Tuesday, 30 March 2010

It's just another day in the life.

It has been an interesting morning. Mags and myself ride a motorcycle into work each day. We do this because on the bike takes 40 mins. However, in the car takes an hour and a half. The time saving comes from filtering past long queues of traffic. People don't realise that it is perfectly legal for motorcycles to filter past standing and slow moving traffic. In fact it is in the highway code. But I suspect most people don't read that after passing their driving test.

  • The Highway Code - Online version. This version has been adapted for online use from the Department for Transport's current printed version of the Highway Code. In any proceedings, whether civil or criminal, only the Department for Transport's current printed version of the Code should be relied upon.

Today was one of those days, when someone coming the other way takes exception to us filtering. Normally we just take it in our stride. However, today a driver deliberately swerved into our path and we had to swerve to avoid a head-on collision. As he drove off I could clearly see him laughing. I turned the bike around and filtered through traffic to catch up with him a short distance down the road. I was able to get ahead of the car and we came to a stop in the heavy traffic. I got off the bike to go and have a word with the driver!

We both wear hi-vis clothing whenever we go out on the motorcycle and always ride with the headlamp on. The driver thought we were the police saying something about me not recognising me as being a member of SYP. At this point he was very apologetic, saying your lights dazzled me and I could not see where I was going. I said "do you always swerve towards any lights that dazzle?" he was lost for words and continued to apologise.

However, when I pointed out I was not a police officer - he immediately turned quite nasty and objectionable. Then he started to get very agitated and threatening. It was at this point when a traffic police officer turned up. I had a word with him, and told him what had just happened. The officer said would you like me to have a word with him. I answered yes. The officer took the details of the driver, and as I gave him my details the car driver said - "oh there from Barnsley that's where all the idiots come from". The officer asked him not to say any more.

Quick as a flash, he comes back saying - now I get it - it's racist - three white blokes and one Asian guy. (Mags said gender recognition was obviously not his strongest suit) The officer was somewhat less than impressed and cautioned him to think carefully about the accusations he was making. The officer then said I will deal with this, I presume you are you on your way to work? I said yes - we both work at the University where we work with thousands of Asian students. The Asian driver realised the game was up, so we were allowed on our way, leaving the officer to have a word with the driver.

As we made our way to work we realised how professional courteous and helpful the officer had been. So later, I wrote to SYP saying what a frightening experience it had been and pointing out the exemplary conduct of the officer.

It easy and seemingly expected for ethnic minorities to blame the police for anything these days. Accusations of racism must be a part of the everyday job. However, this officer stayed calm, collected and professional throughout. So next time you need a helping hand from the professionals remember our little tale. It's always a tightrope that they have to walk. I would not swap my job with theirs not even for a solid gold pig.

Time for a coffee....


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