I’m not saying we always thought we were doing the Right Thing. But we never thought we were wrong. There were times we were unsure but we soldiered on; times our faith wavered, bringing forth the briefest of pauses.
But we never let it show.
We were on the side of The Righteous, The Good and The True. Revolution was in the air and we were the ones wafting it. Take a deep breath, world, do you smell what we’re cooking? We’re not following a recipe, this is home cooking. But new. And experimental. New Home-Fusion Cooking; Hope You’re Hungry!
We started small. More trash bins (the kind with the separate slots for recycling paper and plastic), more crosswalks and more signage around those crosswalks. More bike lanes, of course, but we painted them purple and yellow! Visible AND trendy. Bikes Are The New Black, we said.
We demanded more fines and tickets be issued; tickets for running yellow lights, fines for cat calling women, a summons for extraneous horn blowing (anything more than a light single or double toot if the driver in front of you has zoned out and hasn’t noticed the light change). A serious citation for dumping your old couch in front of your neighbour’s house in the middle of the night to be peed on and adopted by students. We dreamed of a Conscientious City.
A City For Her Inhabitants, By Her Inhabitants.
And it was happening. I mean, really happening. The small changes were making a big difference. The streets were quieter, almost Tighter. More biking meant a more fit and attractive populace, which lead to an increase in attractive couples strolling arm in arm down the street, which lead to an increase in attractive couples strolling arm in arm down the street pushing attractive baby strollers filled with attractive babies. We, as A City, were finally getting It together and it was all thanks to Us.
But we weren’t satisfied.
Improvement. There’s Always Room For Improvement!
Hugs, Not Spark Plugs. Kisses, Not Transmissions. Make Bike, Not Car!
Nothing Is Sucking Like Chucking Your Cigarette Butts On The Street!
Your Colleague’s New Car May Mean He's Not Paying His Taxes: If You See Something, Say Something!
Don’t Drag Your Feet, Give Up Your Seat For The Old And Incomplete!
I Think Before I BM! (Anti street deification campaign)
And with these slogans, more fines;
Cutting in line –€100
Not Greeting A Customer With A Smile –€75
Not Responding In Kind To Proffered Smile –€75
Sure, some of these fines were excessive, some uncomfortably specific, but we had to do it. If the public at large cannot Improve Themselves, we will help them along. All we have to do is get them in The Habit. Once The Habit is installed, abolish the fines and we can all go about enjoying our new Super Clean, Super Polite, Super Attractive, Super Bike Friendly City.
But all of our Super Improvements gave rise to a new problem: Not Enough Police.
We Need More Cops –The Price Of Improvement Is High!
The ticket for Throwing Old Shoes And A Deflated Soccer Ball Onto A Neighbour’s Roof wasn’t just going to magically appear in the offender’s hand. We needed more man power –foot patrols, cameras, the works. But no matter how many cruisers we put on the streets, no matter how many infrared pee detectors we put in parking lot corners, They were still getting away with it. Every bench dozing homeless man, every horn honked in fury was an insult to Us and Our City. We could not stand for it. Those Who Care Less Must Be Punished. The Irresponsible Must Pay. It was time the deadbeats who didn’t give a damn about Our City and Her Children paid the price, just as we had paid the price by accommodating their capricious and inconsiderate wills for so long.
A Ticket For Every Broken Law And A Cop For Every Corner!
But there weren’t enough cops for every corner.
So we Deputized Everybody.
Make Everyone A Cop!
It was so simple. Everybody over the age of 18 was issued a badge and a hat (optional) and their very own Personal Ticket Ledger complete with Detachable Pen and the power to Punish Any Infractions Witnessed.
Dog Poop Not Scooped: €125
Fries Not Made Fresh: €95
The Power To Enact Change Is Finally And Totally In Our Hands.
We The People Run The City.
The speed at which Our City moved from the Lovely Vista As Seen Through The Window Of An Ikea Catalogue Demo Kitchen to World War III/Super Death Race To The Bottom/No Offender Left Alive was astounding.
Cop 1 issues Cop 2 a ticket for Spitting Gum On The Street (€65). Cop 2 responds by issuing Cop 1 a ticket for Being An Uptight Dick (€145). Cop 1 reciprocates with a ticket for Inventing Laws Like A Whiney Little Bitch Who Can’t Admit When He’s Done Something Wrong (€467). Cop 2 tries to arrest Cop 1 for Refusing To Stop Being An Uptight Dick. Cop 1 tazes Cop 2. Cop 3 shoots Cop 1 for Assaulting An Officer and Resisting Arrest and Cop 2 for Lying Down In The Street And Moving Inappropriately. Cop 3 is promptly shot for Being Black. And so forth.
Fast forward three gunfire filled weeks and here we are: a straggly band of self-deputized lawmen lording over streets populated with nothing but corpses and the tumble weeds of unpaid tickets. The colour coded trash bins lay empty; their blue and yellow mouths agape, seeming to laugh at us. Attractive baby strollers abandoned and scattered like so much detritus and shrapnel. Purple and yellow bike lanes? Babble of the naive and gullible.
Improvement, Our Moby-Dickian White Whale And We, Its Don Quixote.
We are nothing but a mixed metaphor now; muddled and overreaching, our pride eclipsing our purpose. We were tilting at windmills while the whale got away.
Or perhaps we have merely fallen from our horses and are just waiting for our faithful Sancho Panza to help us back up; A Friend To Boost Us And Show Us The Way. And while he’s helping us, maybe he can give us a few pointers on where we went wrong and how we could do better in the future.
This is all just a case of it being Darkest Before The Dawn. This inconvenient mess of death and subpoenas is nothing more than waves thrown up by the Great Moby Dick Of Progress as We trail Her; a sign that We are close enough to feel Her. And If We’re Close Enough To Feel Her, Are We Not Close Enough To Touch Her? To Slay Her?
YES! Steady On, FRIENDS! Improvement Is On The Run And She Runs From Us! Sharpen Your Spears, The Behemoth Of Betterment Is In Our Sights!
The last kind words: met de nodige ironie zet Sandy Williams telkens een pointe achter het dossier.
Sandy Williams (1979) is a dancer and choreographer living in Brussels. Even though he (he’s a he) is Canadian.^ Terug naar boven