mattresses. What if everyone cut off the tag from his or her Posturepedic? Human sacrifice, cats sleeping with dogs, mass hysteria?
The origins of the little tags, by the way, go back to the early 1900s. Then, unscrupulous mattress makers– probably Republicans– were putting all sort of nasty stuff into bedding. To protect consumers, the government– probably Democrats– required dealers to post tags listing the contents and the directive “do not remove under penalty of law.” Confronted by fear of prosecution, most consumers left the tags untouched. Others, scofflaws like me, cut them off. Recently, however, the Feds addressed the misunderstanding by changing the label to read, “this tag may not be removed except by the consumer.”
And that gets me to, in a very round about fashion, the question of whether or not I ignore red lights. The answer is never while in my car and sometimes when on my bike but only when no one is around.
So sue me if you can see me.