Saturday, July 12, 2008

Collingwood's Finest, sort of...

Cab drivers. In every place with a population higher than 5000, they drive with purpose. You don't get paid unless you have a fare. Then, once the fare is in the back, you take it a bit easier. After all, there's usually no use in terrifying the clientele. Collingwood cabbies, however, missed the first part of the lesson. I've long noticed that they are s l o w but I didn't also realize that they are deputies. Last night, I may or may not have gone through a light which turned red mid-intersection. I don't recall, and any witnesses no doubt mis-remember the actual event. (Thank you, Roger C.) Anyway, somehow I fought my way through the empty intersection safely, and on the other side, waiting for the Friday night drunken fares to start lining up, was a row of cabbies shooting the breeze.

A friend of mine likes to say that she has a big sign on her head which says, "Confront me. I'm a stranger."


The cry came from the left in the direction of the cabbies. Ah yes, there's the origin: a woman chatting with another cabbie. The very people who should be first in line to acknowledge that 30-40 seconds of your life wasted *ahem* behind a needless light should be avoided. It's the nature of their business. In absolute maturity, I registered the commentary, weighed it, and responded with a wave of my hand. Unfortunately, I'd just finished a roof, and my hand was apparently cramping because all the fingers didn't come out for the wave. And wouldn't you know, the man of the two must have JUST finished working on his roof. His fingers didn't all come out for the obligatory re-response wave either. What an unusual situation.

So, what do I care? I continued driving. Suddenly, two long blocks later, I've got a police cruiser behind me. He flips the lights on, and I'm pulling over. Take shades off, put glasses on. Policeman walks up.

"I need you to give me a lesson on traffic signals. What are they for?"

That, my friends, is a great line. It was a brilliant approach to the situation at hand.

"Uh, ummm, uh..."

In my head, I'm aware that the intersection was empty. I'm guessing that even if he saw me, I don't really want to just blurt out: (hypothetically)

"IT WAS ME! I'm sorry. I did it, I did it. I ran the yellow-which-turned-red mid-intersection. I'll never do it again! I'm sorry."

He smiled.

"So, what are you supposed to do with traffic signals."

I was trying to think of something witty and politely smart-ass, but all I said was, "I didn't think it would change so quickly."

He smiled again, and in five minutes I was on my way. Let me tell you. It is wisdom to be polite, decent, and friendly.

Here's the thing. This guy didn't catch up with me until I arrived at the second intersection. If he had been close enough to witness what happened, and wanted to do something about it, he would have been right on me. Plus, the line of questioning would probably have taken a more direct tact.

Let's reconstruct this.

Cabbies normally bug me because many of them drive like they've had to put up with bad drivers for years. In Collingwood, they drive with extreme prejudice --against actually reaching the speed limit. That's without a fare. You can put together what happens when they are actually charging a customer. Therefore, we can easily establish that the CWC culture is one of caution.

What I didn't realize, is that in the CW constitution, article 41, paragraph 91, under the heading of Cabbie Constitutionality, it clearly states, "The Cab Driver, heretofore referred to as the Cabbie, is specifically responsible for maintaining the day to day enforcement of everyday traffic rulings, should such an infraction occur in such a manner that the Cabbie feels that control of his or her town is slipping through his or her fingers. In such an instance, the Cabbie is obliged to re-respond to the wave of acknowledgement, whether disfigured by cramping or not, but not to specifically take the matter further. Notwithstanding, the Cabbie is required to notify higher authority with radio contact, in which case it might be assumed that the cabbie actually saw what happened, and didn't simply catch a glimpse out of the corner of their eye and make an assumption."

I love it. In this town, of all places, with an unbelievable teenage pregnancy rate, an overabundance of weed, a proliferation of minimum wage jobs, and plenty of young people who glare at you for walking, they feel that they are improving everything by being self-righteous over a minor traffic situation. Is their attitude lifting the town to a higher plane, or is it an indication of a problem? Imagine if we all called the police for every rolling stop, yellow light run, parking meter expired, speed limit exceeded, or small annoyance expressed. I would suggest finding something constructive to do with your time, like thinking.

And yes, I am aware that my assumption is that the cabbies called it in. I like the irony.

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