As a matter of background, for the benefit of the One TV ‘journalists’ who follow this blog, Sammi Davis is a woman. The rest of her great qualities can be gleaned from her writing.
Mario used to live on my street a few doors down. He had two cars; a brand new, enormous black SUV and a Smart car the size of a roller skate. Before leaving for work of a morning, he would park his Smart in the space that had accommodated his SUV overnight. On his return, he would make a nifty switch, stowing his Smart car in the motorcycle bay at the top of our road (much to the irritation of my next door neighbour who would have liked to park his motorcycle in it). And thus, Mario ensured that he always had his preferred parking space right outside his front door. Now, parking spaces on my road are few and the daily battle for them is fierce. Mario had clearly done his sums and calculated that a Smart car was cheaper than a garage round our way and felt quite pleased with himself about it.
This system-cheating did not go unnoticed and griping about his lack of fair play was a favourite topic of conversation. “It’s not illegal” he would say whenever challenged by a disgruntled neighbour and we would grumble all the way to our front doors.
Mario’s immediate neighbour was an elderly gent with a ready smile and jam jar glasses; let’s call him Gianni. I had never really spoken to him although we always exchanged a nod and a ‘bonġu’ whenever we passed on the street.
One August evening, I was attempting to park in a rare free space in front of Mario’s pride and joy. My spatial awareness is not the best but my task was made considerably harder by the fact that he had parked his SUV badly and the front of this beached whale had crossed the line that separated his space and mine by some margin. I’d been trying, failing, swearing and sweating for some time (my ancient jalopy lacked the luxuries of power steering and a.c.) when Gianni appeared magically by my window and signalled to me that he would ‘see me in’. Grateful for the assistance, I nodded my assent.
Back, back, back he signalled and just as I thought there couldn’t possibly be that much room, there came the unmistakable crunch of splintering fibreglass as my tow bar found the SUV. As I stared at Gianni aghast, he smiled broadly and gave me a double ‘thumbs up’.
Once the initial shock had passed, I’m afraid to say, Gianni and I had a bloody good laugh about it; I believe I even shook his hand. Now obviously I did the dutiful thing and left my little note of apologetic confession under Mario’s wiper (and later footed an eye-watering bill) but in truth, I wasn’t sorry at all, in fact I felt whatever the opposite of guilt is.
Mario’s daily car juggle may not have been illegal but his behaviour felt inherently wrong in ways that written law can never accommodate. We all have an inbuilt sense of ‘right’, an unspoken code of behaviour that guides us in our actions; or at least it should. If asked to define the code and name all the clauses in it, we’d struggle but we sure as hell know when someone breaks it.
Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri, Peter Grech, Lawrence Cutajar and all the other lesser mortals who protect you with their collusion, support, silence, cowardice and complicity; you can use the letter of the law to break its spirit; you can use the law designed to protect us from people like you to punish us instead; you can apply the law so slowly and selectively that the wheels of justice never turn and you can use the law to cover the crimes you are committing but we can all see what you are doing and it is wrong, wrong, wrong.
PS. Mario is his real name (sorry mate).