I am a fan of enumerated rights and clear obligations… for example:
I am obliged to attend friends’ 30th birthday parties… on roof decks… with stunning 360 degree views… and great company.
I am obliged to accept dates from long-lashed ingénues when asked.
The aforementioned ingénue has an absolute right to cancel at the last minute and by accidental extension make me look supremely over-dressed for that rooftop party that was to be my precursory activity.
I have an absolute right to contend (against all evidence and beliefs of friends) that it was the canceled date that made me over-dressed rather than my natural proclivity.
I have a right to choose extending my night by drinking with my favorite bartender and one of my favorite people.
I have an obligation not to accept the advances of the very tipsy girl who is overly flirtatious with me because her almost-last-call-sensor is ringing like a church bell, or she is expressing latent daddy-issues due to proximity to father’s day and a man more than fifteen years her senior.
I have a right to go onto the sidewalk and hail a cab without being ignored by drivers of empty cabs, or being unduly questioned about my destination before being granted admittance to said cab.
I have an obligation not to become testy when empty cabs keep passin’ me by in search of faster and presumably more lucrative fares of large groups.
Cab drivers have an obligation to know where they’re going and I have lesser obligation to calmly provide direction when they don’t.
All passengers have a right to certain conditions for that ride (heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, a silent ride if they choose.)
I am obliged to courteously request a cessation of music being played at ear splitting volumes.
I am obliged to courteously repeat said requests, and a right, guaranteed by law, to expect that said request be honored.
I have a right to indicate that payment will be withheld unless transportation occurs in a manner dictated by law, and a further right to have such disputes mediated by law enforcement officials should a satisfactory agreement not be reached.
Law enforcement officials have an obligation to mediate such disputes without histrionics.
Law enforcement officials have an unmitigated obligation to protect and serve the public while enforcing the laws they are sworn to uphold.
I have several constitutionally guaranteed rights not to be threatened with arrest simply for asking that law enforcement officials do their jobs.
I have additional rights not to have handcuffs produced and told “either get back in the cab or go to jail… right now” when I am breaking no laws.
I have a right not to have the fear of false arrest with an officer producing handcuffs before I have completed two sentences of explanation of the problem.
Police officers have obligation not to foment or underscore the negative stereotypes about themselves.
Knowledge of these rights and obligations does nothing to ease discomfit with the notion that either fear of arrest, or lack of time prevented me from getting a badge number. Nor will that knowledge quell the disquieting erosion of my frequent defense of police officers as a heroic and underpaid lot of civil servants who are too frequently and unfairly tarnished by the actions of a few bad operators… your tarnish just became slightly more fair.