Russian use of CDs

When I was growing up in Italy, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many people started believing in an urban legend that, as it is most often the case, proved to be completely phony.

The legend said that if you were to hang a CD on a piece of string from your inside rearview mirror, it would reflect the flash of a speed camera, therefore blinding it and saving you from a fine. Those who believed in this story came up with ll sorts of complex theories regarding the use of infrared light in the speed camera flashes and other bonkers explanations of the phenomenon. There is no recorded instance in history that this system ever worked, not even once.

But I imagine an Italian in Moscow trying to explain this technique to a local resident who, partially because of a language barrier and partially thanks to the typical Russian pragmatism, ends up thinking (read with Russian accent): «Use CD to blind camera? Of course it works!»

Truth be told, there is no doubt that the Russian interpretation and application of the technique actually works. It is not subtle, but it is effective.

In the larger Russian cities, especially Moscow and Saint Petersburg, it is becoming more and more common to see cars driving around and taking pictures of the license plates of vehicles illegally parked, without even stopping. The owners have no clue this happened, until they receive a fine with the picture attached in the mail.

Finding a (legal) parking spot in Moscow can be a lengthy process and even when you find one it is an expensive stop as all parking is paid parking. So I don’t agree with them, but I can understand people who are all day on the road in the city and find a way to escape a fine when they just stop for a few minutes, most often staying in the car and, thus, ready to move it in an instant if it impedes the passage of people or other vehicles.

That said, what really grinds my gears is seeing the number of super-expensive cars that use this cheap trick. Granted, many of them are not privately owned and so the “poor” driver is trying to find a balance between picking up a client when and where he is supposed to, while avoiding a fine that would cut into his salary or fare. But some of these care are privately owned.

I discussed in a previous post as in Russia, more often than in most countries, owning an expensive car does not equate to being rich, but, still, if you have the money to buy an S-Class, well, you have that kind of money and you should pay a fine that is less than one thousandth the price of your wheels!


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