I AM STEALTHY, WEAVING IN AND OUT OF traffic like a professional driver. I know where they hide, those police officers. I know their shaded corners, and I know where the fences and houses obscure the view of the side streets. I know how to stay just five miles above the speed limit, so Iâ€™m never conspicuously fast or conspicuously slow. I know how to make the law believe Iâ€™m on their side.
But Iâ€™m a quiet subversive.
When Iâ€™ve successfully evaded the law, certain Iâ€™m in the clear, out comes the phone. On July 1st of this year, the long-feared law came into effect. Youâ€™ve heard about it by now. But you may have heard about it before too, when it seemed just a rumor, the sort of thing youâ€™d find in your inbox, forwarded to you and 117 other people.
The phones. The day the law was enacted, I remember listening to KMJ while driving, the callers sharing horror stories about cell phone driving experiences.
â€œShe cut me off. She cut me off! She wasnâ€™t even watching the road, was just there on her phone, jabbering away like nothing was wrong.â€
This was one phone call.
â€œWe were at the light and it had just turned green, but he was too busy with his conversation to notice.â€
This was another.
Once, they accidentally even gave a libertarian some airtime. â€œWe donâ€™t need another law! Not about this!â€
I donâ€™t find myself agreeing with anything on KMJ, really, even (or maybe especially) when itâ€™s the errant libertarian. But this â€” this was hard not to identify with.
I tried observing the law. I bought a Bluetooth earpiece for my phone, but using it, Iâ€™ve found most of conversations go something like this:
â€œWhat did you say?â€
â€œI canâ€™t understand what youâ€™re sayingâ€”can you repeat that?â€
But the whole thing was just too difficult. Besides, I need to answer my e-mails and text messages â€” and I canâ€™t do that with my earpiece. For that, I need to hold it, need to touch it.
In that moment, listening to an accidental libertarian on a station I canâ€™t stand, I knew that I had to do something. It was in that moment that I decided to become a traffic ninja.
â€œArenâ€™t you afraid of getting fined?â€ some have asked me.
I just look them in the eyes and coolly, scoff. On a student budget, that $20 fine can be a lot of money, but there are times that come along when the cruel tyranny of the oppressor manifests itself as such an egregious abuse of power that we need to stand up, in spite of our fears, and say, â€œWe wonâ€™t take it. We wonâ€™t go with you.â€
I tell them this and they swoon. I tell them this and they stare up at me, their eyes wide with wonder, speechless and in awe.
But of course, Iâ€™m only one man. If I made my disobedience immediately obvious, I would be crushed, both by the financial burden of the cumulative fines and by the ruthlessness of the many packs of moto-cops, patrolling the cruel streets of Fresno.
So, this is how Iâ€™m making it public. Pick up your phones and join me.
Text away, write those e-mails and reject being a slave to your earpiece.
It isnâ€™t good enough for you. It isnâ€™t good enough for us.