There are some very important things going on in Washington at the moment. The Falklands crisis is being discussed and negotiations over the budget are still being conducted and, of course, the Middle East situation occupies us all. Still and all, I ask the question: What happens to the cops in the rain?
I ask this question in an extremely foul mood, having just completed my Monday morning car pool to school. This trip, which normally takes a half hour at the most, took more than an hour. This was because it was raining and when it rains a number of things happen. In the first place, every person in the Washington area who has been told by their doctor not to drive, feels a strange compulsion to drive.
And not just anywhere at any time. The compulsion is to drive between 8 a.m. and 9 and then only in downtown. The voice that tells these people to drive also tells them that if they turn on their lights, they will be immune from accidents, not to mention injury and death which, it goes without saying, they so richly deserve.
The second thing that happens in the T rain is that all the cops go somewhere and hide. You can drive the length and breadth of Washington (a feat that in the rain can take a week or more) and not find a cop. You will not see one walking a beat and you will not see one on their cute little motor scooters and you will not see them in their cruisers. I think they are afraid of getting wet.
As a consequence, the people who think that headlights make them immune from death take over the road. They turn without signaling. They make left turns where they are prohibited. They make right turns from the left-hand lane. They never drive over 10 miles an hour unless approaching an intersection. Then they gun their car and either run the light or block the intersection, sitting there with stupid looks on their stupid faces as if the whole thing were not their fault.
Other drivers do pretty much as they please. They park where they are not supposed to, blocking lanes, congesting traffic and, if I might say so, making my life miserable. Vans simply park wherever the hell they want. I think that it is against the Code of The Van Owner to park legally. It is of course apparent that no truck driver is ever allowed to park at the curb when he can, with even more effort, double park.
All this can be done with absolute impunity. The reason for this is that from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on most days, and on all rainy days, there are no cops in Washington. No one in the entire history of Washington has ever been ticketed in the morning for double parking or for making an illegal turn. Look it up. The only thing you can be ticketed for is speeding. If you can speed in downtown Washington on a rainy day you ought to get a commendation, not a ticket.
I know that I will hear from the mayor of I us all who will read me the statistics on how many cops were out there in the rain yesterday. I will also hear from the police chief who will remind me that his budget has been slashed, that he needs more cops and that the ones he has are all out on the street fighting crime, busting dope dealers, running Sting operations and delivering water bills. The fact remains that you could drive all over downtown Washington yesterday and not see a single cop. They were hiding.
If they were not hiding, they could have been directing traffic. They could have kept the jerks from blocking the intersections by, at the very least, executing them on the spot. They could have ticketed the vans that were double-parked and then, maybe, thrown dynamite sticks into them. They could have impounded all the beer trucks parked before all the bars, making deliveries of stuff no one should be drinking at that hour of the morning. God does not want beer delivered in the rush hour. Get it straight.
If the cops had been out, they could have countermanded the lights and seen with their own little eyes what the traffic situation was -- and then decided who should go and who should stay. They could have forbidden people from double-parking and they could have, at the very least, towed the rental car that was illegally parked on L Street, blocking one lane. They know which one it was. The one down the block from the police station.