Why is it at least once a week I turn on the television news and see where some police agency has been in a pursuit? What is wrong with miscreant drivers? Don’t they realize that about 95 percent of them will be apprehended?
I get so angry on many levels, the first being the hazard to seemingly innocent drivers heading to the store, work, or anyplace. I get angry at the lawless attitudes of these punks who think they don’t have to stop for authority. I wish we had some sanctions more stringent than an extra two days in jail or picking up trash on the side of the freeway.
I drove a patrol car for 10 of my 35 police years. The thing I feared most, a vehicle chase, never happened to me. There are too many things out of the control of the pursuing officers, like pedestrians, other cars, and road conditions. The variables were too scary.
If I were a legislator I would propose a bill allowing the arresting officers to inflict immediate punishment to the driver in a car chase. I would allow three minutes of “batting practice,” or “Let’s play piñata.” One officer could hold a stop watch and video camera and the others could wail on the stupid driver with the only prohibition being not to strike above the collarbone.
The government would not be responsible for medical bills of the arrested person. Nor would health insurance claims be honored. If the arrestees couldn’t pay the bill themselves they would be sent home with a roll of duct tape and antibiotic ointment.
I would be called inhumane for proposing this legislation. I might also be called heroic and far-sighted. I would be vilified and canonized at the same time for the same thing. People would question how I could even think of such a remedy. Others would say this kind of genius was long overdue.
Apologists for the driver would wring their hands and give the excuse that he was upset and angry because his wife or girlfriend had just broken up with him. (I don’t have any statistics, but it seems that in almost all of the police pursuits the driver is a man.)
To the accusation of being a barbarian I plead guilty. But, if I see flashing lights behind me I’m pulling to the curb.
• • •
I never intended to be a professional cancer patient. When I became sick I vowed if anyone wrote or said that cliché-ridden line, “He fought a long and courageous battle with cancer” I would haunt them, making their life miserable.
Dealing with this disagreeable condition has been long (February 2009), but it has not been courageous. Hemingway called courage “grace under pressure.” I have shown no grace, and all the pressure has been on my family. The inconvenience and anxiety this has caused my family is unacceptable and I am angry. Nor has it been a “battle.” It has been more of an argument.
I don’t bear this disease cheerfully. Every time I look at myself in the mirror and see that bag hanging out of my stomach (from the colostomy) I ask, “What the hell happened? How did I get this way?” I don’t know. I always took good care of myself and it happened anyway.
If people ask how I am doing, I answer, but I never bring it up. I don’t play “I’ve got a secret,” but neither do I advertise my situation.
Because I let the news out about my sickness and the clinical trials I am undergoing, it is only fair to bring those interested people up to date.
After my eighth week in the clinical trial I had a CT/PET scan. The results were “stable,” one of the few times anything relating to me has been labeled as such. I had another scan after 17 weeks. The results were confusing.
Some of the lesions have shrunk, some have stayed the same, and some have grown. I will continue on with my clinical trials program for a while and then evaluate things again.
Basinski’s column runs the first and third Fridays.