Late last year I had two unusual experiences — at least unusual for me — that I would like to share.
I try to be a cautious driver who avoids doing things that would earn a traffic citation. Any trip to Montgomery County or the District of Columbia, with their numerous traffic enforcement cameras, is very tension-provoking for me. Recently I was returning home from an event held in Montgomery County on a rainy Saturday evening. At a particularly complicated intersection I wanted to turn right and observed a “no right turn on red” sign. I waited through a full light cycle without getting a green light. I waited through the better part of another cycle before concluding the signal light was malfunctioning and decided to proceed with the turn on red. However, after doing so, it struck me that I was in the “land of many traffic enforcement cameras.”
Being compulsive, and worried about the prospect of receiving a violation citation in the mail, upon returning home I checked the Montgomery County website that lists enforcement camera locations. The intersection at which I had turned was listed as having one or more cameras, but the website wasn’t functioning fully and I couldn’t determine what functions were being monitored.
On Monday, I called the Montgomery County police and the traffic camera enforcement office. Neither could tell me what the camera(s) at the particular intersection were monitoring. This surprised me, and left me wondering whether there was some kind of “Great Spirit” that mysteriously controls their camera system. Another call was to the town manager of the community in which the intersection is located. Relieving my concerns, he assured me that, “unless you had been stopped by a man in blue driving a car with flashing lights” I need not worry about receiving a violation letter. Right turns at the intersection were not monitored by camera. He also suggested an alternative routing to avoid the turn in the future.
The second experience occurred in the Villages of Urbana. Hopefully my understanding of the facts of the situation is accurate.
The Villages operates a message board permitting residents to post subjects or questions of their choice. Early on a December weekend, a new post reported that a jogger had been bitten by a large dog on one of the community trails. The post, seeking help, was from the wife of the jogger.
The lady accompanying the dog did not have it leashed. While the jogger exchanged words with the lady about the unleashed dog after the incident, he did not raise the leg of his trousers to check if the bite had drawn blood. When he got home, he did check and observed blood. Unfortunately, he hadn’t acquired the lady’s name. The jogger checked with a doctor and was advised that unless he could confirm that the dog had rabies shots he would have to start the painful anti- rabies injection series. This prospect was very troubling to me.
I contacted the Villages Community Manager and asked that she issue an email bulletin seeking information on the identity and ownership of the dog. It hadn’t dawned on me that the dog companion might not live in the Villages and would not see the bulletin.
The message board post as well the email bulletin prompted action by numerous people, and before the weekend ended, the identity of the biting dog and owner were discovered. The dog had the needed shots and the jogger was saved from starting the anti-rabies shots.
I did not know the jogger. My participation in the situation was my concern for him as well as other people (of varying ages) who use the community trails. The two experiences I’ve described were not of earth-shaking consequence. My compulsiveness prompted the first. My concern for a fellow human being prompted my involvement in the second — and, I believe, was well worth the effort invested.
I’ll end with a message for dog walkers. Please keep your animal companions under full control when out walking, and should an incident occur such as I described, proactively provide your contact information.