I guess I’m not completely as sanguine about having gotten that ticket, as I’ve been continuing to brood on it a little this evening. I don’t mean to imply that I’m the paragon of driving virtue—I make occasional mistakes just like anyone else, but I’m not deliberately reckless—yet on a near constant basis I witness all kinds of appallingly bad and dangerous driving that seemingly goes unremarked and unpunished, and that then ends up being emulated by other drivers when they see there are apparently no consequences. It sometimes makes me feel like I’m a bit of a sucker, especially the times when it appears I’m the only person obeying a given traffic law: there’s a stretch of Fulton Street, for example, about a block and a half long, that I drive every day both going to and coming from work, where the speed limit briefly drops from 35 to 25 because there’s a senior center there. I always slow down when I reach that stretch, yet hardly anyone else ever does. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to get dirty looks and sometimes even honked horns from the drivers who pass me, frustrated that I’ve slowed them down (unfailingly, of course, I catch up to them at the next traffic light, which does give me some perverse pleasure at least).
On the Great Highway on the way to work, as another example, there are a series of traffic lights every few blocks, even though there’s no actual cross traffic; the lights are designed, rather, to keep traffic on that route from moving too fast. On many occasions I’ve stopped at one of those lights, not only those that are turning yellow but some that already are red, only to have a driver behind me pull around and speed through the red light in the other lane. A few weeks ago the driver behind me didn’t even bother to slow down, apparently assuming I’d run the red light too, and nearly plowed into me when she finally slammed on her brakes at the last minute; I actually had to step on the accelerator and go halfway under the red light in order to keep from being rear-ended. If last night’s cop had been there, I’d probably have been the one ticketed for running the light.
Along those same lines, the car last night—the one I was allegedly following too closely—had been changing lanes without signaling, driving in the left lane five to ten miles below the posted speed limit, and even abruptly cut in front of me into the left-hand turn lane after having initially stayed in the through lane. Yet the cop singled me out for punishment.
OK, yes, life isn’t fair. But couldn’t it be at least a little more fair?