September 22, 2010

Curmudgeon Slightly Sub-dued by Speeding Ticket

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I was on my way to Traffic Court this morning when I thought, “I feel a blog coming on.”  When I got the speeding ticket, I didn’t get to talk enough about it because everyone had a story about their own ticket.  My friend Joan, the one with the theological chops, was 8 months pregnant; she asked the officer if he would time her contraction when he finished writing the ticket.  He tore it up.  Joan’s sister, Terry, had a hilarious ticket story involving an upset beet truck.  Other people’s stories were so much more interesting than mine.  But I have a blog, they don’t.

The first thing I have to say is that I got the ticket on my birthday, and two days after I had switched insurance companies. So that was awful.  The ticket was for $154.  That was a shock.  I was busted while zipping along Aurora on the east side of Queen Anne Hill.  That was just plain stupid since I see the speed traps every time I drive that road.  I was going 14 mph over the limit.  That’s full disclosure.  Never mind that a quarter of a mile later, I would have been only 4 mph over the speed limit.  That’s dissembling.

I pulled up the hill on Ward Street.  The policeman threw the ticket at me.  I was in enough shock to feel a little sorry for him.  What a job.  Everyone hates him.  “When constabulary duty’s to be done (to be done), a police man’s lot is not an happy one (nappy one).”

By the time I was back on the road, driving down the viaduct, I was sobbing.  I have been self-employed for 28 years.  I like to forget there is such a thing as Authority or that I would ever be subject to it.  I can’t remember what it feels like to have a supervisor.

I have gotten 4 tickets in my life.  Except for the time I was caught speeding through the Hanford nuclear site on my way to Walla Walla, I have gone to court.  My court date was this morning, three months after the incident.  I was coached by someone whose visits to Traffic Court are as routine as visits to the dry cleaners but who has never seen his insurance go up: dress well, don’t wear pity clothes; don’t make excuses, they have heard them all and they don’t care; be contrite, they never see contrition.

I said I didn’t think I could pull off contrition.  I could say I was ashamed with verisimilitude, not because I was, particularly, but because I am so familiar with that state that I can reproduce it easily.  I flush Shame Red when I get a notice for an overdue library book.  He suggested I apologize for wasting the court’s time.  That struck me as fatuous.  If  I felt apologetic for wasting the court’s time, I wouldn’t be there at all.

In the end, I dressed well.   Since I tend to blather away and make inappropriate jokes when I am nervous, I wrote the following on a piece of paper and practiced saying it: “I was going too fast.  I was not paying attention.  I have been driving carefully since the ticket and will continue to do so.”  I was going to write it on my hand but I thought that might look teenagery and we all know what kind of drivers they are.  When my name was called, I read it one last time and crammed it in my purse.

The Authority Figure was polite and easy-going.  I got a “deferred finding for infraction,” which means I did not have to pay the $154 for the ticket and my insurance company does not need to hear about it unless I get another ticket in the next year.  Then there will be hell to pay.  I did have to pay the “court fee” which he upped to $122.  The Court colludes with citizens to get insurance companies to pay city expenses.  That works for me.

I love getting comments on this web site but please don’t tell me your ticket stories.  This is my blog.

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