Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hodgepodge 206/365 - Tickets

As in, traffic tickets.

I have gotten four in my long driving career: two were fix-it tickets; one I went to traffic school for. I think it was comedy traffic school, though I don't remember it being very funny. Or learning very much. Except that motorcycle riders, if they get pulled over for speeding at all, tend to get pulled over way over the speed limit, and the speed gets minimized. There's some sort of secret fraternity of cops and motorcyclists, it seems. The last ticket—well, that one I may still be wanted in the state of Illinois for.

The two fix-it tickets: First one, I was coming back from Oregon, on I-5, in my brand-new (to me) 4Runner, first long trip with it. My habit on multi-lane highways is to stay to the right unless I'm passing (and unless there's dense traffic and everyone is jockeying around the lanes). Apparently some concerned motorist called me in as "swerving" because I didn't stay in the fast lane. The CHP officer had followed me a ways and he could see I was fine. Okay, going a tad fast, but he was clearly peeved about being called on a bogus offense. We chatted: where had I been, where was I headed? He expressed sympathy over my still being a long way from home. He looked at the car, noticed that the tires might be a little larger than spec—which might mean my speedometer was off (hence, no speeding ticket)—and that I was missing the front plate (it's how the car was sold to me), so he ended up giving me a fix-it ticket, meaning I had to get new plates when I got home. Much better than a speeding ticket. No complaints there. The officer was very nice, and I felt well taken care of.

Second one, I rushed a left-turn arrow in Pacific Grove. The PG police are notoriously tough. There just happened to be one lurking nearby. She gave me a little lecture and cited me for the crack in my windshield, which had been growing for a couple of years, starting with a simple chip from some flying gravel no doubt. It really began to make strides after the car had sat a few days under a foot of snow, and then I fired up the defroster. The final straw was taking it to the car wash. Yeah: don't go to the car wash if you have a crack in your windshield.

Although both those tickets cost me money, it was surely less money than a moving violation would have cost—and I improved the safety, or at least legal compliance, of my automobile. So good came of them.

The third ticket I earned in the Sierra Nevada, driving over Sonora Pass from east to west in late spring. There were still walls of snow coming up the east side, and progress was very slow and claustrophobic on the twisty-turny narrow road. Eventually, well past Lake Donnell, the road straightened out, and oh look! four lanes! downhill! I didn't exactly floor it, but I did help gravity along by giving it a little gas—and yeah: a cop was up ahead in a pullout, just waiting for the likes of me. I was properly contrite, and he lessened the speed (just a tad: I wasn't going ridiculously fast) so my insurance wouldn't be affected and I could take care of it via traffic school. Which I appreciated.

The last ticket is actually from 1989. I was leaving Chicago—for good: heading to our new home in Monterey—at 6 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday: the highway was empty. I was going 60 in a 55 zone. The cop was going the other direction. And yet, he swung around and ticketed me. I have a recollection—which it strikes me must be faulty, because it sounds illegal—that he told me I could either pay the fine there and then or he could take my (Illinois) driver's license, give me a receipt to prove I had a license, and I could settle it when I got home. I gladly surrendered my license, only a little worried that the ticket would catch up with me when I got back to California and applied for a new driver's license. But there, my old license was still on file (I'd only been gone two years), and I simply renewed it. My criminal past did not catch up with me. And I never did pay that ticket.

Considering I do have a tendency to push the speed limit, I think it's remarkable that that's the extent of my traffic infractions. I guess I have good karma. Knock wood.

1 comment:

  1. After reading this, I'm glad to report you didn't get pulled over en route to and from Tomales Bay that time. That time you had me in the car!