Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dummy in the HOV Lane

So, I just got back from a drive in an HOV lane, and was laughing because of a story I saw a few months ago, about a guy on Long Island, NY who was arrested for driving with a dummy in the HOV lane...

Is there anyone who's driven in or near an HOV lane who hasn't thought of that? Our daughter used to have an oversized penguin. Many's the time we put a straw hat on its head, and left it to guard the car, in the driver's seat, in a mall parking lot.

The guy on Long Island had a more lifelike figure - a CPR practice-mannequin with a moustache and hair and everything. And this got me wondering - what exactly is the difference for HOV purposes between a life-like dummy or a very quiet person sitting next to you? Or maybe a sleeping person, or a not very bright person you might call a dummy. Come on - we've all driven with such dummies, from time to time.

I guess a quiet person could start talking, a sleeper could awaken, and a dullard could say something intelligent every now and then - even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while, as they say in the South (at least, that’s what someone who isn’t a dummy once told me) - and this sets the tongued-tied and the shy, the sleeper and the dullard, apart from dummies, and makes them lawfully countable as a passenger for HOV (high occupancy vehicle) purposes.

Ok, so how about a dead person? I know, a cop would likely pull you over if you had someone dead sitting next to you, anyway. But if it wasn't your fault, could you still be cited for an HOV violation?

I'm not sure, but I have a feeling you would not.

So what's wrong with a dummy?

The alert cop who nabbed the daring Long Island driver said the passenger's head was tilted in a strange way ... hmmm ... stranger than a drunk's? Maybe the driver has a case against the company that made the mannequin - "I thought it was supposed to be lifelike, your Honor! They never tested the neck!"

But, getting back to drunks, sleepers, idiots, and quiet people - I think maybe the key is that the passenger has to be alive. But is the key, then, humanly alive? How about a dog, an ape ... a big snake plant? (I also read recently that someone discovered a band of chimps making spears - seriously. Ok, for me this means they are definitely human enough to count as passengers in HOV lanes. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that chimps are subject to road rage, too.)

On other hand, chimps can't really talk, and some dummies can – no, I don't mean people who are dummies, I mean ventriloquist's dummies...

Ah! Long Island man, here's your defense, if it’s not too late: bring your dummy to court with you. When it comes time to plead your guilt or innocence, have the dummy make the plea.

If the judge can't see your mouth move, you should be found not guilty - assuming the judge is not a dummy.
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