Saturday, October 08, 2005

in trouble with the law

It is early. I am wating for a Charter Communications person to stop by. He is not here. The phone is ringing. A potential buyer is asking about the van (I ran an ad for it in the paper today). I’ll be there to show you the van in an hour.

Don’t sell it to another, I need it! He begs. (Why does anyone need a 1993 minivan with a torn seat and a broken headlight?)

The Charter person never shows. Thank you Charter person. I get in the car and drive to meet the potential van buyer. My van is parked off of Monroe Street, in a residential neighborhood, where it is unlikely to be damaged or bothered or disturbed in any way. I am already on Monroe and my cell rings. Are you coming? The potential buyer asks. On my way, on my way, I answer, weaving my way past slow moving cars.

Half a block from my destination I see the telltale blue and red lights flashing behind me. Shit. I do apologize for the vulgarity, but there is no other word for it. Crap might do equally well, I suppose.

The police man comes over and tells me I did a number of reprehensible things, the first one being my driving without an updated registration sticker.

I know, I know, it’s registered, I explain. It’s just that the journey from envelope to car license plate is a long one, oftentimes not taken by me. I am sorry!

And about your weaving in and out of traffic. Let me ask you this: have you been consuming alcohol?

At 8:30 on a Saturday morning??
Officer, I have not even looked at a something containing alcohol (unless you count the toner I now use on my face after being scolded for not moisturizing several weeks back). Last time I consumed an intoxicating beverage was at around midnight on Thursday at the Karaoke Kid. You can read about it here, officer.

I feel he is leaning in to see if a whiff of something mightn’t be found anyway. He seems disappointed as he leans back out.

Finally, you are speeding. Ten over.
Finally? Shouldn’t that be firstly? Indeed. I am going the speed of the car in front of me. That kind of an answer, of course, will get me nowhere. I hear my mother saying: if your friend jumped out the window would you do it as well? – a favorite question of hers, implying, at the very least, that I have suicidal friends.

The young cop takes my license and disappears with the reassuring words we’ll get you out of here and moving soon. Sounds like something you’d day to a person who already is sitting in jail, not simply waiting to sell a van off of Monroe Street.

He comes back and tells me: you have a spotless record. Yes, I know that. I have never had a moving violation in the 35 years I have been driving. I have traversed all continents (well, almost) without putting so much as a dent into any vehicle under my control. I have trucked tour groups around narrow lanes and mountain passes. I have navigated cars through storms, tornados, downpours, heatwaves and blizzard whiteouts and have come out unscathed. You do not need to tell me about my driving record. I am proud of it. And, sadly, it is about to be deflowered, right there on Monroe street, in front of Michael’s Frozen Custard.

I’m letting you go without a citation, he tells me. He hands over a brochure, put together by the Madison Police Department, with the assistance of the Michigan State University Police Department, the Miami University Police Department and the New Castle County Police Department in Delaware. An eclectic bunch, wouldn’t you say?

The brochure asks for feedback, of the “how am I doing?” sort. It is right for him to hand this to someone who has just gotten off without a citation. Even though I have never taken it upon myself to call those numbers on trucks that say “call and tell me how I am driving,” this time, I want to help the MPD. I feel warm and fuzzy toward them.

Except, well, except I think the brochure is all wrong. It outlines what you should do when you get stopped by a cop. It invites a recurrence. It does not have faith in my continued attempts at keeping within the boundaries of the law. So I wont comment. But I did want to use this opportunity to say thanks to the dear man patrolling Monroe, on the look out for signs of early morning corruption and depravity. My purity is preserved.

that's entertainment

And again I was asked yesterday: why do you blog?

And again I answered: it's a writing exercise. In the same way that listening daily to language tapes is something you might do when studying a language, so, too, writing daily posts is something you might consider if you were seriously interested in the craft of writing.

It never stops there. The next line is predictable and it always comes soon after: Don't you find it hard to say something interesting on a daily basis? Why do you presume that you can keep a reader's attention with stories from your days?
And I say: I don't presume anything. I just write.

Next line (it is always like this): do you think it is appropriate to put yourself out there?

Here I stop and think about what the person is really after. Because in writing, just like in music or dance, you do reveal something. And whereas my views on politics, on the law, on corruption in Poland, on issues that typically make it into the press each day -- those pass the acceptability bar, writing about my own life is often called into question.

But I say none of this. Instead, I always remind the person that the day is long and a blog post is short and the relation between one and the other is small indeed.

Imagine: as an exercise for all you blog-doubters, take one day and jot down those events, minute observations, things that you see, conversations that you have -- jot down those that may lend themselves to a short paragraph. If your list is shorter than a thousand points then you're not trying. And think about all the important things you left out.

Are there risks? Oh sure. There is a reason why most known to me bloggers write under assumed names or identities. I do understand this, especially since I grew up at a time and place where so many lived in fear of having their words used against them.

And I know that for every person who warms up to Ocean, there is another who does not (I'm thinking of you, author of note to me from this morning!). I do listen, I pause, I consider the words and then I move on to write the next post, and the next, until at some turn I come to decide that what I am doing is worthless dribble, at which point I will pack my bags and move to a land far away where I can help dig ditches for those who need them. If I feel guilty about anything in life it is that I have not spent enough time digging ditches far away for those who need them.