Dec 20, 2015

It is 11pm in downtown Toronto and I am sitting at the Comedy Corner Club with two of my friends. Stand-up comedians have come and gone, some produced great bouts of laughter whilst others left much to be desired. The one currently speaking, who also happens to be the uncle of one of my friends, is just about to wrap up his bit, “Has anyone seen the police brutality video?” he asks. An awkward silence ensues. He was doing so well! Is this the part where he bombs? I think aloud. “Anyone see the police brutality video?” He asks again. Two people in the back pipe up, “which one?” The response was almost immediate, “exactly!” he says.
In a day and age where the general public pine and rail against police brutality, the militarization of the police force and the misuse of their power, it is easy for many (including myself especially) to forget about the good apples of the bunch. It is important to remind myself and others that there are indeed real people out there who work, and perform duties not merely for a monetary compensation. But I digress, that is a topic for another time.
As the show wraps up, I can’t but help think how hungry I am. Seeing as it is 2am, what better place to go to than good ol’ Johnny’s Burgers. I promptly pull up and make my order of double cheese with fries and a strawberry milkshake. The heavenly odour is permeating out of the brown paper bag and into the atmosphere that is my car as I try and make my way home as quickly and safely as possible. And so it happens that just about 7 minutes away from my house, yours truly gets pulled over by a York Region police officer. Now seeing as this is not my first tango with the police (previous traffic violation of ‘disobey stop sign’ but I personally find it much less severe if it were to be renamed a ‘Rolling stop’… which is what I did) I think to myself Oh no, not this again. A white, male police officer (*insert eye roll) around early to mid-30’s taps on my windshield and informs me that I was going approximately 30km/hr over the speed limit. I apologize sincerely and he asks me if I have been drinking as I try to produce for him my ID and registration. I answer honestly that I have not at which point he takes his flashlight and shines it into my vehicle. I show him my bag of food and explain to him that I am simply in a rush to get home to eat my food. He asks me one more time if I have been drinking and I respond honestly, “not at all sir.” He seems to believe me and takes a look at my license and registration. I beg him not to give me a speeding ticket in hopes that he would cut me some slack but he tells me there is little he can do at 30km over the limit.
At this point, I am thinking there is no way this white cop is going to help me out. I am going to be slapped with a speeding ticket and a hefty fine and unfortunately going to have to deal with an insurance hike along with the full wrath of two Chinese parents. In fact, not only does he come back promptly but he also tells me that since I had no other previous speeding tickets he was going to let me off with a warning. I had never felt such relief and surprise simultaneously and in such equal doses. He gives me my license and registration back and informs me “Going so fast even for food is stupid. We’re always here [on Highway 7]”
At that moment, words cannot describe my love and admiration for that police officer. I don’t know if it is due to him letting me go, or the sheer shock of a police officer actually doing his job. I tell him thank you emphatically and he drives off. Although this encounter helped solidify a worldview of mine (once again, for another time) it also turned my beliefs on its head.
All my teenage life I thought that these power-hungry police officers didn’t care naught for the people they claimed to serve and certainly not in a day and age where a simple video search can reveal hundreds if not thousands of police brutality videos. So why was this any different? And why did I feel such admiration for someone that I told myself I never wanted to be?
It is because he is what is real in a world where everything is fake. In a world where politicians don’t work for the people, and doctors don’t cure for the love of saving, he showed me what a real police officer should do.
A police officer should be dedicated to the population, to keep the community safe and to ensure that rules are being followed. Now I certainly didn’t follow the rule that was placed on a sign saying limit 50km/hr, so why does that make him a REAL officer? Because he approached me in a way where I learned and would follow the rules in the future. He acted for my sake and not his wallet’s. He is a real officer not because he didn’t print me a ticket and let me go, but because the warning he gave me will last with me for much longer than any speeding ticket could have done. Maybe I am simply giving him too much of a benefit but it sure seemed to me that he pulled me over and talked to me in order to right my wrongs and not to hand out tickets to meet his quota. It was as if he performed a duty not merely for money or a salary but because he was looking out for me. He wanted to make sure I didn’t commit the same crime again so he warned me ‘We’re always here. Don’t speed.” He wanted to ensure that I was safe, and the road was safe, so he asked if I was drinking…twice. And lastly, but most importantly, he wanted me to improve and get better, so he gave me a warning and talked to me, as opposed to doling out tickets like the rest of them.

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Is this the meaning of life?

In recent memory, I have been contemplating whether or not one can live a successful, thriving life without having a passion. A passion, dedication, longing and willingness to perfect and hone an art form. I say this because I truly believe that who we are as human beings are defined by our passions in life.
Taking a craft and learning about its intricacies, tendencies and little nuances and then adding one’s own spin or signature to it is having a passion. It is something that takes years of toil and labour, over hurdles and valleys, to be knocked down time and time again but to know that this is something that must be done. To acknowledge that giving up is not an option, and that failure is merely a learning experience. To know that this burning desire, this longing for greatness, this passion, which comes to life in the form of your art, is something that will engulf you and then slowly become you. This is a passion that burns so deeply that it engrains itself within you and becomes your life.
For instance, I consider Kobe Bryant a successful human being not only because he is wealthy and doing something he loves but because he has a degree of passion that is far superior to other athletes. Kobe’s art of slicing defenses on a basketball court has made his name as well as himself synonymous with basketball. His passion for the game is evident in his years of practice and his many All-Star and All-NBA accolades. It is safe to say that all professional athletes have a passion for the game but not all athletes are synonymous with their sport. The mention of Kobe comes in tandem with basketball; it is something that can’t be separated. His art of playing basketball has defined him as well as his life. That is who he is, and that is what he is known for; playing basketball. His passion and love for the game helped him excel and gain recognition as one of the greatest to ever plat but his passion for the game is superior to others because everyone knows Kobe Bryant as a phenomenal basketball player, even those who don’t watch basketball recognize that. Even after his retirement, Kobe Bryant will still go hand in hand with basketball either as a broadcaster, a team owner, or merely as a knowledgeable fan. Sports fans and the general public will still place Kobe Bryant in unison with basketball.
What I am trying to say is that I have many passions; reading, writing, fitness, and learning (getting smarter), that do define me, and make up who I am right now. But I do not yet know who I truly am or what avenue I choose to pursue. All I can confirm is that I am still a work in progress and I can only hope that with dedication and hard work I can finally figure out who I want to be.