Becoming a Vigilante

posted in Work on Apr 20, 2010

Something happened today that has never happened to me before. From what I understand, according to various sources trusted and otherwise, this thing happens “to everyone.” What could this most heinous act be? This atrocious and unspeakable thing? I got pulled over for the first time today. And not only that, but I received a ticket; a ticket for speeding.

I really don’t know how it happened (I assume velocity and uncanny proximity to various signage that would, at certain times, allow for such speed played a part), but before I knew it I was on the side of the road with my window rolled down searching for paper in my glove compartment. And this time I wasn’t trying to pay for “companionship.” That, of course, is a joke; I pay most hookers with checks.

It all started as I was going to work, as most people do. Because of various road “improvements” that are being made to some uppity golf course on 63rd street (they’re laying some pipe, HAYOO!), my normal route has been change from a four lane to a two, ostensibly causing a clusterfudge at 8am and at 5pm. With this grand information in mind, my route changed from 63rd street to 36th street as I made my way to work via May Avenue and all its cracked glory.

So it was. Driving down 36th street, passing from some commercial buildings into residential ones (Sim City taught me the difference), I came upon a school. Not just any school, but a school with a School Zone protecting it like a magic barrier against wayward souls with led feet. Well, protecting it for about an hour a day when some lights around it are flashing (they ward off the evil speeders).

I was following a somewhat decrepit, brown, pick-up truck, with paint chipping that showed a previous white exterior. We both drove into the Zone with no way else to go but further in. Other than that being something that she would say, it’s also what happened.

As we began to slow down to the requested 25 miles per hour, the school in question came into view. Behind an overhanging tree the red brick schoolhouse peeked. A white sign in front of the building said nothing; there was no news to report on this fateful day. Brown Bess and I passed the school building without a hitch. That is, until the truck turned.

I watched my companion in the Zone turn, and at that point I saw the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. A daring adventurer from years passed had put up a sign denoting the end of the Zone. I don’t know what ancient technology this brave man used to figure out where the boundaries of the invisible zone lied, but he did. As I approached, my natural instinct was to leave the dreaded Zone behind as soon as possible, placing it in only a memory. So I accelerated. I was also going down hill, so that probably helped with some forward motion.

And then I was pulled over.

According to the officer, I was going a certain amount above the speed limit within the Zone. I have some reservations regarding the number that was quoted, as the sign that denoted the end of the Zone was not only right after the intersection where Ol’ Brown turned, but it was also up hill at that point. I’m not entirely sure if the speed I was traveling within the Zone had increased to the digits that the officer said or if it was just a clever optical illusion from his vantage point, but I don’t feel like I was genuinely going that speed at that time.

Such a statement is probably par for the course regarding any and all speeding tickets. “I wasn’t going that fast, I swear!” At this moment I’m skeptical of the speed (I didn’t see the radar gun) but I am not going to wholly deny the possibility. In the end the ticket won’t go on my insurance so I will probably just pay it, but it’s not without frustration.

Frustration not in receiving the ticket, but frustration in knowing that I am a pretty damned good driver and this one lapse in judgement will cost me quite a penny. The frustration that I know there is a crazy old lady in my condo complex that drives 55+ in a 40 every morning to work, zig-zagging and cutting people off as she goes, who for all intents and purposes needs to be pulled over at least four times a week. That’s where the frustration lies. But that’s just me trying to divert some sort of blame, which is ultimately useless, so I’m over it.

On the bright side, I did go ten full years without having any vehicular altercations with the police. Full disclosure: I was in a car accident my senior year of high school, but no tickets were issued in that instance. So in my eyes, I’ve had nearly 3,650 days of ticket freedom that was shattered today. I am curious in regards to the statistics behind that. At this point I feel like there was probably about a 99% chance that every time I went for a drive I should have been pulled over. On a long enough scale, all probabilities become 100%.

So that is my story. I am now but one of the humans.