Saturday, October 30, 2010
(PICTURE: My favorite google image that came up for "citizens arrest.")
I remember once my family was driving down the highway when some lunatic nearly swerved into us on the highway. The guy was going way over the speed limit and was swerving from one lane to the other. After my mom screamed, "Oh my god" or "Oy ve" or something like that she immediately dialed up 911 on her cell phone to tell the police there was a drunk driver on the highway. A few years later while living in LA, mother-like-son, I called 911 to report a drunk driver on the 405. While neither of these was a citizens arrest, I'd like to think that we helped get someone arrested for clearly violating the law and endangering others.
That's all a long way of asking, does anyone know if one can make a citizens arrest in Vietnam? Four times in the last twenty four hours, I found myself on the verge of taking the law into my own hands. All four times though I wussed out thinking that I'd end up getting into more trouble than the dudes I'd be helping to arrest. Here's the four situations:
Situation 1: While waiting at a traffic light, two speedsters without helmets blew by everyone and made a legal right hand turn in a right-turn-only lane that was separated by a small concrete island. However, their driving was clearly dangerous and they weren't wearing helmets. I smiled to myself as I saw a cop standing in the right-turn-only lane where they turned. The driver hit the brakes about fifteen feet from the cop and then jumped the curb on the traffic island to avoid the cop. While jumping the curb the driver was only about ten feet from me. The lazy cop didn't pursue the guy although he clearly could have caught them as they had to slowly get down from the island which was about a foot off the ground. Every nerve in my body wanted to drive up ten feet and block the path of these guys. However, again, I wussed out. Instead the guys jumped down the curb and sped through an extremely busy four way intersection nearly crashing into a handful of other people.
Situation 2: This was basically the same deal. Two idiots (no more than 17 as they were wearing high school uniforms) again without helmets FLEW through a four way intersection. They actually just barely dodged a nightstick wielding cop and then turned into the flow of traffic that I was in. They just barely avoided nailing a woman on a motorbike and then a fifty year old man. They had to basically come to a short stop right in front of me. Again, every part of me wanted to slam on my brakes and block the road from these two teenage punks. The thing is though, I looked at the cop who was standing about thirty feet away doing nothing. The moment played out in my head that the cop would arrest me for disturbing rush hour traffic rather than patting me on the back for grabbing these guys who were going to kill themselves or worse, somebody else.
Situation 3: I was driving down the road when I heard a high pitched voice yell, "HEEEEELLLLLO." I turned to my left and saw THREE teenagers without helmets on a motorbike. I would two of the three kids were about fifteen or sixteen. The other one was probably thirteen...and yes, he was the driver. I turned to the kids who began riding besides me and said, "You're way too young to be driving a motorbike." Clearly they didn't understand me and just said, "Goodbye" and absolutely flew down the road. I'm not sure how I could have made a citizens arrest on these kids since they were clearly driving at speeds I'm not comfortable driving at. However, I wanted to chase them...but didn't.
Situation 4: Another helmet-less, idiot racer flew by me while darting in and out of traffic. Unlike his fellow moronic racers though, this guy actually stopped at a red light. Whereas in the other three situations I had only a split second or two to make a decision, in this case I had a full minute to debate on taking action. What I wanted to do in this case (and I learned this move from a cop I saw do it a month ago) was walk up to the guy's bike and just pull out his keys. Truthfully though I didn't want to arrest this guy. I just thought about taking out his keys and chucking them over the high fence of the Temple of Literature.
I'm clearly writing this blog to make myself feel better for being such a wuss. However, I'm just too nervous in Vietnam to try and take the law into my own hands. All this is to say though, watch out Americans! When I come back to the states, I'm gonna be itching to make some citizen's arrests!