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It’s not a mistake when no one is looking

Yesterday I was out to meet a friend and I was driving my way back home. The sun was slowly settled behind the endless layers of concrete. The asphalt gave out all the absorbed heat and the evening breeze was doing its fair share in bringing things back to normal.
I drove the bike over the Padi flyover and brought it to a halt near the Korattur signal where I have to take a right turn. The indicator was on, the gear was on neutral and I was struggling to breathe inside the helmet.

A car was there next to me, whirring and getting ready for the light to go green. I couldn’t see the driver, but I saw his right hand out of the driver’s window, with a cigarette hanging in between his fingers. The tobacco had completely burned. The time had come for the cigarette. I kept looking at what he was going do and he did the expected.


He dropped the cigarette on the road, without killing the flame. The cigarette was on the asphalt, giving out smoke that was getting carried away by the swift wind. But, the cigarette was still lit.

I moved my bike a little forward, and I looked at the driver. He looked at me. I looked down at the cigarette and I looked at him. It made him uncomfortable. He didn’t know what to do. After much thinking, he took a bottle of water from inside the car, and poured some water onto the burning cigarette.

He closed the water bottle and looked at me. He gave an doubtful smile looking for an acknowledgement of some sort. Probably he was expecting “The responsible citizen” award for putting out the cigarette. I smiled back. The signal turned green and I took the right turn.

The incident might look small. But, it has lot more to it. If I wasn’t there, the guy would’ve dropped the cigarette and would’ve drove off. Putting it out wasn’t his first option. Only after I looked at him, he poured water.

So, we have the mentality that a mistake is not really one when nobody sees it. We’ve been brought up that way, so we take things for granted. Sometimes, a bigger crowd with a similar idea forces a straightforward person to do the same.

Several times I had seen bikers who used to halt at red signal even when there is no traffic police on the watch. During those times, the people behind them use to repeatedly honk, signalling them to jump the signal. In this case, a whole lot of people think that it is okay to jump the signal when the traffic police is not around.

You can say installing traffic cameras will help. According to me, making strict laws won’t solve the problem. Evolving into better people is the only way to build a better world.

Karthik Pasupathy
Karthik Pasupathy

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