Strict rules create criminals

I am so sick of following the rules.  I pay my bills on time.  I tithe.  I go the speed limit.  I obey traffic laws.  I obey the rules at work.  I pay my taxes.  I do nothing intentionally wrong, and I still get in trouble.  Fear rules me.  I’m scared that someday, someone will find something that I did without permission or the proper government forms, and the Authorities will swoop down and take away everything that I’ve worked so hard for.

I hated rules in high school.  I was a good kid.  I was tied with about 6 or 7 other nerds for Valedictorian.  I never got in trouble.  I was never tardy.  I always had notes for any excused absences.  I always turned in my homework.  And when the pressure got to be too much, nobody was there with anything except a cold, formal rule book.  I guess that’s how you control 750 teenagers in a giant socialist jailhouse – by making rules.  I followed them, but when it got to be too much, instead of having someone who cared and took the time to talk to me, I was judged and forgotten.  That’s when I started smoking, taking drugs, failing my classes and basically giving a big Fuck You to The Establishment.

I’m about to have the same reaction again.  There are rules in my community, and they are strictly enforced.  I get notices in the mail every once in a while – as all the residents do – about fence slats that need to be replaced, trash cans that need to be moved out of public view, or bushes that need to be trimmed.  And never mind that my house looks better-kept than most of the other ones; it doesn’t matter, because there are rules, and the homeowners association has lawyers and can put a lien on your house if you don’t do what they say.  And they won’t come talk to you.  They’ll send you a nasty note in the mail, and file papers in court if you don’t comply.

So I’m at a point where I can either go on being the straight-A nerd, or I can join the freaks in the smoking area.  I am really, really tempted to do something illegal.  I really, really want to break every fucking law that I can get away with.  Or, hire the toughest, meanest lawyer I can find to bury the HOA with discovery requests, depositions, endless litigation, until I bankrupt those assholes.  Or, I’ll try to come up with the most annoying things I can possibly do to make life a living hell for everyone around me, until they beg me to stop or change their minds and treat people with respect, rather than quoting rules from afar like the little ninnies that they are…

There was one guy in the neighborhood that got complaints about his trash cans.  They were on the side of the house, where he had kept them for years, but they were in “public view” so he got nasty letters telling him to move them.  After two such letters, he relented and built a small fence to hide the trash cans.  Of course, he didn’t get a thank you note.  No; he got another nasty note saying he put up a fence without HOA approval.

Why is it that people have to apply the rules and laws blindly, without consideration or reasonableness?  I can’t put my finger on it; it’s impersonal, it’s picky, it’s petty.  Some people can sell drugs, prostitute, steal, and they get a slap on the wrist, while others who do something really minor get the book thrown at them.  It’s not fair.  It’s not friendly.  It’s not human.  It’s just a bunch of laws written by those in power to control the faceless masses.  And it’s wrong.

I guess I should say what’s worrying me.  I installed an air conditioner.  Not an ugly window unit, but a nice little mini-split system.  The only visible part is the condensing unit, which is sitting on a concrete pad right next to my big one.  This morning, I was washing my cars like I do every Sunday, and someone pulled up next to my driveway, stayed there for a little while, then drove off.  I know that was the HOA bitch out to make people miserable again.  I was right there.  She could have come out and said Hi.  She could have mentioned something six months ago when I emailed her about putting in a mini-split unit.  She could have said something several weeks ago before I finally got it all working.  But instead, she’s sending a formal complaint, quoting the rule I broke and demanding that I do something about it.  Mind you, I haven’t gotten any letter yet, but I know it’s coming.  Because someone found out that I did something on my own without getting permission first.  Oooh, I’m sooo bad.  I need to be thrown in jail.

If I am going to be treated like a criminal even though I do my best, then why not act like a criminal?  If they’re going to cite me for putting in an unauthorized air conditioner, why not cook meth in the garage?  Why not be the bad guy that they see me as?  It seems like so much more fun, and if I’m going to get in trouble anyway, who cares?

Strict rules make criminals.  I know.  I am one.

-Mark

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