It’s so easy to turn just about any group of Brandon dwellers into the trolls and gremlins this modern world requires to turn reality into a fairy tale.
Be it "young people," tax collectors, recent immigrants, native folks and non-whites, lawyers, smokers, whatever — the "other" gets lumped in with the wrong-doer of the week to populate our make-believe world with something that we can stand next to and feel righteous.
Crime, as you know, is an activity reserved mostly for criminals, although you’d be surprised by the ordinary people around you, sliding in and out of illicit activities faster than you can turn pages in a picture book.
You yourself can be called a criminal every time you miss the sign that says your car ought to be going 50 kilometres per hour and you’ve just come out of a 70 km/h zone. With a simple misplaced foot on the accelerator, that undone seat belt, the sidelong glance at the cellphone in your cup holder, the legal system is completely in its right to pin your very own name up immediately beside those that punch each other’s faces in public (because they’re drunk), steal from their workplace tills (because they think they deserve it), and commit all manner of deplorable acts of passionate violence (because they are, regrettably, human).
At this very moment, while you restfully read, you might be drifting in and out of criminality, depending on your Internet’s download speed. Maybe you "accidentally" fleeced your taxes. Maybe it was truly an accident — (Brooklyn accent here, please): tell it to the judge. Maybe your backyard table saw, your truck, or your dogs exceed the legal in-city noise limit.
Any of those would make you what a less compassionate person would call one filthy delinquent.
In short, if you find yourself saying things like "we should crack down on crime and lock up the criminals," make very sure you’ve packed up your things accordingly.
Did you know that in Brandon, you can be charged with public mischief for walking over the Eighth Street bridge? A 24-year-old woman found that out the hard way last weekend, even though I’m sure that’s news to each and every one of us who don’t comb the City of Brandon website for secret new rules to heed.
Regardless of how secret the city is keeping their new rule, anyone who has ever had to live with another human being — there’s this thing called "cities" where it happens quite a lot — knows that you can’t just say "you’re not allowed" and expect impractical obedience if there’s no tangible reason for it.
A more compassionate city would understand that the Eighth Street bridge is literally the only downtown to north end connection for blocks and blocks in either direction, which makes a serious time and energy difference for the foot-bound. You would understand the thought process very well if you’ve walked to get somewhere recently.
That massive superstructure on Eighth will outlast each and every one of us in this earthly life, so it probably won’t collapse under the stress of an added 24-year-old trying to get home in the early morning. Although it might depend how many doughnuts she’d eaten that night.
Without automobile traffic, the Eighth Street bridge makes a very attractive pedestrian and cyclist crossing. If only we had some clever people around to see this town for the modern, human-friendly city it could be, and not just an ever-growing go-kart track in the middle of a prairie.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 17, 2014