I jaywalk. A lot. To me, the little red man on the traffic lights is a mere suggestion, a piece of advice. I look to the left, right, and if I can, I make a run for it. And every single time I do it, I manage to catch a glimpse of consternation on the face of at least one senior citizen who is waiting patiently for the light to turn green, even if the road stretches on for miles and there is no car in sight.
A couple of days ago, a Danish friend of mine went to upgrade a driving permit. He was then asked to produce a paper from maistraatti that proved he had been living in Finland for more than a hundred days. Not having this paper, naively enough, my friend tried to circumvent that paragon of wisdom and perfection that is the Finnish bureaucracy by showing his Finnish driver`s license, an official ID that you can only get after having lived here for a good few years and his Kela card, which you can only get if you are a permanent resident. Evidently he was told that would not do. That piece of paper alone was the incontrovertible proof that he hadn`t just arrived in the country that morning on a boat from Copenhagen and rushed to city hall to renew his driving permit.
During first year, on a study night, at eight o`clock I was asked by the guard to leave the library because I did not have a magnetic key. I asked why. She could not tell me. To this day I haven`t got a clue why having that piece of plastic makes the difference between being left to study in peace or getting kicked out of a public library.
I do not mind respecting rules and laws, as long as I can understand their logic. But in Finland the rules seem to work in mysterious ways. Furthermore, rules seem to be respected because they are rules, not in order to produce a certain, desirable outcome that the rule was devised to ensure in the first place.
When I jaywalk, I do it not because I am a criminal intent on bringing about the breakdown of society with my law breaking, but because I realise that traffic lights are there for a reason. They are intended to stop me from crossing the road when cars may hit me. If by using my eyes I reach the conclusion that there are no cars to hit me, traffic lights become redundant and therefore I do not have to “listen” to them just because they are there.
So please, if you ever find yourself in a position of authority, ask yourself why rules exist and what they are supposed to ensure. If there is an alternative through which the same outcome may be achieved, take it! Chances are that you, an intelligent, living, breathing individual are a far better assessor of a situation than some impartial rule from a book. And jaywalk more. It saves time.
The writer is a Romanian degree student who loves reading politics as much as she loves reading Harry Potter.