Advance Warning

The red Ford Pick-up came around the curve at about 40 miles per hour. As soon as I was sure he could see me, I flicked my brights on and off. He waved as he went by and I could see him tap his brakes in my rear view mirror.

“Why did you do that,” my companion asked with obvious disgust.

“Didn’t you see the cop with the radar gun back there?”

“You shouldn’t do that” she said as if I had just been caught shoplifting. “It’s wrong. It’s against the law.”

Oh here we go again. Black and white. Heaven and hell. Good vs. evil. Right and wrong. The world as seen by an absolutist. The next ten minutes will be filled with the cultural differences between us. It could be her religious background. Who knows?

My views are different. I believe that locked doors keep honest people honest. Trust everyone, but count your change. These are words to live by. I always flick my lights to advise other drivers of an upcoming speed trap. To me, it makes sense.

First of all, I believe that the policeman’s function is to keep us safe, not to dispense speeding tickets. I drive through a section of the Metroparks everyday on the way to my office. On a sunny weekday morning in April the road is empty, dry and a wonderful challenge. I’ve been known to run my Mazda through the park like Paul Newman through Le Mans.

The summer is different. Only dogs and joggers run in front of more cars than eight year olds. And the park is full of all of them. Driving through the park is a series of starts and stops with occasional stretches of open road perfect for sightseeing. The ever-present Metropark patrolman sets up shop at one of three spots. Having never talked with him, I don’t know how he views his mission, but, if he’s busy ticketing someone going 34 in a 30 zone, he’s not going to slow the driver buzzing by at 45. That’s the way it works. Properly warned, most drivers will maintain the speed limit through the park. Safety achieved, even if no ticket is written.

I flicked my lights at the upcoming cars. The old man in the beige skylark stared at me blankly. The lady driving the station wagon filled with little leaguers smiled and waved. And Heaven and Hell moved just a smidgeon closer together.