The Gravitationist

Like evolution, gravity is only a theory,
but I feel the truth of both in my bones.

05 January 2008

A Violation

A police officer wrote me up for a moving violation yesterday. I was driving to the veterinarian to retrieve our newest household pet, a cat being treated for a shoulder infection (I suspect a dog bite), receiving his standard feline inoculations and saying goodbye to his testes. The vet bill and the traffic ticket made him a very expensive cat.

The encounter with the policeman had the psychological effect of ruining my day, and my night. Seething about the incident put me off my game for the rest of the day, and produced my worst night's sleep since I can't remember when.

I was guilty of the violation. I knew that, but I could not help feeling persecuted. The violation ("failure to yield") had nothing to do with safety. It occurred in a quiet residential area, and was only witnessed by the policeman because he was lying in ambush for fools such as I.

I rolled through a stop at walking speed or less, following another driver who had done the same. The stop sign was installed at this intersection a few months ago for reasons that remain a mystery. It is ignored by many, if not most. The policeman ticketed both of us. This type of bust is usually referenced in two words; the first is "chicken."

But today I realized my resentment is a silly self-affliction. My persistent flouting of the stop sign finally produced the result I could have expected.

Defiance of small-time regulatory stupidity will change neither the regulations nor the regulators; it only will invite trouble for oneself. Defiance of the law will not dissuade a policeman from picking cherries. More to the point, petulant defiance in such insignificant matters does not improve one's life, nor does it make a better world. It is a waste of energies best reserved for the larger debate.

I will pay the fine and consider the experience worthwhile. I think I have learned a cheap lesson, whatever the expense.

And henceforth I will obey all stop signs.


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