The Land of the Broken Headlights
San Juan, Puerto Rico - We have all seen the advertisements for the Isle of Enchantment, presenting the gorgeous island that Puerto Rico is and can be. It truly is a marvelous place full of beauty and ecological diversity, defying the normal concepts of what a tropical island should have. This is the main reason the highly controversial campaign slogan, "The Continent of Puerto Rico" was used a number of years ago, to describe the Island. But as in many countries and cities throughout the world, it is not without its little quirks and issues.
I will not go into the intricacies of Puerto Rico's values, problems, beauty, or anything of the sort. I'm going to talk about the fact that surprisingly, a manufacturing powerhouse like Puerto Rico (i.e. 16 of the top 20 pharmaceutical products and 50% of all pacemakers are made in Puerto Rico) can't seem to maintain vehicle headlights and could be awarded a new title and advertising slogan, "The land of the broken headlights." I'll explain what I mean.
I took to the road at about 10 pm on a Saturday night. The traffic was light, as it often is on a Saturday as long as you remain away from the heavily frequented night spots in Old San Juan, Condado, and Isla Verde. I hadn't reached the first stoplight and I had already counted 3 vehicles with broken headlamps. Having noticed this little detail that has so plagued the roads of San Juan as of late, I decided to count all the broken, damaged, or otherwise disengaged headlamps I could see throughout the entire distance to the aforementioned Condado area. From the township of Guaynabo to the tourist laden, oceanfront area of Condado in San Juan, the distance is approximately 6 to 7 miles (10 to 11 kilometers) depending on which road you've selected to travel on.
I counted without being too attentive (I was driving after all), and yet, I'm not even remotely exaggerating when I say that I saw at least 23 vehicles suffering from what I like to call, "abnormal headlamp syndrome". This medical condition that seems to afflict vehicles in the San Juan metro area is a disease that must and should be controlled for a number of reasons that include safety of the affected vehicle, the annoyance of oncoming traffic, and the possibility of infection of other vehicles from the unavoidably predictable accident that is likely to occur from the mislabeling of the oncoming vehicle as a motorcycle or cloaked Klingon vessel, instead of say a Mercedes M series wagon.
I wondered what the law had to say or do about all this, and even considered the idea of contacting law enforcement to find out. Then, I remembered that the police don't really do or care much about it, considering the amount of vehicles on the road that have already been infected, so that idea was worthless. Also, if a traffic infraction notice could theoretically be injected into the organic life form that acts as the brains of the vehicle, the dosage is too low to actually have an effect upon said vehicle.
So what do I think should be done about this baffling and particularly dark situation? Well, useless as the thought may be, the time for light medicines is over considering the disease has reached plague status, so, here goes. I propose a notice of infraction be provided at a dosage of 500 USD at the moment of diagnosis by an officer. This would quickly eradicate the problem by providing a heavy incentive for the organic form to act quickly on replacing the affected area with a brand new or repaired headlamp and therefore eradicating the blinding condition of abnormal headlamp syndrome. If within 15 days, the lamp has been reconditioned (verified by an officer), then, the dosage would be removed, otherwise the full dosage would be required within yet another 15 days.
Of course, considering that cops won't stop you even if you run a red light in front of them, that probably won't do much either, but may act as a deterrant to those fearing the miraculous event of a police officer actually doing their job. I'm not one to complain much on the freedom and flexibility of the local arrangements, but I can't help but wonder what kind of place it could be if it continues it's present course towards anarchy. It's time for a beer.