Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Al qaeda bicycle attack!

Good morning economists. The following is a true story which took place in 2002. Just about that time, I was starting my postgraduate degree and the ten students that started the program with me were pretty excited! Of course we were a rather diverse group, with students from the US, India, Iran, Holland and Cyprus. One of the first things that we did once we settled in our apartments was to purchase vehicles in order to move around. A couple of students from India, I remember, bought bicycles.

As soon as they bought them, they took them for an all important test drive. While they were riding their bikes, on the designated bicycle strip, they noticed that a big truck was approaching. In order to be safe, they climbed onto the pavement. Major mistake! A police officer on a bike was waiting for them and awarded them with a ticket as no riding on pavements was allowed. My two classmates pleaded ignorance and that there was no sign prohibiting this action. The police officer pointed to a sign that was HIDDEN behind a tree. There is no doubt that at one point the sign was visible, but that was not the case anymore as the tree grew in size.

My two friends decided to photograph the sign and argue their case in court. Their original fine was for $25 each and they felt that they did not have to pay. When they presented their case in front of the judge, they showed the photographic evidence and instead of acquitting them the judge ordered 48 hours community service and $125 each in fines! Kind of an excessive punishment if you are asking me.

See my two friends did not take into account the fact that the judge might have been biased by anything foreign due to the 9/11 attacks. The matter became even worse as they were forced to clean highways for their community service and they became the mockery of the drivers. Hardly the behavior that a postgraduate student deserves.

Here we have an example of how two unrelated events, the 9/11 attack and the bicycle ride were wrongly connected in the mind of the judge. Sometimes, we take wrong decisions based on unrelated events. 

Have a nice day!


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