Monday, March 5, 2012

Don’t push

I agree with Megan, so today I will use her Saturday adventure to make my point. We’ll call this A Minute with Megan as she so colorfully suggested.

Megan is a responsible woman.  A mother, a wife, a teacher and has a good head on her shoulders. She’s made some mistakes, like we all have, but learned from them to become a reasonable person able to operate successfully in the world. She understands that she has responsibilities and isn’t one to shirk them. Unless the situation calls for some serious shirking, but as a rational individual she’s able to know when that situations arises.

Saturday night she was pulled over by the police for driving while talking on her cell phone. Saturday night after Megan dropped off some friends at a downtown hotel.  She’d pulled her minivan away and turned the corner onto Michigan Avenue. She called her husband to check in on their young daughter who has a touch of a stomach ailment. Apparently Megan’s daughter had decided to projectile vomit all over the dining room right before Megan was to leave home for her night with her friends. So like a responsible parent she was calling to make sure her daughter was okay.

The two officers approached her vehicle with what Megan described in some unflattering terms so I’ll re-describe as, “unwarranted suspicion”. They made some strange requests of a sober woman in a minivan and despite her protests or attempts to explain that she was calling to check on her sick daughter she was still issued a ticket. Megan took serious offense to this citation from the CPD while other, more serious crime, was likely occurring. She felt she had been bullied and treated unfairly.

I diverge from Megan’s story for a moment (see what I did there) and note that I am in favor of the law that makes it illegal to talk on your cell phone while driving. It is a distraction for drivers and should not be allowed. I have seen too many instances where use of a cell phone while driving has caused some serious accidents. So I get it. But I am against the weak enforcement of this law. It’s piecemeal at best and it’s extremely rare the police pull people over for it.  It’s just unenforceable for the most part. So to be singled out, while in a minivan that has no other violations, seems strange and unjust.

It made Megan very, “hot”, as she put it and she came to meet my sister at our local watering hole. The more we talked of it the more annoyed she got about it. I understand completely, I’ve had my run-ins with some of the finer finers in Chicago and it can be very upsetting.

It got me thinking about our rules for governing people. The rules we have civically and professionally. The rules so I can keep a job I hate. Monday morning met me with several notices from micro-managing types who value quantity over quality; numbers over the real connections and efforts that should be taken to provide a quality product. A product to take pride in.

I felt a lot like Megan this morning. I’m doing the best I can with the tools at my disposal and my intelligence and self-image are taunted by the rules and desires or manipulations of others. The cops that pulled Megan over are a lot like the bosses I have to work with. Where any protest or excuse is met with a, “Well, that’s too bad for you. Do what you’re told if you still want a paycheck”.

While I know the situations are different in a lot of ways, the similarities still exist. There’s oppression of our inherit free will, of our individuality. It’s always upsetting to be stifled when we’re doing what we think is best, for ourselves or our children.

I’ll agree there are times you have to give up your individuality for the greater good or a larger purpose. Sacrifice is one of the things that make us human. I’ve no problem with a rational and reasonable surrender of individual rights here and there. But I do not like being bullied or treated like a moron. Or that my abandonment of who I am is an expectation of how I am to perform. Don’t push me. I will resist. I will not be bullied by the rule of law or the corporate machine. 

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