June 15, 2016
It was probably the hottest day of the year. I was stuck in the middle of an insane traffic jam that seemed like I would be stuck there for several days. A lot of buses were emitting black smoke, and as if that was not enough to pollute the air we were forced to breathe, dust that generated from the road construction going on nearby freely mixed with the air. I had left home with a positive feeling that morning and I was supposed to have a good day. However, a few minutes of being stuck in the jam completely changed my outlook toward the rest of the dayâ€”my face was covered in a layer of dust particles, every pore in my body was oozing sweat, and I was very frustrated.
As I was looking around helplessly, I saw something that made me forget everything. There was this person in a blue uniform, a crisp cap, holding a straight, bold posture. Yes, a traffic police. He had put on a mask, but I doubt if it protected him from inhaling the polluted air; plus, he had to blow a whistle every now and then anyway, so the mask wasnâ€™t helping him much. I could also see that the layer of dust on his face was much thicker than that in mine.
The traffic police had obviously been in the jam for much longer than I was, braving the dust, smoke, frequent honking, and irritable drivers who often pointed at his â€˜incompetencyâ€™ in managing the traffic. I could see that he was tired, too, but he didnâ€™t let his exhaustion affect his duty. While we were waiting for the jam to clear, he was the only one actually doing something to make that happen. Seeing that man carry out his duty amidst so much chaos made me forget my frustration. I donâ€™t remember when the vehicles finally moved ahead, but I do remember feeling sorry for and proud of that man at the same timeâ€”sorry because no one appreciated his efforts, and proud because he didnâ€™t seem to care what people thought about him. He just relentlessly did his duty.
That particular traffic policeman represents thousands of professionals who brave pollution and all sorts of weather day and night to ensure road safety for drivers and pedestrians alike. Things donâ€™t end here. The much talked about â€˜ma.pa.seâ€™ checking is yet another highly appreciable duty that the men and women in blue uniform have been conducting with utmost accountability. Since not all officers are equipped with breathalyzers, imagine having to actually â€˜smellâ€™ peopleâ€™s breaths to determine whether they are driving under influence or not. And we all know not all people smell â€˜good.â€™
Despite all these â€˜oddâ€™ tasks that they are required to do on a daily basis, I have only heard negative comments about them from people. Like every other profession, there are good and bad officers in the traffic police, too. Developing a negative mindset about the entire profession on the basis of misconducts by couple of officers isnâ€™t just, is it?
I personally have immense respect and gratitude for all traffic police officers, because believe it or not, they are ensuring our safety every day without even letting us realize a bit. I salute these change makers, who do so much and donâ€™t even get the appreciation that they truly deserve.
ByÂ Shraddha Shrestha
The writerÂ is an undergraduate student of Business Administration at Prime College in Khusibun, Kathmandu.