23 October 2008

Citizen cop

I would like to issue citations and levy fines for the following -

                       * littering
                       * smoking in public
                       * peeing in public

Actually I have a much longer list but these are my top three picks. What are yours?

I have three interesting experiences with litterers. Two of them happened on the bus. The ladies I sat next to promptly discarded their items (one packet chips and one ice cream cup) right through the window on the head of some unsuspecting motorist. My usual opening line in this situation is to ask them if they would like it if someone littered the same stuff outside their homes. I get a smile and oh ho, just forget about it! One woman assured me that other people do it so it's OK. Both looked embarrassed but regarded it a crime one step less than stepping on an ant. The thrid experience I had was with an SUV driver at a traffic light who pushed some swanky button to roll down his window and threw a bill out, cooly pushing same swanky button to roll the window up again.  I brought my scooter up to his window and went tap, tap, tap. Window down. Oh, mister why did you litter? Shouldn't educated people like you not abuse public property?  Window up. Tap, tap, tap I went again. Don't you feel ashamed of littering? This time the voice spoke, " Look it's happened already and it's only a piece of paper." Wah, kya logic!
I think this whole habit of littering has what has got us into the mess of pile high garbage in any place.  Shouldn't we say something?
Smoking in public is another pet peeve. The way I see it: smokers have consigned their lung epithelia to an early apoptotic death so why invite me along for the ride? Thanks to the latest govt. ban on smoking, enforcing this is way easier and most smokers look quite guilty with their puffed faces anyway so a gentle rebuke is all it takes for them to saunter away. Doesn't exactly solve the problem because the smoke is now in someone else's face!
Peeing in public seems to be an activity generally males indulge in. Yes, we lack easily accessible clean toilets in our cities. But how did this become so acceptable that I see well dressed youth stop their scooters, get off and pee on a boundary wall all the while making their pillion rider (usually a female) wait on the street with the parked vehicle? It's an epidemic. I have seen men in twos and threes peeing at the same wall. My first thought was to call my project the PP project (PeePee or Prevent Peeing; get it?) and launch a public campaign against offenders. I thought public humiliation was the way to go but due to the lack of nerve and a good video camera this plan has faltered. Besides talking to a man while he is peeing is quite awkward! So it's back to plastering pee spots with pictures of the divine gods who rule us.
The second part to this discussion as I see it is - Why should I be allowed to issue citations? Well, it is true that I neither litter nor smoke/ pee in public. But as far as an offender is concerned I might be issuing them a citation after having discarded my empty cigarette packet on the street and enjoying a smoke while I peed around the corner. So what should the qualifications be for this Citizen Cop? Here are my random suggestions:
                 * they should have a clean chit from the Income tax dept for the last 5 years. Don't pay taxes? Too bad, you don't qualify. Yeah, life's not fair.
                  * they should have voted in at least one state or lok sabha election.
                  * they should know the bus numbers to their locality.
                  * they should know the local language.
                  * anyone over the age of 80 qualifies instantaneously.
            * if found littering, peeing or smoking in public their driving license is revoked and passport impounded for 2 years. 
                * All citations to be accompanied by a picture of the offensee committing the offense. Camera to be purchased and maintained by citizen cop herself, at her expense. 

I invite readers to send in their ideas for a qualifications. I'm sure in true indian ishtyle we can brand and package this idea effectively and, never actually get around to changing anything. Who's game? I think I have an idea for the logo already - a crumpled looking piece of paper, yellow and surrounded by smoke rings...



  1. I agree with the issues. No spitting, no smoking in the public, not becoming too horny while driving, reducing the use of plastic, littering cetera.

    But wait...Remove the bit on the 'social' peeing. It has, and I think Abbe might have got it but didn't mention in the book, many significant contributions. Makes the general public stay away from dark dingy corners, helps spread some pheromones and mark territories (though often confusing people around) and not overburdening the Sulabh networks.

    But most importantly, it so useful after a tummy full of beer! The fresh air, the relaxed feeling of freeeedom! ;)


  2. How come peeing is not your pet peeve?


  3. I totally agree with the peeing thing. They not just pee, they use the same hand to blow their noses in the same pee spot and then they go shake hands with someone with that very hand!
    Perhaps I should order a few hazaar boxes of Hand Sanitizer from Costco- will that help the PP Project? ;)

  4. The qualification list makes a lot of sense ! I've often thought about this and usually gotten stuck at the stage of -- what gives me the right to police others.

  5. Hmm...

    @mannsahib spoken like a true blue blood XY chromosome. what about for a chick with her tummy full of beer? more dark dingy corners?

    @QV nice play on words!

    @Abhilasha certainly the citizen cop who is part of the PP project could use a dozen boxes of hand sanitizers?

    @VK the qualification list I have drawn up excludes me as well!