Dicks In Power

by / 26/04/04

Mrs Le Strange is making her weekly trip into Wellington for a spot of shopping. She parks just off Lambton Quay, but, realising she has no coins to put in the parking meter, she dashes off to the nearest shop to get some money. “Sorry,” says the bitch shop lady, “we don’t give out money for parking meters.” So Mrs Le Strange dashes to the next shop where she buys a pack of gum and gets out $2 on her eftpos. By the time she dashes back to the car with the money, she has a parking ticket for FORTY DOLLARS sitting on her bonnet.

Look, I wasn’t even there and I feel like crying whenever I hear that story. Forty dollars. Think of what you can buy with forty dollars. That’s like, thirty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Or twenty Vs. Or a bottle of really good gin.

So anyway, I told Mum she should write a letter to the council, but of course there’s absolutely no point because the council doesn’t give a crap about your excuses and you still have to pay the forty bucks. Bastards.

The other thing that really gets to me about parking wardens is when you get a ticket and your car is surrounded by empty parking spaces. Meaning, you are not taking up someone else’s park. Meaning, you are not hurting anyone. But these guys work on commission. It makes them ruthless and completely lacking in discretion, in the same way that police have to give out so many speeding tickets a day or whatever. They generally target your average, employed, middle-class citizen, knowing that they’re going to actually pay the speeding ticket. Boy racers can get their speeding debts erased by doing a few days’ community service.

I love the sly little tricks that highway police pull. A classic is the overtaking-gotcha! technique, where you might be driving along the motorway at 100kms and the person in front of you is doing 95, so you speed up to pass them, and you’re snapped. Now, I’ve only been driving for eight years but I was under the impression that when you pass somebody, you do it as quickly and safely as possible and get back onto your side of the road. If you cruised past that 95 person on 100kms, it would not be a quick and safe overtake. It would be a slow and excruciatingly painful one.

You know what else I hate? Slow drivers. SLOW DRIVERS MAKE ME ANGRY. And even worse than slow drivers are the slow drivers who suddenly speed up when you try to pass them. This is enough to drive anybody to road rage. I am a mild-mannered and courteous person but I have been known to pull the fingers at slow drivers. Personally I think that slow drivers are more likely to cause accidents than fast drivers. Certainly they cause way more rage, which is dangerous, because people stop concentrating on their driving when they’re full of rage. So why aren’t cops giving tickets to dangerous slow drivers? I refuse to believe that cops don’t get pissed off with slow drivers as well.

I hate it when you try and reason with a cop – e.g. he says “do you know how fast you were going?” and you say “fast enough to get past that slow guy quickly and safely” and they get all shitty with you and start checking your registration, your licence, your tail lights (invariably smashing one out just so they can give you a fine) – anything they can find to nail you with a bigger fine. I just cannot stand power tripping, let alone exploiting power. I think there are way too many petty cops and parking wardens out there just yearning to get someone – they lick their lips in anticipation of slapping on that fine. It’s disgusting.

Now I am lucky that I haven’t come across too many power-trippers during my time at Vic, but I have friends who tell me about tutors who “are bitter about not being lecturers, so they exercise their power in tutorials.” Because let’s face it, when your tutor gives you a crap mark for tutorial participation, what can you do about it? Argue with them?
I remember in high school being picked on by power-hungry prefects and school leaders who’d make you put down your books and tuck in your shirt, or make you get to the back of the lunch line. By the time I got to seventh form I was so anti-ego that I just ignored the untucked shirts (thinking that there were bigger issues in this world) and got into trouble for that!

Admittedly I don’t live in a world where some sadistic psychopath is murdering my friends and family for being black or white or tall or short or Jew or Gentile or whatever. It’s not like Helen Clark is George Bush and sending us off to war (the Americans may be able to claim Viggo, Brad and Britney as their own but when God was handing out world leaders they sure got the short straw). I do believe that in every situation, a leader, or a person in a position of power, should be compassionate, trustworthy, intelligent and have discretion. And if the highlight of your day is giving someone a petty fine, then you are a very sad individual indeed. I just can’t stand those dicks in power. Bet they’re really small, too.

Speaking of small, for a very small price ($5) you can get your hair cut by my boyfriend Ben and his flatmate Rob. They specialise in short back and sides. (Not recommended for girls with long hair.) Book an appointment by emailing: emilielestrange [at] hotmail.com.

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