Staying in the closet on speeding

Warning: This post contains sweeping generalisations and I know it.

Here’s a picture of Wile E. Coyote coming to terms with gravity. It’s an apt illustration because I’m writing about drivers who speed like the Roadrunner and perceive the real world a bit like Wile E. Coyote's cartoon world, with the sort of upside-down logic that goes with it.

When there’s a staffroom conversation about Nigel who got a speeding ticket or Nicole who pranged her car for the third time I go and hide in a cupboard because I know I will only say something like, ‘well, Nigel, you don’t like getting tickets? So don’t break the speed limit! Please?’ or ‘Nicole, have you considered switching to public transport until you learn to drive?’ and thus find myself single-handedly responsible for the revival of lynching in the 21st century.

Paraphrasing Yogi Berra - ‘you can hear a lot just by listening’ - so that’s what I do when I’m in that cupboard with my ear pressed to the door.

Here’s a snippet of Nicole recounting her walk-away crash last night.

‘…the bend just came up on me… is there someone in that cupboard?’

The bend came up on her? So is it the case that cars actually remain motionless while the ground moves beneath them, and sometimes the ground decides to makes things interesting by spinning under you, or trees just come to life and give your car a vicious thump as you pass? What is this, The Wizard of Oz meets Wacky Races?

‘… I got flashed by another speed camera… yeah, Mr Socks is hiding in there, what’s wrong with him?' says Nigel.

This 'I got flashed by a speed camera' is a phrase criminal drivers love because it subtly shifts blame from them breaking the law to the speed camera which records them doing it.

It's a short-hand way of saying:

'I was driving along then there was a bright flash which startled me, and that made me put my foot down on the gas so I went over the speed limit, and I'll be damned, the camera took a photo and then the police fitted me up and gave me a ticket for speeding!'

Nigel and those like him in school staffrooms and pubs up and down the land avoid honest statements like 'I was speeding and I got caught' because that would leave them just short of admitting that they knowingly and willfully broke the law - which is one thing these white-collar criminals will never acknowledge. Because some laws just don't apply to them.

Here's a proper writer with a sobering story about speeding.

And here's the article about road-criminals that inspired me to take some of your valuable time with my views. It uses very mild language - curiously insisting on referring to criminals as 'drivers', but obviously the BBC doesn't want to alienate half a million of its potential audience (or about 1 in 120 people in this country).

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