Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Who's the Man?

So I had a little brush with "the Man" this morning, and I escaped with a warning. But it brought up some innate rebelliousness in me that I wasn't too fond of. But it also made me question, when is rebellion true rebellion and when is it a reaction to injustice?

Along the Mall here in Washington there are some free parking spaces - near the Smithsonian museums. The thing is, you can't park there until 10:00 am. But people do. And that's what I was attempting to do (at 9:40) when this bicycle officer pedaled up. I was not the only one violating the posted sign, but I was the one the officer stopped and started to take out his ticket notebook with.

Me: "Are you going to write me up?"
Officer: "What do you think? What does the sign say - the one right next to you?!"
Me: "So can I move my car (and avoid the ticket)?
Officer: "Hey you know, DC's like Vegas, you win some, you lose some."
Me: "C'mon man; there's people that park here every day before 10:00 and sit in their cars just like I am. They don't get tickets."
Officer: "C'mon?! There's people here at 8:30 some mornings! You're not supposed to park here until 10:00."
Me: "But this happens all the time and no one gets tickets."
Officer: Have you gotten at ticket?!
Me: (Silence).

During this discussion, the officer had closed his ticket book and I was hoping that I could just drive off and leave. But I wasn't done, and I don't think he was either.

Me: "Look, can I just move and avoid this?"
Officer: (With a pissed-off, frustrated look on his face)"Go! Get outta here."
Me: "Thank you; as soon as these men (the other folks who were also parked in the same way I was but were escaping without a confrontation because the officer was busy with me) move I will be on my way."

I don't know if the officer said "have a nice day" like they do sometimes; I just wanted out. I left and parked at a meter; he pedaled off to chase away other lawbreakers.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was the one with the problem. Granted, DC is a hellhole when it comes to parking. They have raised the rates to $1.00 an hour, and if you stay at a meter longer than two hours they give you a $15.00 ticket - even if you have paid for more time. (I think the idea behind that was to discourage federal workers from staying at the meters all day so the tourists could park there. Either way - from us or from the Touristas - the city still gets the same amount of money. It's kind of like your landlord throwing you out even if you pay your rent).

DC also wants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a baseball stadium it doesn't need while it can't clear the streets when it snows, its schools are miserable, and there seems to be problems with potholes and exploding manhole covers. (Artist rendering courtesy of HOK/D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission) But I digress.

The main thing is, as a Christian I am told to be subject to the Power because there is no power that is not ordained of God. The policeman "beareth not the sword (or the Glock or the ticketbook) in vain." So I was wrong, he was right, and the other folks got away (some of them even parked illegally once the officer left! But that's not the issue).

Granted no one in his right mind would tell the Taliban (or the Yemenis or the Saudis) that there are Christian missionaries staying in his house; no one would have told the Nazis there were Jews in the attic; and no one would have told Southern slave hunters that there were runaways in the chicken coop. At least I hope not. But again I digress.

But the thing that ticked me off was that I was the one who got caught when hundreds of others flagrantly violate the same parking law every day and get no tickets, no talk, and no correction. This while DC wastes money on needless projects so Congressional fatcats can have the likes of Jack Abramoff entertain them and their staffs at a baseball game.

But I did miss the ticket.

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