CAPs

In the ideal world, children can be children. They can run around with swords and make pirate noise. They can get away with some ding-dong ditch. They are allowed to learn from their mistakes.

In the ideal world, teenagers can be teenagers. They can hang and sit around, doing absolutely nothing. They can make hideous dress choices while figuring out their identity. And they too, are allowed to learn from their mistakes.

In an ideal world, adults can be adults. They would actually talk to each other when a nice view is blocked or music is too loud . They can tolerate different preferences. And maybe even they are allowed to learn from their mistakes.

In an ideal world, people would easily get bored. That’s why we have GAS fines in Belgium. It stands for Gemeentelijke Administratieve Sanctie, translated to Communal Administrative Penalty. Let’s call them CAPs.

Every municipality can choose its own CAP rules, including the age threshold. Food for arbitrariness, it is called. I’m sure CAP cops will be very popular.

I suppose society needs some rules to deal with public nuisance, untidiness and danger. Municipalities need ways to quickly fill their public treasuries. And creating paranoia among your citizens is probably a very efficient way to sustain order.

Nuisance

You don’t need a CAP to know it is wrong to throw stones towards vehicles. But I’m grateful there is a CAP rule now to tell me there are cities where it is not allowed to pick up confetti from the ground and throw it up in the air again. Of course, the said confetti can’t exceed the maximum diameter of one centimeter. We don’t want people throwing 11 millimeter confetti, do we?

In the town where I grew up,  my children will not be allowed to visit my father’s grave without a guardian. Grief is an adult thing and shouldn’t be private anyway, right? And if they want to gift him with flowers, of course they’ll have to make sure they pick them in the correct city. In some, the daisies will cost you tens of euros. A uniform row of purple hyacinths looks better on a graveyard anyway.

I will have to show them there are numerous ways to misuse public trash cans, as you are only allowed to use them for waste that is produced on the spot. Picking up someone else’s litter and dropping it in the bin, why on earth would you want to do that?

I’m also relieved to read that 16 year olds sitting decently on a bench in a playground got a CAP because the entire place was reserved for children under 12. No need for me pushing swings anymore. I have a CAP cop to back me up. I’m way older than 12.

Untidiness

As I can appreciate cleanliness, I think it’s a good thing there are places where people are no longer allowed to vomit in public. Too bad there’s an exception to the rule. Not stomic flu. You should stay inside while you’re still contagious I guess. No, only pregnancy gives you a vomiting green card.

It was about time too a CAP was created against pigeons dirtying drying sheets. Whoever hangs his sheets, or any kind of flag, outside on the holy days the pigeons fly, will get a CAP now in some towns. Make sure you get informed by your local pigeon fancier about the correct days, in order to plan your laundry. Since your kids aren’t allowed to play soccer these days either, you’d better just stay inside anyway.

Now, if you’ve always wanted to get arrested by four cops in bullet free garments, be sure to spill a cherry stone in Brussels. It will only cost you 50 euros, and you will have quite the CAP story to tell your grandchildren one day.

Danger

With our vulnerable youngsters being recruited for battle in countries like Syria, we need all the possible agents to stop them. Education, social workers and infiltration might be doing a modest job, but I’m sure a decent CAP will teach them big time, those extremists.

Hidden danger is well being taken care of as well. At last, it is official: it is forbidden to stop sliding in the middle of a slide. Only water slides are included in this CAP rule so far, but I’m confident other slides will follow soon.

For everyone’s safety, you can’t mask your face in public anymore either. You have to be  recognizable at all times. Santa Claus, Sinterklaas and the Easter Bunny are immune to this CAP. This confuses me. As for Sinterklaas, I understand his wish for disguise, with the yearly racism allegations.

But I sure hope Santa won’t come badgering into houses with a mask on. I’m sure there’s a CAP against scaring innocent children.

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