No, But I Know Where I Am

There is an MIT joke about how Werner Heisenberg, the physicist, gets pulled over for speeding through Cambridge and the officer says “Do you know how fast you were going?” Heisenberg answers, “No, but I know where I am.” This is a riff on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: “In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, such as position and momentum, can be simultaneously known.” [Wikipedia]

Don’t ask me about the behavior of quanta. My vision is crappy on a good day and they are dinky little buggers. Still, I can see a lot better than the two legally-blind friends I was ferrying back to their digs in a nearby “senior village” after a pleasant Thai lunch, and I knew where I was, so I should have been a little more on top of things. A man in a uniform, aiming what I at first thought might be a bar-code reader, leapt in front of me as I coasted up to a stop sign with my foot floating above the accelerator pedal, and began saying something made unintelligible by his island accent but out of which I gradually sieved the information that he had clocked me at twenty-seven miles an hour and I needed to pull over, please.

His partner, a good-natured woman with a radio at her hip and a Security patch on her jacket, wrote my name and license plate number up on a citation informing me that the incident had been recorded and habitual violation would result in my being banned from driving on the campus, where the posted limit is twenty.

I guess I was just unlucky enough to hit speed-trap day but I felt quite the desperado;  normally I am the person stubbornly driving the speed limit, whipped around and honked at by drivers in a rush to get to the next stop light. My friends are probably still laughing. I just hope they got the son of a bitch in the Lexus that tailgated me into the place two hours earlier when I arrived to pick them up, hugging my bumper at 45 for the last quarter mile I spent on the Fairfax County Parkway. And I’m glad they didn’t check my breath for strong green tea.

2 thoughts on “No, But I Know Where I Am

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