Diaries Magazine

You're an Exception to the Rule

Posted on the 15 May 2013 by Cfburch4 @cfburch4


Between the Spring Break vacationers and the motorcyclists, Myrtle Beach folks could enjoy spring air and relative calm.

Beach weather still hasn't quite begun. The water is still way too cold. Only the most dedicated sunbathers will tan right now.

Still, the ocean and the sand are magnets for motorcycles.

On my street, in the Avenues North of Myrtle Beach, orange-and-white cones sit at both ends bearing signs that read "No Thru Traffic" as a polite way of asking bikers not to thunder by the local residences.

But daily, dozens of bikers thunder by anyway, and this rebellion is a uniquely American phenomenon.

In the land of the free and the home of the brave, everyone is an exception to the rule.

Maybe we have so many rules and regulations in hopes that someone will accidentally follow one.

Hey, you've just got to dash into that store for just a sec. Park in the fire lane.

You're exceptional.

Unfortunately, exceptionalism is not just a matter of driving and parking.

Consider our exceptional U.S. Justice Department, who just had to track down a government leak for a really, really, just, serious national security issue -- so its officers "secretly obtained two months worth of reporters' telephone records in an  'unprecedented' search for a confidential source," as the U.K. Daily Mail described it.

At a press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder wanted everyone to know how exceptional the situation was. "This was a very serious leak and a very, very  serious leak," he said.

Notice the formula for exceptionalism: "very serious," directly connected to "very, very serious."

Well, in that case, we ought to make an exception.

You might even find a public opinion poll with majority support for water-boarding the journalists who used those telephones. Hey -- Americans hate journalists, and the public is always willing to make an exception when they'll get what they want.

Meanwhile, the exceptional Justice Department has launched an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service, officials of which were exceptional enough to place their dislike for conservative political groups above IRS policies. 

The tarnished Justice Department investigating the IRS? I'm sure someone will tell us there's nothing exceptional about that.

I know, I know -- big organizations have bunches of employees, and to police them all at all times would require a rather exceptional bureaucracy.

So let me take this back to street level.

I was walking Lucy, my bitch, when I decided to stop and take a couple of snapshots of the orange cone and its "No Thru Traffic" sign.

As I was lining up my camera-phone shot in the bright sunlight, a middle-aged guy in a conservative, white, mid-sized car pulled onto my street, seemed to hesitate for a sec, and then did a U-turn back onto Ocean Boulevard.

Perhaps he didn't want his license plate to appear in my portrait of the "No Thru Traffic" sign.

With a dog on a leash, I looked like a local, and I was photographing a sign. Maybe the driver thought I was exceptionally pissed about violations of the sign's message.

If I'm right about that, the U-turn made for a peculiar social event. By photographing the sign, I somehow reinforced the sign.

Maybe that's all the biker rallies need: someone to pause and photograph the exceptional signs -- so everyone else will feel a little less exceptional.

-Colin Foote Burch

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