BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The last few weeks have reinforced my conviction that the above adage is very apt.
The most recent episode happened when my girlfriend and I went to give blood a few days ago. As usual, when the time came to measure my blood pressure, pulse, and temperature, I alerted the Red Cross staffer that my resting pulse is very low, normally, and that he would have to get me cleared through the nurse in charge. It turns out the procedures had changed since I last gave blood and they were now required to get clearance form a doctor off site.
You probably guessed that this rule-mongering doctor, in the great, though recent, American tradition of using not common sense, ultimately refused to approve my giving blood. This was after I explained to her repeatedly that with I hike, mountain bike, and bicycle to work. Nothing got through her stubbornness. She claimed the FDA had imposed this limitation, but if it was above 45 she would have approved me, but not at 43. She asserted it was for my own good, but never explained why. And, it seems I’m not alone. A quick on-line search turned up many others who had been rejected for the same reason. Yet, I did not find an explanation of the underlying reason for this policy. I told the nurse in charge that in the future, this means I’ll artificially elevate my pulse by tensing up so I can give blood.
The next brand of idiocy has been repeated more than once. About ten days ago, while riding to work, I was in the left lane of traffic since I had to turn left. A large, black, SUV with heavily tinted windows made that buzzing sound at me that police cars have. The second time I heard the sound, I pulled over, thinking I might have done something wrong. That vehicle then proceeded to accelerate rapidly and race off. Moments later, I saw an identical vehicle pulling out of a federal courthouse. This leads me to believe it was saw federal-level enforcement agency’s members who had misbehaved.
But that wasn’t the first time. Glendale PD, LAPD, CA Highway Patrol (on a city street) and the LA Sheriff’s department have seen fit to harass me on at least five other occasions. In all those instances, except for the Glendale case, it was for being in the lane of traffic. This is perfectly legal for a bicycle, and I even sent that part of the California code to the offending deputy. It’s very strange that these people think they know what I should be doing. How utterly presumptuous! How can they know that I have to turn left in half a block? Just because one law says a bicycle should keep to the right whenever possible, it doesn’t mean that different circumstances don’t require different riding behaviors that are equally legal.
The third example is similar to the previous one in that it involves me, bicycles, and an armed man with a perceived “rule” to enforce. A little over two weeks ago, a friend and I bicycled in the fairly steep hills of Glendale. We topped out around nine o’clock and were chatting, with him standing astride his bike and me sitting on the curb in front of the only vacant lot on the street. The views were impressive. The conversation varied. Then, one of those private security patrol cars pulled up and the driver instructed us to leave.
I asked if we were not on a public street. He confirmed it was, but insisted we leave. I told him we would once we were done resting. He insisted, and threatened to call the police. I told him to go ahead. Soon, he turned on the vehicle’s spotlight, shining it directly into my eyes. When I asked him to turn it off since it was blinding, he would not. I moved and sat behind a parked ATV. That’s when I realized I was the one being wronged and proceeded to call the Glendale PD. The woman who answered could do nothing more than ask me basic questions (including if any weapons were involved), advise me to leave (presumably as a way of defusing the situation), and informing me that she couldn’t tell me when the police would arrive (since they were out on a prowler call). A further bit of foolishness occurred when she asked me the security patrol company’s name. We couldn’t see it (remember, there’s a floodlight shining in our eyes). As I approached the car to read its side, the security guy started telling me not to get too close and started backing up, downhill. Finally, he relented and told me the company name.
Soon after, I hung up the phone. The owner of the uppermost house arrived with his son and immediately went to speak with the security guy who was still idling the car in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Then the homeowner approached us, asked our names, and upon hearing them, started speaking Armenian. He had told the security guy that better judgment was needed in assessing situations and people (i.e. me and my friend). He was very friendly and told us not to worry and relax. Soon after, we departed.
I realized that it would be best to complain about this person to his company, but he refused to give me his name. Now more mobile (on the bike) I was able to get his license plate number before coasting downhill. We didn’t get very far before the police cars started arriving. The officers asked us what happened. We told them. A specific question was whether the security guy had pulled out his gun. Then we learned that this particular patrol guy was known for his inappropriate behavior.
The moral of the story is, don’t put up with foolishness disguised as rules. Challenge it. That’s how society improves and Armenia gets liberated.