Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NYC Taxi Cops

This Saturday night, I was in New York City, in a car on the east village. I only have a couple of friends with cars in the city and the reasons are very clear why that is. The traffic is decently slow, the streets are small and the parking is non-existent (it definitely feels like Shenzhen). We were trying to go to a friend’s place, but we couldn't find a place to park. Instead of just parking anywhere and not worry about the non-existent tickets that would result, if I were in Shenzhen, we drove up and down street after street, only to find fire hydrants open.

After 10 minutes of looking, we were disgruntled but not defeated. We decided to go a little bit further away to try our luck. While stopped at a right light, attempting to turn right (there’s no turn on red in all of NYC), a yellow cab suddenly came out of nowhere and ran the red light. While it passed the intersection, however, it turned on what seemed like custom-made lights inside that flashed red and blue. My friend and I both thought that it was a taxi that was pretending to be a police officer so that it could get away with violating traffic laws (a very smart idea if it was). Instead, it was just the opposite, it was a police officer, undercover, pretending to be a taxi cab.

The third person in our car explained to us that there have been a growing number of these “undercover” police cabs in the city. They are there not to protect against terrorists or anything of that sort. They are there to catch possible traffic law offenders while blending into the background. They have the ability to issue tickets for parking, speeding, running lights, ect.

This is amazing. Let’s analyze:

  • It is the perfect way to see what is actually going on by blending into the background. People act differently when there are people of authority around. This reminds me of my perspective and situation in Shenzhen (and the title of this blog). Haha.
  • How did this not happen earlier? Air Marshals are on airplanes. Undercover police are on subways pretending to be beggars. It’s about time the police disguised themselves on the street.
  • I’ve described this experience with a bunch of different people. In my limited sampling, it seems that NO ONE knows this is actually happening. I guess it’s a new thing.
  • Talk about irony. When people refer to China, they always talk about how it is an authoritarian police state. However, if your actually in China, you never see police anywhere. Compare that now to the United States. This beacon of freedom and democracy has police hiding in taxi cabs. Wow.
  • China should learn from this. There should definitely be more police on the street in China. Maybe then, the amount of traffic violations and traffic jams caused would decrease.

While talking to my friends who live in NYC, there is a consistent feeling of more and more of their rights slowly disappearing. Is this in the name of safety and terrorism? I don't know. I do know that it feels pretty free in China and taxis run red lights at night without other taxis chasing it down.


Anonymous said...

Stocks, Freedom, Education - let's face it, U.S. is heading down. Just like with Chinese, my Russian-American circles used immigrate to U.S. and then build their future there. Now I look and see how they go to Stanford, Harvard, etc.., only to then return back to Moscow where the money is. It's all sad from one point of view, but then I'm quite glad I'm Russian-American and had time to experience China over the last few years.

Mike said...

yea, i agree. they are very similar.

The thing is that although I think it is a bigger trend to be educated in Europe or the US, then going back to one's country for the career, i still think that its much more challenging and interesting to make it in the American culture/society.

When you go home with an education from an Ivy, you are looked high upon. You can also speak the language and know the culture. More importantly, there is no discrimination towards you. With the same degree and building the career in the US creates an atmosphere that's almost stacked against you in many ways. I like that myself. It can be thought of where the home becomes "too easy".