obligations and rights – kept and ignored, preserved and violated

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.

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13 Responses to obligations and rights – kept and ignored, preserved and violated

  1. Lazygal says:

    Wow. I’m so sorry that this happened to you! I’d known that DC cabbies are nuts, but that the police are equally idiotic… Wow.

    Most cab drivers I encounter are lovely, lovely people who want to make their passengers happy. Similarly, most police officers I’ve met are absolute professionals. It just sucks that these two men made the bad apples seem a bit more frequent.

  2. Titania says:

    Holy cow! Sorry to hear that Saturday ended like this, Refugee… It was great to see you though!

    The pleasure was mine.

  3. Christina says:

    That sucked, I am sorry that this happened to you.

    Thank you for your kind thoughts.

  4. magnolia2010 says:

    good GRIEF. there’s no excuse for behavior like that, ever. i really wish small people with nominal authority would stop abusing the public just because they can…

    Even after that evening, I still would like to believe that this is not a rampant activity. I’ve had plenty of other interactions with law enforcement officers that have been positive. I’m trying to think of this as an aberration not the rule.

  5. Vittoria says:

    wow. WOW.

    i’m so sorry. that’s just terrible.

    Thank you, the fear of arrest was all to palpable and citizens should not have to fear their government.

  6. Vie says:

    This was brilliantly written, and a very clever way to voice your issues with the experience.

    Having said that, I’m very sorry you experienced that.

    Thank you. It was an unfortunate end to what was a largely pleasant night.

    • I agree with the above comments, most especially Vie’s words. I’m hoping that you’re forwarding this post to MPD.

      Yeah, they got a letter.

  7. This is really unfortunate – you deserve better. I hope that the DCPD takes note of this post and does something to resolve this issue.

    We all deserve more from law enforcement officials. I have written a letter to the police district commander but don’t have much hope for it going anywhere.

  8. Alice says:

    what? WHAT!? argh… i’m so sorry.

    my bf (who is an attorney) was just telling me a story last night of another attorney he knows who was pulled over for a fake reason, but by virtue of being an attorney (and having had done a lot of research about many things specific to his car) was able to avoid getting a ticket. however, he did so in a rather obnoxious way, which just made the cop more determined to find a reason to ticket him – including following him for 10 minutes after he was forced to let him off to see if he’d fuck up during that time.

    it’s enough to make me want to become a lawyer.

    Knowing the law on this matter – and I am fairly conversant about such things – is of little help. These non-prominent instances of police abuse often go unreported because there is nothing more than the word of one citizen against the word of a police officer.

  9. elle dubya says:

    i know this will sound ridiculous, but the way you wrote this makes me think of those “if you give a mouse a cookie” books.

    also: what happened to you should never have happened to you. i blame it on the ingenue.

    Call me thoroughly uninformed if you will, but, I was unfamiliar with those books until your comment.

  10. LiLu says:

    You mis-tagged this post… it’s not dumb things YOU have done…

    Let’s go drinking.

    My dumb thing was not focusing on his badge number and or the patrol car number.

  11. kitty says:

    this story makes me sad and outraged, but it’s heartwarming to see that you’re able to keep it in perspective, and not stereotype against cab drivers and cops.

    Whenever one uses the behavior of outliers to define the larger, s/he loses some of themselves.

  12. Scarlett says:

    Why do you think the DCPD were so unhelpful?? Just a general unwillingness to mediate ot did they have other things going on? Like stabbings…or a heronine user shooting up in front of them….or someone jay walking??

    I have to believe that this was a single officer behaving poorly because he decided he had better things to do with his time.

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