Monday, August 01, 2005

And Another Thing...

I just finished my last post but have some vitriol left over, so hang on for another diatribe. In San Diego, a couple of nights ago, we were walking through an area with many other tourists. Vying for the attention and the dollars of us all were a number of pedicab operators. Can you imagine pedalling your heart out in 100 degree weather while Joe and Susie Sixpack and their whiney offspring complain about everything they see? Surely a thankless job, at least number 32 out of 100, don't you think?

One seemingly east European man had his pedicab pulled over by the sidewalk. He was cowering as a very young male police officer, in a typically condescending, puffed up, officious manner, was explaining the law to him. The policeman was speaking in officialese. You know, that stilted, often grammatically tortured form of speech that people of petty rank use when they speak to their superiors. No, not their superiors by rank; their superiors in human value. The policeman was telling the man that he couldn't ply his pedicab trade on the streets of San Diego. He didn't have the necessary licence. The policeman had an audience and he liked the attention. He spoke loudly enough so that every one of the dozen or so people who had gathered around could hear every syllable. He thought that the people were admiring his performance.

I don't think so. The bystanders were likely wondering what the hell the fuss was about. Here was a guy who was trying to make an honest living. He wasn't panhandling. He wasn't selling drugs. He had bought or built a pedicab and was trying to drum up business so he could pay his bills. He could have stayed at home, sitting on his ass, eating pizza and drinking beer at the taxpayer's expense. You know, on welfare. Would that have been better?

Here is a note to every cop everywhere: When you pull someone aside in a very public place, speak to him or her, not to a larger audience. Otherwise you will just make an ass of yourself. Be kind and understanding and if it is warranted and necessary, be firm. If the transgression involves breaking some stupid law designed to limit commerce, or to curtail traffic in front of the mayor's home, ignore it. Be better than the law.

Here is a note to every politician everywhere: Stop writing and passing so many stupid laws.

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