Life is Not Fair

This is a partial quote from John F. Kennedy (did he actually say this? who knows). There is, however, much evidence to support this thesis.

Since this is going to concern driving, I really should start at the beginning. As readers of this blog know, only too well, I was brought up in Queens NY back in the ’50’s. While I was in college, I experienced the rite-of-passage known as getting a learner’s permit to drive. After taking driving lessons, I took my New York State drivers

test…and failed miserably. I failed three more times (mostly due to “poor clutch and gear control”). The family car back then was a standard shift. I finally passed on the fifth try.

Some years later, I met the guy who failed me (on the third try) and passed me (on the fifth). He lived next door to the girl I married. Maybe to make me feel better, he claimed to have flunked Stirling Moss, a famous racecar driver back in the day.

Sometime back, I wrote a blog describing an incident involving a member of my crew on my first ship. The young enlisted sailor was busted for a minor traffic no-no, speeding a few MPH above the speed limit. Unable to pay the instant fine (it was near the end of the month), the sailor spent the night in the hoosgow. I was sent to bail him out, and when we were back aboard ship, the CO had a captain’s mast convened and had the man reduced in rank- for speeding!

At about the same year, I was driving down the main drag from Portsmouth, NH to Boston. I don’t recall some 60 years later how fast I was going, but it was certainly more than my unfortunate shipmate was pulled over for. I gave the trooper my licence, registration and my military ID. Once he had ascertained that I was an officer, he gave me a “warning”, and all but apologized for inconveniencing me!

The only difference between us was I was privileged to go to college to earn a degree, which enabled me to get a commission. He was not. Life isn’t fair.

On the other hand, I once received a physics lecture from a Connecticut state trooper. I was headed down the Turnpike toward New York and (as usual) exceeding the speed limit. I patiently explained that my ship was sailing at midnight on a vital national security mission. The officer patiently explained to me, “Mr. Canaff, you are about 75 miles from your destination. It is 7PM. If you drive at the posted limit, you will be in New York at about 8:15, in plenty of time. Follow me, please”. Didn’t say it always worked.

Once I had completed my military service I resumed my civilian government career. I became a DEA forensic chemist (not even an agent). It was, for the next quarter century, my get-out-of jail-free card. Even though I never carried a gun, I was granted “law enforcement courtesy” during any traffic stops. I could do no wrong!(I never could confirm this, but I heard that FBI types didn’t enjoy this courtesy…just saying).

Eventually, I retired. A few weeks later, I was driving friends to Dulles Airport, and was pulled over. No creds, no courtesy. Got a ticket. Oh well.

Recently, I was snared in a speed trap. Being 84, I shouldn’t do stuff like that, especially as my kids ponder whether to pull my driving priviliges. My son, however, got me off easy. I just had to complete an AARP mature drivers course. He shmoozed with the arresting officer and prosecutor, and got the charges dismissed.

As I said at the beginning, life is not fair.

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