Maybe the Problem is All in Your Head, Officer

Joe Berkowitz would like to explain why he was speeding.

Illustration by Brad Jonas

What seems to be the problem, officer? You must think that I didn’t observe the speed limit. You’ll be surprised to learn, though, that I actually was observing the speed limit, even as I continued to exceed it further and further. You surprise far too easily. Yes, that whole time I was straight ripping it up back there? Let me assure you that the speed limit was foremost in my mind. It did not go unobserved, I should say. So that can’t be what’s troubling you. Let’s try to get at the heart of what really is the matter. Maybe the problem is all in your head, officer? Let’s explore that for a moment.

Now, we both know you’ve selected a dangerous line of work here. It must be positively nerve-racking sometimes, never knowing whether the next car you pull over is going to be your last. Maybe the driver is some kind of escapee from the lunatic asylum, or just a regular fellow with an ill-tempered Doberman Pinscher laying in wait to chomp off the very cheekbone that you are clenching so hard right now. That’s a lot of pressure for anyone to endure each day. Could it be, perhaps, that the heavy burdens of the crime-fighting lifestyle are wearing you down? I’m going to take that prodigious frown of yours as a “maybe.”

Is this a joke? It is quite the contrary, my good man. If this were a joke, wouldn’t I have used the word “donut” by now, or made some sort of pig reference? Perhaps I would’ve held my nose like this — as though the scent of bacon was too overpowering for any mere mortal to withstand. But this is no laughing matter. It is a time for neither fun nor games. As an amateur psychologist, I take my work seriously. Especially when my work takes me to a serious situation, such as this one. Yes, when it comes to matters like these, I would sooner drive at twice the advertised limit then risk joshing around inappropriately. Furthermore, I will stop holding my nose now, if that will make you more comfortable.

You see, that, right there, is exactly what I’m talking about. A happy, contented person would not use such foul language. I don’t even know what a “shitbird” is, and I certainly don’t appreciate the designation, but I’m willing to let it slide. Your vulgarity is simply another symptom of the problem we’re trying to uncover. After all, you didn’t pull me over because I’m a “world-class numbnuts,” in your unfortunate words. Incidentally, your failure to prove whether I am such a person, in the literal sense, doesn’t really do much to bolster your credibility. In any case, that’s still not why you pulled me over. Let’s delve into the real reason.

“Obsession” is more than a fine fragrance from Calvin Klein. It is my belief, sir, that you have a minor obsession either with speed itself, or with the concept of limitations. Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice: there are no limitations. You can accomplish anything you desire. Even though we’ve only known each other a short while, I believe in you. And in the same way that I didn’t let the suggested cruising speed interfere with what I felt this baby could do, you shouldn’t feel limited by any of your own physical shortcomings or personality defects, however copious they may be. Believe in yourself, officer. The world is yours for the taking! Never let the siren song of your own glaring self-hatred convince you otherwise.

Now if you’ll just put those handcuffs away, we can shake on it like adults.

Illustrations by Brad Jonas