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Rules Don't Apply To Me

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Every day brings fresh news of international terrorism. Television brings us face to face with violence across the world: suicide bombings, car bombings, improvised explosive devices, pipeline sabotage, hostage taking, mass executions, and wanton genocide. Newspapers force us to suffer our imagination. Both fill us with a headline-induced anxiety and a fear of things that will almost certainly never affect us personally.

But why does no one cover the terrorism that does affect us personally, that exists in our daily lives, and is steadily on the rise? You know the terrorism I'm talking about, the kind perpetrated by a certain type of person with a certain type of personality, known as the 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' personality. I don't know about you, but quite frankly Osama bin Laden brings far less fear into my everyday life than do 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people.

'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people are running rampant in our country and wreaking havoc everywhere they go. While most of us follow the rules, these people seem to believe that there's an exception for every rule, and by the grace of God they are it. As a group, these people are responsible for more rudeness, more bad behavior, and more terror than any group in America, and my feeling is that if politicians in Washington want to protect me from anyone, I want it to be these people. The first one who says he or she will gets my vote.

'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people are not hard to find. Their favorite place to terrorize is on the road. 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people are the ones driving through the red light at every intersection. Dear reader, you know this is no exaggeration. It's the rare intersection anymore where no one brazenly runs the red. What was once a cause for exclaiming to your passenger "Wow! Did you see that guy? He just ran a red light!" is now the norm, not worthy of anything more than yet another wistful shake of the head at the sad state of our world today.

So expected is it, in fact, that a 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' person will run the red light that most of us know not to heed the urging of the green light to "go" until the yellow light is almost turned, to the ire of fifty drivers waiting behind us. Except, of course, for those 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people back there who plan on going through the intersection anyway, no matter what color the light.

'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people are also the ones who pull out or merge into oncoming traffic no matter how fast or how nonexistent the space to accommodate them, and no matter how many pedestrians or bicyclists are in the crosswalk. "I frankly don't care if my action causes a chain reaction that endangers the lives and limbs of dozens of you rule-abiding people. You WILL make room for ME!" the 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' person thinks. He knows it'll be the guy two cars back that gets ticketed, for rear-ending the guy in front of him who slammed on his brakes to avoid rear-ending the 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' person, who is already home and walking his dog and letting it poop in the neighbor's yard by the time the police reach the scene of the accident.

And what happens when you glare or honk your horn at them for endangering your life? The 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' person becomes quite indignant, even angry. If you're lucky, they'll only just flip you off. If you're not, you might become a victim of road rage, of Terror on the American Road. The threat of road rage to you and me is so high nowadays that I think the Homeland Security Department should raise its Homeland Threat Level to orange. Raising it to red won't work - the 'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people will just ignore it.

'Rules Don't Apply To Me' people are more than just dangerous on the road, they're a rude presence just about everywhere we go. The rules clearly do not apply anywhere to these people, as they share every word of their private lives with us while talking on their cel phones during the movie and in the restaurant. Or, as they stall the express line at the grocery store with at least fifteen items more than the fifteen items or less clearly stated in big, easy-to-read letters on the sign above the fifteen year-old cashier too timid to enforce it. Or, as they struggle and fail to lift into the overhead bin their over-sized, over-stuffed carry-on bag while the rest of us claustrophobically wait in the aisle, hoping to take off before the end of our vacation. Or, worst of all, as they lead the country.

You know, I've had it with these people. I've decided that if the rules don't apply to them, then they don't apply to me. If the laws of the land are not meant for them, then they're not meant for me either. If these people don't have to care about the world around them, then why should I? Wait, that won't work.
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Todd Huffman is a pediatrician and writer living in Eugene, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to many newspapers and publications throughout the Pacific Northwest.
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